• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Is cleared land or wooded better to start forest gardening

 
Leela Robinson
Posts: 6
Location: Middle TN, relocating to N Central FL near High Springs
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Dave and all ~
We are looking for about 10ac in north central FL: southern Columbia County, near High Springs.
Want to create a permaculture yoga retreat using forest garden principles.
We were thinking part cleared/part forested is ideal.
Cleared land is not as readily available as wooded land. Many sites are planted in pines.
We'd like to get the land livable and productive as quickly and affordably as possible, of course.
What more do we need to consider? Hold out for the cleared land which costs more and could take awhile? or go with wooded (planted pines or second growth) which costs less and more available?

Thank you for your input.

 
Dave Jacke
Author
Posts: 26
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leela, the standard ecologist's and designer's answer applies: it depends. I suggest you make a list of all the factors you can think of that it might depend on, and then assess yourselves for each of those factors. Money and time are ones you have mentioned already . . . both biggies. What is the additional cost of cleared land compared to wooded? What is the cost of clearing? How do those two strategies compare in total cost? Are the wood yields valuable in some way in building your home or gardens? Probably. That has a value too. Would you clear yourselves or have to hire people to do it for you?

If I had my druthers in your situation, I'd probably try for some of each and split the difference, get the advantages and disadvantages of both. More habitat diversity at the outset is probably a good thing.

Keep design for catastrophe in mind down there. Fire is probably going to become more and more of a design issue in that region, among others. Read Holmgren's The Flywire House for good design ideas. Read Mollison's autobiography for the tale of the Hobart fire in 1967--a harrowing account worth reading so you know what it takes to deal with such events. Make sure you assess any property you look at with that and other kinds of catastrophe in mind so you don't buy into a hard-to-amend situation. Pine forests are probably not great as far as fire safety goes, and can also be pretty bad in hurricanes depending on the species and health of the trees!

For forest gardening, pine forest are also hard to deal with. Not many species do well with pine overstory. But, as I said, if the stand is in good shape, you can get some decent building material out of the trees. Mixed woods are better, but still can be difficult to do much with--still a lot of shade that will limit what you can grow under it. But they are fun to play with and experiment with. You'll be able to make the kind of forest garden you want with cleared land; but cleared land is often poor in soil quality, especially in warmer climates. I am not a fan of clearing forest to start a forest garden--we've done so much damage to existing forests already! So those are some of my considerations. Again, I'd say amix of open and wooded land is probably the best option.

Good luck and keep on truckin.

d
d
 
Leela Robinson
Posts: 6
Location: Middle TN, relocating to N Central FL near High Springs
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Dave for the thoughtful reply. and I'll follow up on the references.
I appreciate the support for being patient for the more ideal half/half property to open up.
Resonate with the conviction about not wanting to clear forest to start a forest garden.
It might happen that we find half/half land that has a house trailer on it...
We can beautify the world twice, one by recycling the trailer into beer cans (a la Jimmy Buffet) and two by creating a regenerative homestead retreat for y'all to visit.

 
William Trachte
Posts: 37
Location: Deerbrook, Wi
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Time is the great equalizer: completed work is either time or money. If you are jumping in with both feet, as my wife and I did May 2011, it will take nearly all of your effort to make the so-called "zone one and two" around the house livable and functioning (admittedly our northern climate is less forgiving), so I wouldn't count on expanding your footprint for a while if money is an issue. If this acre or so are cleared already, make sure it's really where you want to "be" on the property before you buy. Trees are nice, but they can fall on your house, and in the woods, sunshine is what everything is searching for. If you have a spot cleared, which was our preference, don't make our mistake and have them "stump" it: you lose most of your best soil. Rather leave them in and cover them over somehow: join the Hugelculture movement and make mounds of the debris over the stumps to begin your forest garden near the house. You can then care for it properly. If you keep the trees, too, there are no ends to the uses for something that no one will pay much for
In sum: You're looking more for 20%-80% than half and half ;>
Good Luck!




We cleared only one acre, and had more to do than we could handle, living in our "shed" for a 6 months while our "custom job" proceeded. When you intrude on a stable environment as we did, you are initially horrified at your deed. Two years on, you end up wishing you had cut down the trees you insisted on saving that are shading the garden and fruit trees. Hard to be right.
IMG_1333.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1333.JPG]
Our DYI 10x12 lost it's luxury in about 6 months
IMG_1334_2.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1334_2.JPG]
Raised beds from the timber eliminates any soil deficiencies.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1321
Location: northern California
42
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One trait of pine, which can be good or bad depending, is that it won't coppice or sprout back from the stump when cut. This means that any stand you clear stays cleared, and is basically ready to start gardening, replanting with other trees, etc. Just let the stumps rot where they are. The disadvantage is that if you want a sustained yield of wood, such as for firewood, leafy trees are usually better.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic