Hello all, It seems that I've finally bought the farm, so to speak. I have just moved to coastal Kent County, Maryland and have about an acre poorly drained clay to work with after subtracting all the impermeable surfaces, and necessary lawn for social activity's. The spot that gets the most sun is a turf on clay puddle when it rains. I'm building up a trenched raised bed to put additional soil filled raised beds on top, eventually putting a hoop house over the whole area. The long term goal being year round veggies, with plastic up in the winter and deer proofing in the temperate seasons.
My big "Permaculture" question right now is what to do with 600 feet of overgrown hedge? It averages 35 ft deep around 2/3 of the property with a variety of vine strangled hardwoods including, Sweet Gum, Black locust, Maple and Oak. There are 4 small struggling cedars, a couple of cherry's, willows, dogwoods peeking out from the vines, along with various historical artifacts like a collapsed shed that I haven't had time to cut my way into to inspect for plunder. There is an established Willow Oak on the South East corner that gets a full sun exposure across a Monsanto special corn field and has a a relatively clear under story. I could recreate the "Oak Guild" just like the picture, except for the puddle..... Thus far I have cut a good portion of the tree climbing grape and rose vines at ground level and hacked a path into the heaviest overgrown corner patch. Pretty soon I'm going to need a plan, so here I am. I hope to find some folks in the area to learn from, as well as take advantage of the broader experience base I've seen on this forum. Thanks, Woody
There is an established Willow Oak on the South East corner that gets a full sun exposure across a Monsanto special corn field and has a a relatively clear under story.
That is one place that you may want to be 'overgrown', as a thick bush level will screen any spraying your unenlightened neighbor may do on his field. Overgrown hedges are actually a nice way to start - better than barren fields. Instant livestock (and predator) fencing, and natural habitat for a multitude of beneficial species (as well as some others - as long as it remains in balance, it's fine).
In the last half of the 20th Century, most hedgerows were destroyed as farmers followed the USDA advice to "Get bigger, or get out!" As the farmers were ripping out the hedgerows, they discovered that the soils under them were the richest, and healthiest soils on the farm. Soils that developed as Mother Nature had intended (and without the destructive chemical inputs).
I envy you having an old shed to plunder. Who knows what treasures may lie in there.
I read of a couple who bought an old farm from heirs who wanted nothing to do with it. A caveat in the sales was "...an old barn full of junk." They paid $40,000 for the farm, and slowly began cleaning out the barn. Their first year there, they had found many items the needed, and sold $20,000 of equipment/items found in there. And, they had only gotten about half way into it...they were just getting to the antique items and bigger stuff.
You can hack away at the hedge to keep it manageable, but most of it will continue growing back - a sure sign of a healthy system.
Ok so you have about 44 thousand sqft to work with aka 1acre.
How much of that is hedge (35ftx600ft)? 21 thousand or half the place?
How much do you want to keep for a greenhouse (20ftx100ft)? 2 thousand sqft.
How much do you want to leave for summer/non-greenhouse veggies another 2thousand sqft.
So that leaves you with another half an acre that you can play with now for about 3 years until they start bearing, need full sun for riping.
So with 15ft centers for each plant you could fit (22,000/177) you can plant 125 trees.
I would get 6-10ft dwarfs unless you like climbing trees.
After 3 years when they really start bearing or you find the funds+time+energy to plant 125 trees.
You can start removing the hedgerow and planting a new shorter hedgerow.
Iterations are fine, we don't have to be perfect
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
I am sort of assuming that if the hedge is 35 feet thick, and at the property lines, then about half that thickness is on your side, and the rest is on the neighbor's side. If so, you could remove about half of your half. Even if the neighbor decides to completely remove the portion on his property, that still leaves you with a +/- 8 foot thick hedge. Still enough for a nice buffer, and habitat area.
There is supposedly a 60' right of way between each property , with a lot of bickering about who owns what. I am going with if its on my side of the dirt "avenue" its mine. So counting my part of the right of way I think I'm up to 1 3/4 acres of dirt total, with 1 1/4 acres uncontested "inside the lines". This is just a doodle with future ideas, In general the trees listed are established and the "coppices" and evergreen hedges are future plans. I want to reduce the deer and small mammal habitat as much as possible, for hopes of growing edibles and to reduce the chance of getting lymes.
PS aparently my picture posting skill are lacking. I will try again tomorrow.
I got a picture back up. The property a is higher on the west side and drains primarily to the south east corner. My well report says I am on a 3 foot clay pan with 2 feet of top soil on the west side. My digging in the east side wet areas show sod on clay. The driveway acts as an impermeable sluice. The most of east side puddles after rain. There is a natural/preexisting swale heading east across the north east corner. The green house will be on a trenched bed in the swale. I plan on slowing The water flow from above along the north side road but general leading to the swale and have a started to a trench sump bellow the raised bed to lead water into the hedge "top" of the east-side hedge. I'm thinking about also channeling the south side water flow into the south hedge. Is using the built up hedge soil as a sump a good idea? I am also wondering what effect my vine cutting will have? I have left all the roots in of the roses and grape vines, so the will "come back " if I let them. I just don't know what I am going to "replace" them with as an under-story. I am going to coppice/bollard many of the smaller hard woods in hope of letting the larger trees spread their canopies out, more so after the vines wither. I'm just thinking out loud here..... Thanks, Woody
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