A few permaculture observations from the past year, here in zone 8/7 (right on the edge). We experienced a pretty strong drought year, and I lost quite a few 1 yr. old bare root trees that I had transplanted into my food forest. I had a pear under the dripline of a 40' cedar that thrived, unlike it's brother being protected by weeds, sunflowers, and newly transplanted siberian peashrubs. This gave me the idea of using the cedars on my property as pioneers for certain species (acid tolerant). Limbing the cedars as the new trees grow, and finally harvest the trunk as the new trees are established. As an old wildcrafter once told me cedars are only good for establishing the hardwoods.
Lacking the funds for major earth works I am always looking for low input establishment methods. I noticed this past year that as well established trees died from lack of water, seedling pioneers and young oaks were growing fine out of several brush piles that I had neglected. Giving me the idea of brush row hedges (as animal containment and hedge row paddocking is a priority). Further experimentation has developed a game plan of brush row hedges w/ seedballs cast into them (for an eventual living hedge), sunchokes planted to the uphill side of the hedge and blackberry just on the downhill side of hedge (thought is this will help w/ water penetration as sunchokes will be harvested seasonally, eventually making a swell essentially). Thank you for listening and all input is greatly appreciated.