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Permaculture master plan for novice  RSS feed

 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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Really getting into Permaculture, I see how it works and have watched countless videos. It's a big jump from me, coming from my previous field, but I see how it's better than conventional agriculture by a long shot, and I want to make my place work in a sustainable way. I'm in Southern Oregon zone 7 and as I look at the land, the limited topography map available, and try to understand where ponds would go, how they'd overflow, trenching/swales and all the subject etc I don't know where to start. Information overload! LOL. I understand the concept of Zone 0 (home/internals), Zone 1 (backyard/intensive growing) etc but within this, where to start?
I am considering to find someone who could provide a master plan, so that instead of doing whatever I see on Youtube and hoping it's correct, I am doing projects and planting around a structured plan and thereby have peace of mind that I'm doing it holistically in away that works together. Don't get me wrong. In time I want to learn, grow, get into holistic landscaping and do all of this on my own, however for the time being I want to move fast and know that I'm going in the right direction. My goal is to feed a family of 8 on my own land, make our own compost and minimize the need for relying on outside sources to accomplish this once the system is established. Oh and do this on with a full time job work load Donate to those in need and maybe sell excess. I want to do as Lawton has done in the recent 5 acre abundance PDC video where endangered species came back to the land, but on a smaller scale as I realize funds may not be as abundant as my desires

I'm sure there are permaculture learning centers around somewhere, as well as OSU who offers courses. Would I gain a good overview of -what- to do in good order if I pay someone to construct an in depth master plan?
Master plans appear to be very involved and articulate. How can I be sure of qualifications to provide a well put together plan? Are there Lawton or Mollison types in my neck of the woods? What should one expect to pay for a master plan?

 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
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Where to start? Right outside the back door.

Outside my back door is a 12'x16' deck that is about 3' above grade. When I moved in, it had various straggly blackberries and other stuff growing under it. I clipped the other stuff and mulched the blackberries. I put some trellis type material to block the crawl space under the deck and now the blackberries call the trellis home. On either side of the steps from the deck down to the yard, there were 4'x4' planter boxes; they got oregano and parsley the first spring, and have been going strong ever since.

It's the same story walking out the front door; look at what is existing and decide what type of plant would be useful/beneficial/tasty there. I've come to the realization that permaculture enthusiasts are really incredibly lazy hunter gatherers -- they love to gather, but they better not have to walk very far to do it. So you put your herb garden right outside your kitchen window, for those times when you need to step out and get a snip or basil or tarragon for what you are cooking. I have my fig trees right below the front deck. To get figs to put on my morning breakfast, all I need to do is walk down the front steps. In a couple more years, the trees may be tall enough that I can reach them just standing on the deck.

If you start on a small scale, with areas that are right under your nose, you will be reminded and rewarded each time you pass by your new plantings. You don't even have to plan it out to the square foot all in advance. Try something, if it works, keep it, and if it doesn't, maybe that spot is better for something else.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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Thank you John, these are really good ideas.
In what order do you decide what to put where? I find myself trying to find everything that will grow in hardiness zone 7 and below, and then trying to narrow it down from there.
Is there a better method, for example a database of edibles that lists what is safe to plant in my area?
Fig sounds like a great idea, and it appears I'm in the right place to try growing them. Do you know where I might find varieties like Black Mission, King and Calimyrna? These sound like great varieties.

Also, what are your thoughts/experiences in completing or having someone assess property and provide a permaculture master plan? Is there an average cost? A standard? What can be expected?
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 938
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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While all this planning which permaculture suggest makes a lot of sense, because it gives you a feeling on what you can do and what you don't want and what you don't know, I found that the best teacher is experience. What works on one land does not work on the other. You gain this experience working outside a lot.
That means I would try to make a plan, just a scribbley sketch and as John said start right on your backdoor, start something. The important thing at this stage is that you don't put anything in what is difficult to change later like fences, buildings maybe even fruit trees. You can plant some "permaculture" trees in other areas meanwhile which help to restore the land if this is necessary. When you have planted right on your backdoor your vegetable garden, and you are successful in growing what you need go a step further. All the time revise your plan and let it grow like your garden. I myself was too fast putting rigid stuff in like fences and I would have done a lot of things different now.
The same holds true when you are trialling a new gardening method say square foot or huegelculture, always try a little bit especially when it's high work input, I tell this from experience too. It is always easy making a little annual bed, if it works OK, if it doesn't make something else your soil gets better meanwhile.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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Start saving seeds from your fruit (stone fruits, apples, etc) and toss them in pots or a mature compost pile. By the time you figure out where you want them, they'll be ready to plant out and graft.

Figs, mulberries, grapes and pomegranates are propagated easily by cuttings. Grapes are probably the easiest cuttings to come by, because they are usually pruned back aggressively creating hundreds of viable cuttings.

Buy chestnut seeds, they will take 3+ years to start producing.

Trees take a while to grow, so start now, even you don't have the full picture yet.

Same goes for soil. Get all the wood chips, leaves, straw, coffee grounds, manure and food waste you can get your hands on and start composting more than you think you'd ever be able to use.

Sure, hire a designer. There is no substitute for experience, especially if you are going to be doing earthworks.

Connect with local permies. In Southern Oregon, you might be somewhat close to Lost Valley ecovillage and permaculture training center. http://lostvalley.org

I think toby hemenway is based in Portland? http://www.patternliteracy.com

Larry Korn, who is in the Fukuoka lineage is in Ashland. http://www.onestrawrevolution.net/One_Straw_Revolution/Larry_Korn.html

 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Build a fish pond or 4 at the wettest spot in the "valley". That way you take care of some of that water and you also get a source of meat.
During the rainy season, most of your plant will be fine as long as the water doesn't sit for weeks at a time.
And being that it will be in the winter, you will not be doing much harvesting. You might have to clear some of the hilly portion for a winter pasture if you plan on keeping animals.

Aim for a more savanna look than a close canopy food forest.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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Angelika Maier wrote:While all this planning which permaculture suggest makes a lot of sense, because it gives you a feeling on what you can do and what you don't want and what you don't know, I found that the best teacher is experience. What works on one land does not work on the other. You gain this experience working outside a lot.
That means I would try to make a plan, just a scribbley sketch and as John said start right on your backdoor, start something. The important thing at this stage is that you don't put anything in what is difficult to change later like fences, buildings maybe even fruit trees. You can plant some "permaculture" trees in other areas meanwhile which help to restore the land if this is necessary. When you have planted right on your backdoor your vegetable garden, and you are successful in growing what you need go a step further. All the time revise your plan and let it grow like your garden. I myself was too fast putting rigid stuff in like fences and I would have done a lot of things different now.
The same holds true when you are trialling a new gardening method say square foot or huegelculture, always try a little bit especially when it's high work input, I tell this from experience too. It is always easy making a little annual bed, if it works OK, if it doesn't make something else your soil gets better meanwhile.


Great points, thanks. One question, what are permaculture trees that can restore land? What qualities to look for in these trees? Thank you!!
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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S Bengi wrote:
Build a fish pond or 4 at the wettest spot in the "valley". That way you take care of some of that water and you also get a source of meat.
During the rainy season, most of your plant will be fine as long as the water doesn't sit for weeks at a time.
And being that it will be in the winter, you will not be doing much harvesting. You might have to clear some of the hilly portion for a winter pasture if you plan on keeping animals.

Aim for a more savanna look than a close canopy food forest.


Ponds definitely a must. I have some spots in mind, just trying to find someone with a tractor to do the digging lol. Water like everywhere else, is always a worthy challenge. Too much or none at all, depending on the season. I think this will be one of the biggest challenges, harvesting in tanks, retaining in landscape, finding ways to route etc.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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yukkuri kame wrote:Start saving seeds from your fruit (stone fruits, apples, etc) and toss them in pots or a mature compost pile. By the time you figure out where you want them, they'll be ready to plant out and graft.

Figs, mulberries, grapes and pomegranates are propagated easily by cuttings. Grapes are probably the easiest cuttings to come by, because they are usually pruned back aggressively creating hundreds of viable cuttings.

Buy chestnut seeds, they will take 3+ years to start producing.

Trees take a while to grow, so start now, even you don't have the full picture yet.

Same goes for soil. Get all the wood chips, leaves, straw, coffee grounds, manure and food waste you can get your hands on and start composting more than you think you'd ever be able to use.

Sure, hire a designer. There is no substitute for experience, especially if you are going to be doing earthworks.

Connect with local permies. In Southern Oregon, you might be somewhat close to Lost Valley ecovillage and permaculture training center. http://lostvalley.org

I think Toby Hemenway is based in Portland? http://www.patternliteracy.com

Larry Korn, who is in the Fukuoka lineage is in Ashland. http://www.onestrawrevolution.net/One_Straw_Revolution/Larry_Korn.html



Thanks a lot, I'm not too far from Dexter, maybe 50 miles, so will check out Lost Valley first, Larry Korn is in Ashland it appears which is about 2hrs. I'll try all of them, these would be great resources for a Plan.
Time to get plugged in with all these great resources!
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 938
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Acacias are permacutlure trees for example, but I think any tree is good for the land.
I am a big fan of working by hand. It is so slow and hard that you can design as you go, but I really can understand the use of machines.
There are quite small machines a meter wide or so which do not compact the soil as much.
The idea of tree seedlings is great, even if you don't need the trees you could plant them outside your garden or give them away.
Even if you rip those seedling trees out later you still produced organic matter. Artichokes are great produces of organic matter too.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I know there are lots of folks with fresh new PDCs out there who could use the design experience. I had hoped to get someone to come here and do a design for me much like you, to no avail. I decided to educate myself and do the design myself.

What I've learned feels like a lot, and what I don't know yet feels vast! I felt like I wanted to do so much at first, get things moving, get trees in the ground, get pond dug, etc. Now I realize that the "observe" principle is first for a reason. I'm starting small and manageable, and observing.

Observing how people interact with the land (ours is a family of seven) where the paths are, where the sun shines where the wind blows, where the deer sleep, where the ants thrive, where the invasive plants grow and how, where the property is visible from the road, where the poison ivy is, where I want fences where I want water systems.... you get the idea. I'm slowly amending, mulching, experimenting, planting and planning.

I expect in twelve years, when my twin boys are 15 and the new baby is 12 I will have more fruit and nuts on more trees. We already have chickens for eggs and meat and I'm hoping to bed then here instead of buying chicks. I'm experimenting with growing insects and snails to feed the chickens. I have rabbits for meat and may need them too but am starting small.

I also have been asking around and making friends with all the experts I can find. Just asking folks to come walk around the farm and tell me about their view of it has taught me a lot. Wildlife experts, herbalists, grass scientists, mycologists, old Yankee farmers... I want to hear everything they all have to say.

Best of luck, and keep us posted on what you do.
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