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Should I clearcut my 5 acres of forest?

 
caleb matheny
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Hey folks, I decided to join the forum because I have a bit of a situation. At the beginning of the year I bought a home stead. 10 Acres in zone 7 in East Tn. It has 6.5 acres of forrest (black walnut, sycamore, oak, etc) on it; however, I am wanting to go the route of a food forrest, so i have 2 choices. I can plant my 3.5 acre pasture with new trees (filbert, apple, and nearly every other tree i can grow that bears fruit) or I can clear cut a portion (3 acres or so) of my woodland and replant it with the food forrest. I have around 90 different trees I am wanting to plant so I may have to clear more than the 3 acres.
Problem is, some of those trees are pretty old and I am a bit hesitant to chop them down. I would have the lumber sawed and purposed for use in a house we will be building, as the little house on the property is what we are living in now, as we plan to build.

I do not want to use my pasture, as I am wanting to have some livestock (dairy cow- though i may have to subsidize with hay, and thats ok) but I just can't see myself having no pasture. All advice is appreciated.
 
Dave Burton
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Welcome to permies Caleb! Maybe it does not have to be an either or situation... would selection cutting or another type be a possible option?

Similar situations to yours have been discussed in these threads here, here, and here, and probably a lot more threads I have not found.
Since the elder trees are already there, they could be used as a protective overstory, and the younger trees could be replaced with what you would like to eat. There are always other options, just having trouble thinking of some more at the moment.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Howdy Caleb, welcome to permies!

Personally I would not clearcut. I think I would cut wandering, wide, "pathways" through the woods. Even better if they are on contour to help with water collection. This would open up the canopy and create lots of "edge". You could then plant your fruit and such in the cleared areas and might even create new "pasture" for livestock.
 
caleb matheny
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i'm trying to understand what your saying, sounds good from what i think i understand.

So cut a series of wide paths (maybe 40 feet wide) and plant fruit and nut trees there?
 
Miles Flansburg
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Yes.

Tell us more about your property. Can you post any pictures?

Is it hilly, flat, south/east/west/north facing, any water etc.

What types of soil, what kinds of plants are growing under the trees? Some trees will put out chemicals to stop other things from growing.

Tell us more about your level of permaculture knowledge.
 
Dan Boone
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My own very limited experience is that established trees in a food forest are worth their weight in gold. I think if you selected the healthiest and best food trees (black walnut for sure, oak if you're interested in oak flour or feeding hogs, sycamore if you want to tap for syrup, any wild plums or persimmons or pawpaws or pecans or hickories you may have, and so forth) for retention, you might find that after clearing away all the other trees you had plenty of space for new plantings. Obviously I don't know a thing about your land but I would think twice (and then wait a year and think again) before cutting a healthy mature food tree on my land.
 
Mike Haych
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I would do no cutting until you have to. If sounds like you have a good natural forest with a lot of diversity including mycorrhizal diversity in the soil. Do an inventory. Look for diseased trees. Look for deadfalls. Maybe they need to be cleaned out; maybe they don't if they are providing habitat. If you haven't done a design, do one. You need a "map" to guide you. You need to get a sense of place before you start doing anything including your final design. Sketching ideas with notes as you develop a feel for what you've got is a good idea. You'll have a progression of ideas as you go along. Start your food forest in the 3.5 clear acres (I think that you'll find that it swallows up a LOT of plants before you come anywhere near to filling it unless you are planning a pick-your-own).

 
caleb matheny
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So here's the deal.

I'm relatively new to permaculture. I bought this farm recently after studying homesteading for a few years. It was the concept of the food forrest that brought me to permaculture, and I have now been studying that for only a few weeks- so I am most considerably a novice.

My pasture is gentle rolling hills, and my woodland is the same.
There are some low lying areas of the woodland that are very wet for extended periods of time.
The soil in my pasture looks to be very much clay, but the grasses do grow very well (we bailed 21 large bails of hay on the nearly 4 acres)

I have included a series of pictures and videos that i made on my iPhone with a short explanation of a few things, just so you could set eyes on the property and better figure it out a bit.

The video isn't ideal, because i'm not there now and didn't make them today, just using what i have on my phone currently.

 
alex Keenan
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"I have around 90 different trees I am wanting to plant."

First you may with to identify the idea growing conditions for each type of tree you want to plant.
Second you may benifit from a contour map of the ten acres. Where does water flow? If you put in swales where would their ideal locations be?
You can likely also get a soils map for you 10 acrers on line.
There are likely to be some trees like the black walnut that you may wish to keep or you may want to save and bank for a rainly day since a good tree is worth money for lumber.
You can identify the trees to save on your maps.
With these you can begin to play what if. It is likely that you have many options so you need to develop some idea of what you want this 10 acres to look like in five, ten, fifteen, and tweenty years.
Now look at your time, money, and required resources, these are all constraints that will limit what you can actually accomplish.
Put together a relalistic plan and be prepared to change it.

One think you may wish to look at is putting in a small nursery. If you are planting acres of trees it will be much cheaper to start your own or to state liners.
If you have time on your side the forest can take shape one step at a time. After all a real forest only does a complete replacement after a major fire or other disaster. Otherwize it replaces a few trees at a time.
 
Cj Sloane
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caleb matheny wrote:
I do not want to use my pasture, as I am wanting to have some livestock (dairy cow- though i may have to subsidize with hay, and thats ok) but I just can't see myself having no pasture. All advice is appreciated.


Silvopasture is pretty popular. You plant trees or thin an existing stand, and you graze between them either in alleys or cells. On rolling land, it would probably be a good idea to plant the trees on swales.

It's a standard concept that you should observe your site for a year before doing anything.

Also, consider taking a PDC. It will save you lots of time and mistakes. I liked Geoff Lawtons online PDC.
 
caleb matheny
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I'm all for taking my time, etc; however, I am one of those that believes we really don't have a whole lot of time before we might need the things we are planning for (10 years or so). I wan't to put 90 trees i have picked out, varying from pecan, apple, plum, cherry, apricot, fig, english walnut, etc) and then they will have 10 years to grow, i'm buying fairly large trees (7 feet or so) and need to get them in the ground this season (this winter or next spring depending).

I am all about swales and hugelkulture, and will explore that for my berry bushes. As far as a regular garden goes, i'm putting in 1000 sqft of hugelkulture raised beds (brick raised beds dug out with 1.5 feet of wood then1.5ft of compost on top of that) I will augment the garden with manure when it starts to settle etc.

My problem as it stands is simply, would I be foolish to cut down a bunch 50+ or so trees in order to do new plantings. For instance, one guy here said I may could make syrup from sycamore trees- but i tried to find info on it, and its not favorable- so would sycamores be a good variety to take down? I'm hesitant to take any nut producing trees down (walnut, oaks, etc) because my future pigs will use this for food.

I appreciate all the info and hope it keeps coming, as this process is a little difficult due to the vast knowledge base required.
 
Cj Sloane
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My land is heavily forested & trees planted in areas not cleared are growing very slowly.

All trees serve some purpose but I would take out non-productive trees to make room for productive ones. You could try making syrup out of the sycamores but I suspect there's a good reason why we don't put sycamore syrup on our pancakes - either taste or too energy intensive to be worth while. I'm chopping and dropping quite a few trees that are theoretically productive, like witch hazel, but I don't use the product and certainly don't need dozens or hundreds.

Don't clear cut and think about uses for the trees you take out. I'm growing mushrooms on some of my thinnings.
 
John Polk
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I pretty much agree with the suggestions given so far.
Clear cutting is one of the reasons that millions of acres of farmland are suffering today.

The best pasture is a savannah, not a plain meadow.
The scattered trees help to diversify the soil biota.
On hot summer days, your dairy cows will most likely be found under the shade of a big oak or hickory tree.
They need shelter from the noon day sun.
(You'll probably appreciate that shade also when you are out in the pasture. Reading a good book under a shade tree is a great way to take a break from the summer heat, and gives you and the herd some 'together time'. Don't laugh, they'll appreciate as much as you do. You're no longer that scary strange animal.)

The thing that you need to worry about in a savannah, is that the trees must be mature enough to withstand the livestock browsing, scratching their rumps, or plain old trampling them.

Try to save some of those deciduous trees for shading the south & west sides of the house.
With the heat/humidity there, you'll need all of the help you can get.

 
Dan Boone
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By all reports, sycamore is more like birch than maple, meaning thinner sap that takes an uneconomical amount of boiling to make syrup, unless you have plenty of time and free firewood. But it's said to be a copious sap producer, and the sap is a safe drinking water source, so some preppers and survivalists value it for that also.
 
Peter Ingot
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agree with a lot of the posters. Work with what you have got, take out diseased trees first, see if that leaves space for new plantings. Then remove some of the least valuable trees. I would say sycamore is probably one of the least valuable. Cutting and uprooting trees causes a lot of disturbance, better selective felling not clearfell. Oaks and walnuts you are lucky to have. Walnuts can be tapped for sap too. but I wouldn't keep them or sycamores purely for that purpose. A few trees in pasture is good for the soil and the animals, but can sometimes be difficult to work around for cutting hay etc. so think carefully where you put them. I would plant hedges of trees around a pasture where I wanted windbreaks, erosion control etc. I would only plant this many trees if I was certain they would do well in that soil, climate etc. Are others growing them in the area?
 
alex Keenan
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I would be concerned about running pigs in your food forest.
I know is sounds great and all that but I have seen many examples of it done wrong and the pigs killing most of the vegetation under the trees.
You might consider running the pigs now and removing some weed trees ( any tree that does not fit your planned ecosystem).
The pigs will likely plow around most of the stumps and increase the chances of the trees you plant not having to compete with other plants as they get a foothold.
You will need enough open space for a seedling to get enough light and some root space.
If you cut in winter you will likely have an opportunity to mushroom plug some of your hardwood stumps.
In fact you may wish to identify which of your hardwoods you are likely to remove that can be used for mushroom logs.

If you are planning mushroom or truffle trees that open space you have with no trees is likely to be your best spot for this activity.
 
Cj Sloane
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alex Keenan wrote:
If you cut in winter you will likely have an opportunity to mushroom plug some of your hardwood stumps.
In fact you may wish to identify which of your hardwoods you are likely to remove that can be used for mushroom logs.


I don't want to go to OT but late winter early spring might be better for inoculating stumps. I'll be cutting down small birch trees this week for inoculation but the spawn run will happen inside where the temps will be more conducive. I have read about people mixing spawn into their bar oil to inoculate stumps that way. Such a small amount of spawn you've got nothing to loose. Just choose the correct tree for the mushroom you want to grow.
 
alex Keenan
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Cj

Since you have experience with stump culture can you elaborate some on:

1) Are you using regular chainsaw oil or a vegatable oil with you add the mushroom spawn.

2) Why late spring on the stumps?

3) Are you working with spawn that cannot freeze well?

4) Which spawn types have you had the most luck with adding to chainsaw?
 
Miles Flansburg
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Hope we aren't scaring you Caleb !

As you can see there is a lot to think about and lots of techniques you can use.

I was thinking you might find some value in looking at some of the youtubes that Joel Salatin has out there.

http://www.polyfacefarms.com/

Looking at the video you posted it looks like you have a lot of underbrush. Not sure if that is young trees coming up or plants of some other kind? Any small fruits like berries in there?
If not it seems like you would have quite a bit of room just by clearing out "pathways" through the brush?
I was thinking that you have a thick stand of trees with a solid canopy but it almost looks like the trees are spaced out pretty good?
By making a plan as mentioned above, finding the contours that will act as swales , and selectvely clearing, it seems that you could really gain a lot of space to grow your fruit trees.
What are the rules as far as your creek goes? Can you make ponds there? Throw rocks across the flow and make small dams?
 
Cj Sloane
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I do not have experience with stump culture! This is something I heard/read. I'll see if I can find a link.

I mainly do shiitake and the people at Field & Forest recommended I bring in any logs I inoculate in late fall / early winter. That's why I'm not sure this is the best time to do it, at least for shiitakes.
 
Cj Sloane
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Hey, there's a thread here on permies about this very topic.
 
alex Keenan
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I know one big reason on the cutting of the log when the tree has sap in the roots is how well the bark will stay on the logs.
Summer cut logs not only have a nutrient issue they can develop loose bark.
 
Dan Grubbs
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Pasture and woodlands .... permie's dream.

My biggest recommendation based on what I've learned over the past three years and by a year of applied experience ... slow down. I wouldn't have had enough information after only a few months of studying permaculture to know what to do with the land. And unless someone is actually there looking at it with you, you have to be careful about applying what someone shares without actually having been on site with you and a very clear understanding of your goals. I'm only sharing this because I was over anxious and very zealous to get started with our newly purchased land and I have made a few key mistakes and have completely changed several key components of my overall plan design based on continued observation and advice from people actually walking the land with me.

But ... if I had both pasture and woodland, I would be ecstatic because I could raise some of the most delicious pork and save bundles on feed. Let hogs do what hogs do on the forest floor and reap the benefits when you slaughter.

Remember, many of us are trying to re-establish what you already have, so be very deliberate about what you cut down.

 
Peter Ellis
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Another voice saying much the same as those before. You really do not want to clear cut. Your new trees will benefit from some protection provided by older trees. The older, established trees include varieties you should be keeping and that would take years to become productive were you to plant them now.

One if the things I believe is fundamental to permaculture is that you are almost never going to be faced with an either or situation, as in either leave your forest, or clear cut it . Permaculture will almost always look for a path that makes the most of what is already there and adds to it what will most benefit from the existing situation, while providing greatest utility to us, the designers. Look for maximum return on minimum effort and you are probably looking at the most permaculture approach.

With an existing forest with some wet spots, I would be looking to see if paw paws have already settled in and if they have not, introduce them. They are an understory tree and will do better in the forest than planted in the open.

It is very much as others have been saying- observe, plan for the long view, take the least action for the most return.
Rushing has a tendency to make more work later, where a bit more planning could have saved lots of effort, probably in both the long and the short run.
 
Dave Burton
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Returning to and elaborating more on the advise that others, I think the Plants For a Future Database will come in handy for checking information about plants and discovering new ones for your property. The Midwest Permaculture Plant Guilds EBook has diagrams on two guilds (walnut and oak) which, I think, will be useful for your situation. I also found some permaculture groups around East TN (Johnson City, Knoxville, Sequatchie Cove Farm), not a complete listing- more to be found at PermacultureGlobal, along with a YouTube channel about Living Green in TN. I think knowing what other people near you are doing may be useful.
 
caleb matheny
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Can someone help me identify this tree, I will post a picture of a possible leaf.

I want to say it's some kind of maple, but I don't know.

http://youtu.be/x1eEXdnvRHc
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
Possible leaf.
 
Peter Ellis
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Looking at your video (it was not working for me earlier today) I have to say that your forest looks to me like fairly young secondary growth. Mostly young trees, pretty open canopy or you would not have so much understory brush. My inclination would be to get in there and clear the understory, cut out any unhealthy looking trees of whatever size or variety, and then go through and very selectively choose the useful/productive/beneficial trees that I was going to keep. Once the keepers were identified, I would think about what I was going to do with the rest. Firewood? Mushroom culture? Construction projects? Take the time to figure out what to do with which before the cutting starts .

Then when I started cutting, I would work the plan, with the trees going to whatever their assigned purpose, trying to work as efficiently as possible. I might layout a grid pattern and work section by section, doing all of the felling and hauling out of one area at a time. Figure what progression through the layout would be most efficient in terms of overall effort. For example, you might not want to start by the creek and have to try and haul trees back through all the other trees. It might make more sense to start at the front, so each section further back you were dragging through more open terrain.

It might make sense to do all the way across the meadow side, plant some of your food forest trees in a couple of those sections to get them started and then keep working the back sections pulling them out through an open section at the front where you don't plant food forest yet.

I would think about productive understory trees, like hazelnuts and pawpaws that will benefit from your existing trees. I understand some serviceberries also like the understory and some say they are tastier than blueberries.

I would definitely consider running goats or pigs to clear much of the underbrush for me and convert it into useful products. Permaculture always seeks a yield.
Using electric fencing, as demonstrated by Polyface Farms, could make that more possible than you might expect.
 
caleb matheny
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Peter Ellis wrote:Looking at your video (it was not working for me earlier today) I have to say that your forest looks to me like fairly young secondary growth. Mostly young trees, pretty open canopy or you would not have so much understory brush. My inclination would be to get in there and clear the understory, cut out any unhealthy looking trees of whatever size or variety, and then go through and very selectively choose the useful/productive/beneficial trees that I was going to keep. Once the keepers were identified, I would think about what I was going to do with the rest. Firewood? Mushroom culture? Construction projects? Take the time to figure out what to do with which before the cutting starts .

Then when I started cutting, I would work the plan, with the trees going to whatever their assigned purpose, trying to work as efficiently as possible. I might layout a grid pattern and work section by section, doing all of the felling and hauling out of one area at a time. Figure what progression through the layout would be most efficient in terms of overall effort. For example, you might not want to start by the creek and have to try and haul trees back through all the other trees. It might make more sense to start at the front, so each section further back you were dragging through more open terrain.

It might make sense to do all the way across the meadow side, plant some of your food forest trees in a couple of those sections to get them started and then keep working the back sections pulling them out through an open section at the front where you don't plant food forest yet.

I would think about productive understory trees, like hazelnuts and pawpaws that will benefit from your existing trees. I understand some serviceberries also like the understory and some say they are tastier than blueberries.

I would definitely consider running goats or pigs to clear much of the underbrush for me and convert it into useful products. Permaculture always seeks a yield.
Using electric fencing, as demonstrated by Polyface Farms, could make that more possible than you might expect.



I spent a lot of time back there today, and i have to say, I think your right. There are about 15 trees that are significantly older than everything else. then there are a lot of young trees. I think I will get a few pigs and run them back there to clean everything up. I need to electric fence it off, maybe in paddocks first. Also, there is a lot of dead trees that i can cut down and clear it out a bit. I think once i get this going there will be far less competition for everything, and my productive trees can thrive.


Also, does that leaf and tree look like a sugar maple, I have been researching it, and i think thats what it is, or at least i am really hoping because its huge and would be great for syrup!

Picked up about 50 black walnuts in 5 minutes today, and can not wait until to make some black walnut syrup this February (thanks to the suggestion of someone on this forum) i didn't even know that was possible.

I tell ya, once you get to learning about all this it really is addictive.

 
Dan Boone
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About those dead trees: you may want to consider leaving a small number of dead snags for wildlife habitat. Birds especially use snags for perching, nesting, and bug-eating. Birds are good to have; they eat a lot of pest bugs, they poop fertilizer, they spread seeds, and they bring a forest alive with singing, calling, and activity.

I'm not talking about saving most or even many dead trees. Getting rid of most to open up space is what I would do, too. But a few solid well-placed ones are worth considering.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Caleb,

Welcome to Permies...

I must agree with those that have warned against any clear cutting...my main reason is your lack of a forestry background. Even in the hands of professionals, clearcutting (which we do sometimes) is very invasive to a biome and must really be considered with great thought, planning and with good biome surveys for cross comparative analysis. If you have a solid ecology, forestry, field biology background...take your time and go for the clear cut...it you don't have those skill sets. Stick with selective low impact harvesting by an experience "feller and hauler," for the trees you need for your building needs. The idea of "wide paths" well planed out for your "food forest" logistical needs is an excellent one.

As for "sap in logs" don't worry about that too much. It is pretty much an "old wives tail" than an actuality except for certain grades of veneer log and only for certain species and even this is only a marginal concern. Bark will slip easier off the trees in early spring and early summer cutting than the rest of the year for most species in North America. Do get the bark off as soon as possible and don't let the logs sit on the ground for more than a week if you are not going to mill them right away. End seal the Bolts and/or Cants as soon as you can with a wax base end sealer. If you design well and use a more natural and/or traditional modality of building you need not "age or season" the wood and all, and in reality building with green wood (i.e. wet) is the way it has been done traditional (and still today) in most of the world.

Good luck, and keep us up to speed with you projects.

Regards,

j
 
Benjamin Sizemore
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No to the clearcut!

The most productive areas on Earth are oak savannah, which is stands of trees with open area in between. You are in a unique position to pull a yield (nuts) from the mature trees - starting now - and inter crop another yield in the open areas. The shocking oversight by all ranchers is the benefit of shade to grazing animals and the effect of edges on productivity. So, you can run pigs and chickens in the shady leaf litter starting now - pigs will find all the nuts and the chickens will gorge themselves on the bugs and worms under the leaf litter... then they will eliminate the TICKS you are bound to get (until you got chickens). And you can pull a small yield from berries and figs that you plant in clearings the first year if the flukey spring frosts aren't too bad.

I would go through with marker tape and mark all but maybe three black walnuts for culling because they are allelopathic to other trees. Over the rest of the forest, open up patches of maybe 50-100 feet across by culling big trees, but leave dead ones and young trees. It will take 5 years, but eventually you want the whole place to be open with stands of perhaps one half dozen to two dozen mature trees or new mixed orchard trees in clumps. Cut young ones as needed over time for poles and sun. All the the mature timber is valuable and all of the branches from cut trees can be used in Hugel beds, chipped for mulch or cut and drilled for mushroom cultivation. To get more money for cut hardwood, look to the WEST where they have no trees. You'll get a premium.

Ten acres is not that big and I would look into fencing the entire tract with 8 foot game fence for the sake of letting pigs and chickens run wild and keeping out the deer. Although, you WILL need to keep moveable electric fence on hand for protecting new plantings and resting land. There are so many worms and crickets under those leaves, though, you can can run a crapload of chickens on ten acres of forest.

I would also think about opening up some larger areas - 1/4 acre each, maybe - for mixed orchards, but keep them separated so no pest gets to hop between 2 similar trees without predator pressure. In your current open field, you can plant sparse mixed orchard and see the savannah effect very quickly. Grass grows like gangbusters in clearings between trees. Think about the mature height of the trees you have and plant smaller stuff next to them - figs, berries, elderberry, dwarf next to non-grafted etc. Don't forget the legumes and the sacrificial choppers! Grapes, hops and kiwis can be planted next to mature or semi mature old-growth trees that are girdled (killed) and converted to the role of trellis.

I've advised on the design of some properties in TN and VA, so I spent a lot of time thinking about it. That's a great ecosystem - one of the best, if it weren't for the flukey spring frosts :\. But you can make up for any crop failure by growing fish and prawns in a pond. You can also grow cattails and lotus in the pond bed and fatten a ton of pigs on the root mass. You have a lot of clay there, but it's neutral-ish in Ph and you can plant a thick crop of daikon radish, mustard (now, in the winter) and sacrificial sweet potatoes (spring) to really open up the soil. That and/or spread couple tons of gypsum pellets.

I cannot recommend the PDC course enough. It's essential. I never took it , but I read the big book (permaculture design manual) three times and watched the $400 CD lecture series probably a dozen times. That's the entire course, so... I've also read up on Joel Salatin and every other dude who publishes - Ben Falk, Sepp Holtzer, Toby Hemenway, Mark Shepard, watched the CSU Hooker course... Do the course, read those books and then go to somebody else's property and design that to be your ideal - after doing the course. Then return to your own property with fresh eyes.

You are sitting on a profitable paradise once you wrap your head around the full concept of permaculture, which, I think, most people tend to miss. Start at the top of the hill and work your way down to the bottom, making a list of all the different yields you can foster on the way down. If you have two hills, it's twice as good! Everything is a yield, even the pests. I mean, ticks are chicken food!

Hope that helps!










 
Peter Ellis
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Don't rush to cut those walnuts. Sure they are allelopathic. They also produce walnuts! And look around them. Are they standing alone in a clearing with bare ground surrounding them? My bet is they are not. Quite a few useful trees can grow near walnuts unharmed. If your walnuts don't have mulberry or paw paws growing near thme already, you could plan on adding them. Both will benefit from the walnut suppressing other plants.
think of allelopathic as another trait to work with, not a liability, and you can find ways to use it to your benefit.
 
Cj Sloane
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Benjamin Sizemore wrote:
The most productive areas on Earth are oak savannah, which is stands of trees with open area in between. You are in a unique position to pull a yield (nuts) from the mature trees - starting now - and inter crop another yield in the open areas. The shocking oversight by all ranchers is the benefit of shade to grazing animals and the effect of edges on productivity. So, you can run pigs and chickens in the shady leaf litter starting now - pigs will find all the nuts and the chickens will gorge themselves on the bugs and worms under the leaf litter... then they will eliminate the TICKS you are bound to get (until you got chickens).


I agree with much of what Benjamin said but... Mangroves are the most productive areas on Earth.

Chickens are OK with ticks but they wont eliminate ticks. I've got at least 30 free range chickens in a relatively small area <2 acres and the dogs got plenty of ticks and I had to remove 4 off of myself. I think I'll try Gunea fowl next spring as they are supposed to be much better tick eaters.

8 acres is a big area to fence in. If you let the chickens run free you wont have to feed them thru much of the year but you wont get many eggs & you'll have lots of roosters to cull (good for soup). I would not want pigs free ranging over 8 acres - I'd need a gun to feel safe walking around because they would have no problem eating me!
 
Benjamin Sizemore
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Cj Verde wrote:
Benjamin Sizemore wrote:
The most productive areas on Earth are oak savannah, which is stands of trees with open area in between. You are in a unique position to pull a yield (nuts) from the mature trees - starting now - and inter crop another yield in the open areas. The shocking oversight by all ranchers is the benefit of shade to grazing animals and the effect of edges on productivity. So, you can run pigs and chickens in the shady leaf litter starting now - pigs will find all the nuts and the chickens will gorge themselves on the bugs and worms under the leaf litter... then they will eliminate the TICKS you are bound to get (until you got chickens).


I agree with much of what Benjamin said but... Mangroves are the most productive areas on Earth.

Chickens are OK with ticks but they wont eliminate ticks. I've got at least 30 free range chickens in a relatively small area <2 acres and the dogs got plenty of ticks and I had to remove 4 off of myself. I think I'll try Gunea fowl next spring as they are supposed to be much better tick eaters.

8 acres is a big area to fence in. If you let the chickens run free you wont have to feed them thru much of the year but you wont get many eggs & you'll have lots of roosters to cull (good for soup). I would not want pigs free ranging over 8 acres - I'd need a gun to feel safe walking around because they would have no problem eating me!


I agree that guinea fowl are known to be better at eating ticks. Most people've never heard of them, however. I heard from a lady that her ducks eat mosquitoes right off her arm! So, most fowl seem to be into that sort of thing. Back to chickens, though, they like to be in some place cozy at night, so they can be trained to sleep in a coop - or several. That way you get more of the eggs. It's a personal choice whether you want them totally feral and roosting in the trees. Would lose a lot of them to hawks. I dunno about your pigs. Maybe you could put some politicians and bankers in the pen with them?
 
Matt Darkstar
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Pretty good suggestions all around so far, just a few things to add
1) Build diversity, don't remove any species that you don't have more of on your land, when you do cut a tree make sure you have at least 2 or 3 other new species, not found on your land to replace it with
2) Start slow, you can always create more pasture, you can't create a semi mature woodland (except for your grandchildren.
3) Consider adding a coppice to your plan. Benefits include fuel to burn or sell, excellent habitat, soil stabilization, substrate for shrooms.
4) Do not graze pigs in any area where you are not prepared to lose 100% of the plant life, they can seriously dig and destroy even mature trees if so inclined.

Best of luck
 
Philip Nafziger
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Location: Columbia, Ky
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Hey Caleb.
I am in similar situation as you. I have 3 acres of marginal wooded hills in south central ky. I first began by clearing all the flat ish spots, that wouldn't erode if there wasn't a tree cover, for gardens etc. I can take great consolation in the fact that if I didn't touch the spots I had cleared, in 15 years it would be impossible to tell if I had done anything. Clearing areas like that gives great edge to your property. On the very edge is your large natives like oaks maples etc, then you could plant fruit tress besides these as your next layer, and then bushes beside the fruit, and then ground crops etc.

Also I would encourage you to consider planting smaller trees or plant from seed. Studies show that if you plant a 7 ft tree and and 1 ft tree beside it, the 1 ft tree will pass the 7 ft tree in height within a few years, it will also be healthier, stronger and more drought resistant because it has a tap root whereas the large transplant does not.

Now is a great time to throw out fruit seeds so that the freeze/thaws can work the tough seed coating. The seeds will pop up in the spring when they are ready. sepp holzer does something like this. He has a swath cut in his forest and treats it like a nursery. He just throws a bunch of fruit seeds out, let's it come up on its own, then transplants the healthy starts.

Good luck! Phil
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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