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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.