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How to convert monculture lawn to polyculture grazing and food forest?  RSS feed

 
Nicholas Heindl
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I am closing on an 8 acre piece of land in central Pennsylvania. The land is currently a mono-crop grass lawn with rolling hills and a pond at the low spot on the property fed by a creek-fed spring. I do NOT want to mow 8 acres every week. My plan is to eventually fence most of the property and have grazing animals, though that is at least a year or two away.

I'm currently reading Ben Faulk's Whole Systems Design book and he recommends not allowing any field to go fallow and to mow at least one to two times per year to prevent this. I would like to start seeding for grazing plants like vetch, diachon radish, clover, etc.

What is the best way to get rid of the mono-culture grass and start the new poly-culture seeds. Would it be better to sheet mulch and seed a few sections at a time or is there another way? I'm relatively new to permaculture in that I've been reading about it for about two years and last year, at my last property, I started working with some raised beds that I actually dug down and buried a bunch of older rotting wood I found in the hedge row. (the results were great the first year!)

I also want to start a food forest on about an acre of this land with apple trees, pear, raspberry, strawberry, comfrey, spices, etc. I'm currently trying to grow my apple trees from seeds. I have them in the refridgerator right now and plant on starting them for the first year in pots. Any thoughts on how to get this started as well.

We are closing on the property on June 30 so It may be better just to observe the land the first summer and winter as well and start the major work in the spring. I'm just anxious to get started!!!


Thanks,

Nick
 
B Dinney
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I can't wait to see the responses to this.

I am in central Ohio and am closing on 10 acres at the end of this month. Mine is about 3 acres of "yard" with various mature trees (sycamore, maple, oak, walnut, spruce, pine, dogwood, etc...), 2 acres of woods and 5 acres of grass/dirt/future pasture that I would like to fencing in. Mine is also hilly/rolling. I also have a spot at the lowest point of the property where I *could* put a pond that would be fed by an occasional stream after it rains. The rest of the time it is just a damp spot with a trickle of water through it.

The properties sound remarkably similar. Good luck with yours. I look forward to seeing the advice here and also how it ultimately turns out.
 
Creighton Samuiels
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I don't have a coherent answer for you, but you should look into those ready mixed pasture seed bags that are sold to hunters, for creating unmanaged food plots for deer and such. There really shouldn't be much you need to do in order to transition to such a balanced pasture other than spread the seed over top of the lawn, some of the seeds will take, and the fesque grasses will yield to some degree.
 
Dave Hunt
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Location: NJ
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I have a similar situation on about 7 acres where the land was old pasture that hadn't been cut in several years. Unlike your property the old pasture was never real good and was filled with many weeds. Well now it's overgrown with pricker bushes and other weeds. My expierement last fall was to cut it down then run an aerator on the back of my tractor. Your next is to spread whatever seed mixture you want. I tried this on about an acre. I guess time will tell how effective it was or wasn't. My guess is to get good results I might have to do this a few more times in spring and fall. But since you said you have some time it might be worth a shot your really only risking your time and the seed. Good luck.
 
Chris Badgett
pollinator
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Location: Whitefish, Montana
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Michael Pilarski has a video where he talks about how to start with a grassy field like you describe.

Here's a link to the video: http://organiclifeguru.com/lesson/site-preperation/

It's one of the free video lessons in his "How to grow a Food Forest" online video course.

 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Nicholas Heindl wrote: I do NOT want to mow 8 acres every week.
...

What is the best way to get rid of the mono-culture grass and start the new poly-culture seeds.


You could use chickens or pigs to till it up, then replant. Sections at a time.

In the meantime, someone could brush-hog it once or twice a year.
 
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