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preparing for a food forest

 
Brendan Biggar
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Is there anything I can do to prepare the area that I am planning on planting a food forest in next spring. I am in Stirling, Alberta and it is zone 3 here. I will post pictures to the area I plan on starting with. 

I would like for the row of aspens I planted to be the edge of the forest 

Any thoughts, ideas, or constructive criticism is muchly appreciated and encouraged. Just a 19 year old with a passion for permaculture! I also posted this in the gardening for beginners category for a variety of replies.
 
Brendan Biggar
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Field
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[Thumbnail for 1377698375159.jpg]
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
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Brendan,

geoff lawton uses chickens to disturb the area where he wants to plant a food forest. You could also disturb the area yourself by hand. Either ways, the key is that you don't want to leave the soil bare. So planting a fall seed mix after disturbing is a good idea.

If you haven't seen those videos from Geoff, I recommend you have a look: http://www.permies.com/t/23959/permaculture-design/Geoff-Lawton-Designing-acre-property
 
Alex Brands
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if you're going to get rid of the current ground cover, start killing it now. It would be best if you can, as soon as possible, sheet mulch the area you want to plant in the spring.
 
Josh T-Hansen
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Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
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Even though you can sheet mulch at time of planting, Alex is right that getting the grass roots decomposing now will give your plantings a head start. The Aspen should be fine but for most of the food producers keeping all grass out of a 3' or more radius is going to make a significant difference for establishment. They even sell biodegradable mats for this which save time for some people especially if plentiful mulch isn't available.
 
Mike Leo
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@Brendan

It's hard to tell from the photograph, have you put in a swale yet?

If you haven't taken a look at your slope yet or installed a swale I would start there as it will have a major impact on the hydrology of the food forest and the amount you would need to irrigate substantially. The swale itself could also serve as a boundary for the F.F. or additional planting area for species that need dry feet.

I've done some work with microswaling so even if all you have room for is a shovel's width deep/wide it can still have major benefits in spreading and soaking.
 
Brendan Biggar
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No I havent put a swale in. I have not done anything to this part of my land yet beside a compost pile at the far end and the aspens you see in the photograph. I will sheet mulch a large area where I plan on planting trees and some long term perennials. Thats about the only planning I have so far
 
Mike Leo
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I would definitely start with doing some exploratory contour following! It's amazing how much of an impact even a small swale can have.


If you need a bit more info, here's some great free places to start:
-Hydrology of Swales
-Build and Calibrate a level
- Finding and marking contours.


That will let you mark the changes in elevation you do have, to see where the water is moving now and give you some idea of where this best fits within your boundaries and the long term plans for your FF.
 
William James
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You should know your soil type and make sure you're following good practices for planting trees.
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/633.html

Just found that very helpful for me last night.

Also it depends on how much land we're talking about....me needs more details.

Find out which trees grow well for you in your area with little care, as they will be the ones which cause you fewer headaches in a world where headaches abound...

William
 
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