Hi there! I've done my PDC course recently and my head is filled with all kinds of diverse information, but I haven't the faintest about some really basic things like "where should I position my garden on my property?". I haven't been a garden person, or even much of an outdoors person for a lot of my life, so perhaps I'm missing some really basic knowledge - apologies if this is the case.
I'm wanting to design a basically empty 1.5ac block of land in rural NSW Australia to include a food forest and some large veggie gardens to provide enough food for 3 families. The property is all sloping from East-West, and slightly from North-South, without any real flat area at all. It's not a really steep slope, but it's definitely not flat enough to build any kind of structure on. Sorry I can't be more specific...
So, in this scenario, where would I position things? Would the larger trees go on the northern side, or would it block light being up the hill? Where would garden beds best be positioned? If I was going to put in swales, where would they be best? Is it better to have them closer to the top only and plant the trees along them, leaving space for the garden beds lower down?
I know it might be hard to answer such general questions, but general answers will be way better than nothing.
Welcome to permies Kate! What is your climate, hardiness zone, and location? Do you have a map of your site or an aerial picture? Is a contour map available?
In your pdc, did you do a final project at the end (creating your first design)? The process for designing your property will be similar; you go through the thinking process: element analysis, zone/sector analysis, people analysis, visions/dream, designing, editing, (after pdc, possibly) implementation, and constant reevaluation and integrating feedback from the system and users.
Since I am lazy, I think placing the garden in zone 1 by the house would be useful: all the food regularly eaten could be grown here. A herb spiral could be placed nearby, too. How often does it rain? Too much or too little rain? What would the function of your planned swales and berms be?
Edit: here is a general idea of what i think could be done:
-garden close to house
-rainwater catchment system placed on your roof with barrels around the spouts to store the water: household, gardening, etc, many uses
-I think placing swales and berms (north facing) near the lower elevations would be useful because it can catch and store water as it is about to leave the site
-I am worried about placing swales close to the home because too much water might hurt the foundations
-the shade from the trees on the berms will moderate the temperatures and cool off what is behind it which may be helpful since some vegetables can be needy
*another reason to have the garden in zone 1 where it is easy to get to and tend, always in view of the gardener's caring shadow
-it really just depends on what you want to grow and eat to determine what does where: sorry, I couldn't explain give a more specific idea.....
EDIT: here is a diagram by Sepp Holzer that explains swales and berms better than I could:
Kate Vereshaka wrote:
I'm wanting to design a basically empty 1.5ac block of land in rural NSW Australia to include a food forest and some large veggie gardens to provide enough food for 3 families.
If you're not confident to design it after taking your PDC you might want to talk to your teacher. I'm also wondering about your design for certificate. Maybe you could have someone design it for yo? Or use your property as an example for someone else's final design for a PDC? Lots of designers down under.
If you want to design it yourself, focus on zones & sectors.
Normally I'd take a stab at something like this but I admit that as a northern hemisphere person the change in North/South would throw me off too much without a map to look at.
My project thread Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
I've not taken a PDC but am slowly working through designing my property. There are a lot of things to consider, as I'm sure you know! First, you need to gather information -- soil tests, sun/shade studies, slopes, sectors, etc. Then, you need to map it all. That will make it much easier to begin plugging in elements.
Garden -- to my way of thinking, there are at least two types -- your 'kitchen garden' that you want right outside your kitchen door for quick gathering for meal prep, and the production garden that is out in zone 2 --the bulk of your food production is here for things intended for, say, "putting-up" (food preservation). This second type can --I think-- also be mixed into food forests rather than getting stuck in row-planting-mode.
You also need to consider what you want to grow -- what foods do you like to eat? doesn't do any good to grow peppers if no one in your family eats peppers...
As a newbie to gardening and permaculture designing, I know how easy it is for me to get overwhelmed with all the ideas and options. I also know that gardening is a skill that requires practice. So, even if you don't have a plan, yet, put seeds in the ground somewhere and start practicing this crazy, bewildering skill called gardening. Then, sit down and ask yourself what you want out of your 1.5 acres. Do you want it to look a certain way? or is food production all that matters? Are you looking to provide the total calories for 3 families or just a portion thereof? What are their expectations? and how much are they willing to help?
http://notquitethereyethomestead.blogspot.com/ --On the highway going from here to there the question is oft asked "are we there yet". The oft given answer is "not quite yet". So it goes with life and with my little piece of it. This is my story. I get to tell it my way. I hope you enjoy it.
This advice ought to easily be worth what you're paying for it...... Two books helped us, "The Owner-Built Home," and "The Owner-built Homestead." Helped with considerations we hadn't thought of... Best, TM
They weren't very bright, but they were very, very big. Ad contrast: