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growing a garden on a north-facing slope

 
Krystle Evelyn
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I am considering some land that has a north-facing slope which is steeper in some areas and goes to level on others. Would I be able to grow a good variety of edible food by building terrace gardens along the slope? Would the north-facing slope limit me greatly on what I could grow?
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Welcome to permies, Krystle!

Do you mean a north-facing slope? If so, you might be looking at more cool and shade tolerant types of plants, perennials and veggies. Especially in the Cascadia region that already has less solar units than areas more inland or down south. I'm blanking on resources typically recommended for lower light food gardens at the moment. (Was it a perennial veg book?)

As for terracing, I think it makes sense to do that for slowing and sinking water and rainfall, as well as to prevent erosion - regardless of solar orientation. Terracing north slopes to help with solar gain could be tricky. I think a lot would depend on how directly north-facing the slope is or is not. Using heat sinks, such as large boulders and ponds could help.
 
Krystle Evelyn
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Yes, I did mean north-facing. Here is a photo to show the degree of the slope. The slope continues up off the right of the photo.
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Nicole Alderman
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I'm in the same boat with a north-facing slope. The top of our property is very steep, and it's level/slightly sloped near the house. During the winter, the sun barely gets over the top of the trees at the top of our property. And since our property is surrounded by trees, we only get 2-4 hours of direct sun in some parts of our garden during the winter. The majority of the property gets minutes to zero sun for three months of the year. Trees at the top of the property really make a difference as to how much/little sun you will get.

I am also curious as to how productively use our land when it's so shady. Berries (blackberry, huckleberry, salal, Oregon grape, currents, strawberries, thimbleberries, and salmonberries), as well as nettle, dandelion, filberts, pansies/violets, and other edible weeds naturally do well here. This is our second year living here, and I really am struggling with what I can grow in such a shady property. Here's a picture of the top of my property for comparison:
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Looking up the hill
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Looking down the hill
 
leila hamaya
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recently i was talking with someone who was saying it could be good to plant food trees on a north facing slope, which got me confused at first.
but they said that because it didnt get warmer there in early spring, and in general was cooler, the trees grew hardier and most importantly they didnt go into a false spring early budding- which could be killed off quickly by a late frost.
they would be a bit behind the ones on south facing slopes, but that would be a benefit, because too early breaking buds can affect the whole years production.
the tree gets all confused when it starts to grow too quick in spring and then the weather isnt quite done with winter..

sounded pretty smart to me, though i hadnt thought about doing so before.

about the OP, i think you would want lots of terraces and to do a lot of earth moving, which is slow work.
 
Krystle Evelyn
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I just learned the the property I posted about is actually more a northeastern facing slope. Would this change the growing potential and type drastically? Or would it still be better to stick with things like berries and fruit trees?
 
charlotte anthony
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In Cascadia peach and apricot trees often blossum in early spring and then get killed in a frost. the solution for this is to plant the trees on a north (or northeastern) facing slope, and then they do not bud out so early and get frosted. a lot of greens can do with less light and less heat very well.

i was once doing work a budhist hermitage where there were huge redwood trees everywhere. it was in northern california near the coast and so got quite chilly (50's) in the winter. i sited the cabin in such a way that by taking out some branches of a few trees, it would get sun for 2 hour a day. i used my intuition to figure out what branches to remove. it was a tight little cabin (though normal technology -- wood and single pane windows) but it heated up very well and held the heat way into the night from the 2 hours a day of sunlight.
 
Jamie Wallace
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Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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Hi
New to the site...
We grow successfully on a north slope. I have attached a few images to show our slope and sun exposure....
The challenge seems to come in the spring with cold winds coming up off the ocean ( a few miles away). Some hooped poly tunnels would help with that. One winter squash mound yielded us over 1500 lbs...
I'm really excited about this forum and look forward to exploring it in greater depth.
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Miles Flansburg
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Welcome to permies Jamie ! Nice first post.

You should start a thread in the projects forum, also!
 
Willy Walker
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Location: Foot of the Mountain, Front Royal VA
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I currently live on a north facing slope at the bottom of a mountain in northern va area. I had good success with my summer garden. I did experience slight decline in peppers from my last place though it could be other reasons like soil, etc.

I will be purchasing new property soon and was only thinking of considering southern facing slopes, etc but after reading this thread and rethinking my garden i think I will consider any and all slopes as long as they are not at the bottom. That seems to have a direct impact on when the sun shows up. We too have an issue with a few fruit trees budding too early.

I was just about to post this very question....




 
Melody McCutcheon
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Location: Cornelia, GA
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I'm in Northeast Georgia and am on the side of a slope that is, indeed, north-facing. Argh! It gets very hot here so maybe that's a good thing. Yay! I have yet to begin a permaculture. The slope is covered with trees in a messy, awful tangle all the way down to the creek at the back of the property. I have no money for excavation sooooo....... I guess I'm going to do it all by hand. The chicks are growing, though, and I can't wait to start sweating!
 
Jesus Martinez
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Krystle Evelyn wrote:I am considering some land that has a north-facing slope which is steeper in some areas and goes to level on others. Would I be able to grow a good variety of edible food by building terrace gardens along the slope? Would the north-facing slope limit me greatly on what I could grow?


My advice is do not buy the land. I live on a north facing slope and when the valley and south facing slopes are in full sun in late winter/early spring and late fall/early winter, I am in complete shade. The impact is that your greenhouse doesn't get the sun it needs to warm up. I do have the previously mentioned benefit that everything blooms later here so is not likely to get frost damage, but it's definitely colder and in the PNW, you don't want colder for growing things.
 
Wynn Ho
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Location: an hour south of Atlanta, Georgia
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I'm clearing a north-facing hill in GA by myself, too, right now. I plan to grow shade-tolerant plants there: fiddle head ferns, gingers and other rhizome-type herbs, some greens...but, mostly perennials since many seeds need heat to germinate and I have flatter land for annual beds. I am thinking that I should alternate down the hill - shrubs-size hugelkulture, then short (under 2'), then shrub-size hugelculture again. Not sure yet. Still clearing it. I will try to keep them all low, though, so sun can reach them as well as possible.

I am worried about ground cover there, though. I don't have the money for bark for the paths and I doubt if clover or grass will be too happy there. An invasive ground cover may've begun to creep it's way there anyway - pennywort, I think.
 
Did you see how Paul cut 87% off of his electric heat bill with 82 watts of micro heaters?
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