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Best way to convert bog to food forest

 
Erin Jones
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I inherited an acre of land. Half of it is bog. I want to use a good chunk of the land for food forest. My families original plan was to simply dig up the bog channel it into a stream (that goes down hill eventually reaching a pond) and fill the land in with gravel fill then they were saying I could ship in top soil if I wanted a garden, and would say have to dig a hole into the gravel and fill it with soil to say plant a tree. I live around boreal forest and the top soil layer is not very deep on it's own. I was just gonna build my soil though. In any case, have you guys got any ideas how I can use to bog to nurture a food forest, or channel a bog into a stream without relying on gravel fill. All advice appreciated, thanks
 
David Livingston
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Where is this land ?
 
S Carreg
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Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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I can't advise but I'll be watching with interest. We also have a large area of bog on our property and I'm considering options for it. it's important to consider the wetland's place in your local ecosystem. In our case we want to leave a good chunk of it to do its wild wetlands thing, but would like to turn some of it into willow and alder managed coppice, and possibly food forest.
 
Emily Brown
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Location: Maine
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If you are in the US you will need to see if the area is protected wetlands before you do anything.

http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Wetlands-Mapper.html
 
Rose Lee
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You should check out what they did on the Bullock Farm in Orcas Island, WA. The edge of the property is a huge swamp that they left mostly wild except for dragging muck from the bottom and using it as enrichment for the soil further up. Apparently pond/bog muck is extremely rich, but most traditional agriculture uses it by draining the pond and ruining the ecosystem. Somehow the bullock brothers avoided that.
 
William Trachte
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Location: Deerbrook, Wi
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If you have any elevated land with south facing contour, big storm blow-downs or trees felled to create or expand the sunny edge could be moved, preferably down-hill, to build out a bed filled with the branches, and whatever else. Soil will be created as the leaves collect at the bottom of the slope.
I'm still thinking about it.
 
Asaf Green
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william: Can you explain how your answer is related to bog land?

Erin:
I'd certainly put mosquito eating fish if puddles or swamp areas exist - where possible.

I don't know about permaculture perspective, but some trees are water drainers, like Eucalyptus. Some Eucalyptus trees can be harvested for nice essential oils, have great shade, lumber, they cast calmness, and host various fauna. But you need to make sure they won't suck up too much water, as it tend to happen in long-dry seasons if you have them.
 
Mike Leo
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@Erin

There is a very cool system used in this kind of situation called a chinampa. (more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinampa )
Such systems were used to great effect in the Americas prior to European conquest.

They operate on the principal that if you have lots of really wet mud/soil you can dig a trench which allows more of the water to drain out of surrounding soils (into the new canal) and pile the soil to create higher points which can be above the water line and dry enough to plant into. geoff lawton refers to this as "intensifying" both the water and the land.

The same idea works with creating a larger pond rather than a channel or canal. By digging down and removing soil you allow the water to collect and in the other hand have more material with which to build up other sections of your design.

Rather than trying to move water off the property with a manufactured stream or drainage system find ways to keep it on the property that let you leverage it better and put more of the land into use. If there is any flow to the water at all there is almost certainly a lot of silt and nutrient coming into the property that way which you can keep and hold, to the benefit of your overall system in the long run.
 
Sean Banks
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If what you have is a true bog you wouldn't be able to grow much in it.............bogs are incredibly acidic and contain very poor amounts of nutrients.... the only edibles that come to mind are cranberry and possibly blueberry around the edge............personally I dont think its even worth draining because then your just going to mess up the hydrology and the water that used to flow in that area will flood onto other parts of your land.....bogs are like big sponges that hold vast amounts of water
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Hugels started as a way to deal with boggy land. They end up working like giant wicking beds in those situations.
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 464
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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I happen to live in boreal forest. The chances are that the bog is muskeg which is acidic. It's also crappy to plant into as it seems to be nutrient deficient (or at least the nutrients are not bio-available), and it also doesn't hold water well so it tends to dry up and form something similar to a dried cow pat.

The good news is that you probably have loads of windfall trees because the topsoil is thin and the roots can't get a good hold. I would go for some big hugel mounds (like 6 ft high), and plant the trees into this. Over time, the muskeg you use to cover the wood in the mound will neutralise and provide a deep, rich soil for the fruit / nut trees to grow in.

The bog part may be a challenge. It's most likely a bog because there is granite bedrock just below the surface so digging a pond may result in an undesirable result. There is also a lack of clay in this type of geography so sealing a pond is going to be a challenge.

A Chinampa type setup is probably your best option as mentioned. Dig some trenches and pile the muskeg on top of the undug areas to raise the ground level. You'll probably only be able to dig down a few feet but that's OK. The water level is unlikely to drop because it's actually percolating through the landscape over this impervious bedrock rather than flowing in streams. You can then stock it with fish. I've looked at this type of setup very closely in the past and realised the biggest challenge here is dealing with soil acidity. Blueberries will boom. Hops will grow well and you can train them on frames above the canals so that they provide summer shade for the aquatic life.

Other climbing plants like cucumbers, melons etc should also do well.

Apple trees will grow nicely along the banks and you can train them to eventually become the climbing frame for the other plants, with the added benefit of harvesting from a boat (and apples float so no bruising).

One tree I am especially excited about when it comes to boreal forest is the Korean pine. They like acidic soil, their needle mulch is great for blueberries, serviceberries etc, and their pine nuts are awesome. They get big so I'd plant them around the boundary as a wind break.

Oh and I forgot... Sea-buckthorn. It will grow in muskeg, it fixes nitrogen, it coppices, it produces incredible fruit, it provides a thorny barrier to deer, it provides a habitat for birds, and it grows fast.
Honey locust too. Nitrogen fixer, fast grower, deer barrier, and is a pollinator magnet.

 
William Trachte
Posts: 38
Location: Deerbrook, Wi
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Asaf Green wrote:william: Can you explain how your answer is related to bog land?

I should have made clear that I was referring to the elevated land contours at bog's edge, assuming you have any, and that it's easier to pull things downhill.
As Nick relates, you can make your own hills out in the middle somewhere, too, but just getting there with equipment would be problematic.

http://twodogsgonewild.blogspot.com/2013/08/sanity.html

IMG_3832.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_3832.JPG]
old (15yrs) logging loader track on contour above bog edge
 
stephen sinnott
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definately chinampas are the way to go, and just because your in a bog it does not mean you are on granite, you might have a few springs keeping the ground wet, if you have acid soil grow acid loving crops like blueberries, cranberries and sea buckthorn, dont try to make the land neutral at huge cost in time , effort and money, work with what you have.

on the other hand you could clear the bog and plant an acre of wild rice and stock it with ducks, wild rice is a big money crop and is best grown on a small scale as it ripens over 3 weeks, taro might be worth looking into as well.
 
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