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Where to start, what to do?  RSS feed

 
Bryan John
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Hi All,

I had placed this post in another section as well, but I am just looking for as much help as I can get.

I was hoping I could receive some suggestions for my back yard. I'm not yet ready for full blown permaculture, but I'd like to start. I would like to know what I can do now to prepare or set up my yard this fall for permaculture design. A little about the land and my goals; I live in Rhode Island. My yard is about 2/3 of an acre. I'm not sure if I sit well on a water table or something, but my yard is fairly moist (it won't rain for weeks, yet my grass will be wet frequently and can be soggy, even after minimal rain). The back right of my yard, in the forest part, gets real swampy during periods of rains. After a large snow storm and subsequent melt last winter, the water was a couple of inches high for a while. The yard gets good sun and is edged in the back by large Norwegian Maple trees.

Ideally, I liked to plant some fruit trees (peach, pear, apple), nut trees if possible, blueberry and strawberry bushes, and create 2-3 raised garden beds with the usual garden variety. I feel like this is a good start for me, but am open to all suggestions and advice.

What is a good way to start? I want to get started but sort of overwhelmed with all the things I want to do.

I'm glad I found this forum, as it seems extremely helpful.

Thanks in advance for any help/advice/suggestions/design etc provided.

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John Elliott
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Going into the fall, one of the things you could do would be to plant some hardwood cuttings of fruit trees that you like. There is a plum tree that I pass by on my way into town, and when it drops its leaves this fall, I intend to snip a couple branches and stick them in the ground, anticipating them to root over the winter. Make sure to mark and protect them, lest the dog think that it is just some upright stick to fetch or you run over it with the lawn mower.

As for your swampy area, there are a couple of varieties that you could plant, willow or bald cypress. Willow is easy to start with a hardwood cutting, almost too easy as people who have thrown them into the compost pile and discovered a bush a few weeks later will tell you. You are a bit north of the native range of bald cypress, but with a little care, they could also do well for you. Given the predictions of climate change, it could be an excellent choice, especially if your maple trees are having increasing difficulty. Bald cypress is much slower growing than willow; a three year old bald cypress might only be 5' tall, while a three year old willow can be towering overhead.
 
Cj Sloane
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Consider getting advice from someone who's taken a PDC. Try locating someone here.
 
Kim Hill
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Cj Verde wrote:Consider getting advice from someone who's taken a PDC. Try locating someone here.


I agree. That is a nice size chunk of land that could work out as a wonderful permaculture site. In the short term though, I would start with some raised beds for small fruits and vegetables. It would be a bit of work but if you did not like the location, you could always move them later. If you start plant trees, it gets to the point where you either cannot move them or would have to cut them down and lose years of production time if they are in the wrong location.

Myself, I have a very small suburban lot and planted around the edges with my bush type food plants and did a lot of raised beds over the too wet areas. I did plant some fruit trees in the front yard because I don't mind the shade in that area. I still have quite a bit of open space in the center of the yard (if you call 30'x40' quite a bit) which I have not decided yet on what to do with other than let the dogs run. Oh I also move the chicken tractor around to keep the grass "cut".
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Imagine the ideal final result you would like to see in front of your eyes.
Then design the way you are going to walk in there.
Place all that you want like puzzle pieces so that you walk as little as possible to do as much as possible.
Start when you are sure not to plant anything in a future path!

The word "start" comes back often when talking about designing...
OK, each place is different, but a pdc is general,
so this means that some points are common to all starts...

Would not it be great to have a sticky post about "how to start a design?"

That would be about the way to do something, what is useful to do with little risk to undo it etc.
Main word, observe...
Look at what?
Then... How to analyze it?
That could be about sharing real personal experiences...
 
Xisca Nicolas
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You have started well with analyzing...
I would check out if the chosen trees can stand water-logging.
Write the exact places, as you will not remember precisely when you might be planting...

You have tall trees, so I would note (or/and take pics) where he shade comes
1) when sun starts in the morning 2) the sun noon 3) the latest in the evening.

This is great because autumn equinox is there...
Then do the same for Christmas and St John's day, and any other time of the year you want/need.
So you will know where the sun reaches the different places at different seasons.
It can vary a lot.
 
Cj Sloane
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How to start a design:


Bill's stories are great but there's a little gem @ 12:50 which is permaculture deisgn is all about!
http://youtu.be/18jQCr_LLHk?t=12m50s
 
Stacey Khosravi
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I too, am new to permaculture and new here at permies. I love all of the experience and advice from those of you who have been around a little( or lot) longer! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
 
Xisca Nicolas
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cj, thanks. I Heard the beginning so that I could get used to his accent, and I could not even laugh when all were laughing...
I`m so bad at listening....
Hope I have understood the part you mention:

- At the beginning, he drew circles representing the 5 zones.
They are concentric and go out from the home.
- At 12.50 he drew a sun and a cloud, with some rays representing their energy going out.
So this goes into the design.
He advises to check out these forces at work, and divide the area in sectors were these forces are more present.
= where the sun strikes more ; where the wind blows more...
(and he parted the 5 zones design like a pizza)

The 1 sentence I think I got well was that those rays in the design govern exterior energy,
while the circles drive the domestic energy.

Then 2 plants examples:
The walnut goes into the more sensitive to fire sector, because it can resist and slow a fire.
And it will be located far from the house.
Parsley will be located near the house because you need it often, and in a shaded place, so away from too much sun energy.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3729
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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It can be hard to understand him, he slurs a bit at times.

The circles are zones in permaculture speak & the rays are sectors.

I love when he places the walnut in the right spot and says "well done Bill, nicely placed."

Here's an example for the design exercise from Geoff's PDC that I just finished:


I actually didn't put the sectors in till after I turned in my design but after watching that video I felt I had to!
 
Bryan John
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Great advice everyone thanks for helping. So, I started digging up a little on the right side of the yard and i've found a lot of trash. My house was built in the 1700's. Not that the trash would be from then, but I've found glass, rusted metal, etc. On top of that I think the previous owner may have buried his wood stove leftovers, horse hair plaster and construction debris in that area. That is where I wanted to build the garden beds, but I am not sure what to do now aside from bringing in a bobcat clearing it and adding new soil.

Good call on the walking path. What perennial flowers would work best near garden beds to kind of hedge the path?

I've also come across an abundance of decent size rocks. Aside from using them to make garden beds, what else permaculture wise would make sense?

Lastly, I, in rebuilding my house, have a huge amount of debris left. Discounting all my lead paint filled debris and the such, I have a ton of 1 X 8 planks (the house was framed sort of like a barn and I knocked out about 8 walls in the house). Could I use these planks as the walls of my garden beds? What do you guys think?

Thanks for all the ideas.
 
minyamoo metzger
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Your place would be perfect for terracing.
You could make a pond on one of your terraces like Sepp.
If you put a pond on the south side and make the wall high, stack rock on it.
You might be able to grow a few hardiness zones better above the pond. (Sun bounces on the wall and on off the pond onto the wall)
This might help you control the water too, plant tons of biomass on the lip of the swale/pond to absorb some of the water.

 
Bryan John
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A pond? I never thought of that. That may be too difficult and time consuming for me, but I'll keep it in mind. I do think we are going to do some terracing, particularly for a small herb garden that we are thinking about.
 
Bryan John
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Hey all.

Doing a lot of work this weekend, but still looking for some advice on what to do about the trash that was buried and left behind. I'm nervous to prepare beds for vegetables there because i'm sure things like lead paint was buried there, metal stuff, etc. I am thinking simply to ignore that section, cover it up and simply plant flowers and bushes. Suggestions? Thanks
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Plant trees/shrubs that can be cut down for mulch. N-fixing ones are extra good like black locust, or Siberian pea shrub.

Plant trees that can be coppiced for firewood.
 
Bryan John
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Thanks. I was thinking of just trees and bushes there, just not any food producing ones. It's on the edge of my forest-y section of the yard anyhow.
 
Nothing? Or something? Like this tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
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