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Help me design my property. Pretty much a blank slate. Georgia 30635 (zone 8?)  RSS feed

 
Tom Scialla
Posts: 22
Location: The great state of Georgia
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I just bought 7.9 acres in Elberton, GA. The home has a 4 BR 2 BA mobile home, with gas heat, stove, etc, a deep well, and septic system. Eventually I will be putting a 1500sf earthbag building where the shed is now, conveniently located between the well and the septic. This home will be set up with a full PV Solar array on the roof providing more electricity than I will be using. So, keep in mind that this is the eventual plan. When I finish construction on the new home, the mobile home will be sold. Until then, this is what I'm dealing with.

I am looking to accomplish a few things.

I want some livestock.
Southdown Babydoll Sheep
Kune Kune Pigs
Delaware Chickens
(maybe a few ducks & Geese)
(maybe a handful of Nigerian Dairy Goats?)

At most I am going to have five acres of really good pasture. Maybe up to six acres depending on how I can lay everything out, but five is safe to assume. So, I am not going to have a ton of animals. I was thinking maybe a trio of pigs, a ram and half a dozen ewes? Maybe three dozen hens? A small handful of ducks (maybe) and probably a trio of geese?

I am planning on raising a variety of insects to supplement what my chickens find naturally. I am hoping to avoid buying feed entirely.

What I would like from you guys is advice on how to lay this property out. I know that I want fruit and nut trees. I know that I want berry bushes. I know that I want to use raised bed gardens and container gardens for growing my own food.

There is a small store next to my property that is closing. They sell live bait, I am located right between the main town on the highway to the boat ramp. Its a great spot to sell livebait, so I would like to set up a small pond to try my hand at raising lake chubsuckers, golden shiners, and papershell crayfish to sell as bait for another small source of income. I would probably avoid having ducks if I have a pond. I think that a trio of geese would be okay, but a bunch of ducks would probably wreck a small pond. Advice appreciated.

I plan on planting suitable trees for cover for the livestock. I don't plan on providing them with actual buildings to use as shelter. They will get something temporary until the landscape grows to a suitable size to provide cover, but that is the eventual goal.

Lets look at the property and get some ideas flowing. I am open to a lot of things.

Oh, sorry to jump all around like this, but I am planning on planting some additional species in the pasture to make it more well rounded. I believe that its all Bermuda grass now. It has been a hayfield forever. At the very least I will be adding clover and some coll season grasses. I would like to add some novel endophyte tall fescue and some other things. Those ideas are appreciated as well.

Okay, go! LOL

Yellow arrows are utility poles
Blue arrow is the well
Purple arrow is the shed (12' x 16')
Red arrow is the gas tank
Brown arrow is the septic
blankslate.jpg
[Thumbnail for blankslate.jpg]
aerial view - red arrow on compass is north
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Here are my plans for a smaller site, but you can probably glean some ideas.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fuTe-_RqYbJzydin5nLpcRjuNRXDdT7NMoJ4EbpsJAo/edit?pli=1
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
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It is a pleasure to have you here with us Tom!

I would like to inquire how much do you know about permaculture already? How much help/guidance are you looking for in the design process? Do you know how to write a design plan?

Here are the general steps in creating a permaculture design for a property: (these are the ones I used when I took my pdc)
1. Set your goals and conduct thorough research
2. Collect, Organize, and Analyze the data that has been collected
3. Create a Base Map (you already did)
4. Do a Sector and Zone Analysis of the Site
5. Write the design and play around with the information you collected and the ideas in your head and figure out how it will all happen
6. Implement the design and adapt and respond to change

The design process is going to be long and time consuming no matter which way you put it.

It may be useful to create a folder on Google Drive with all the documents, maps, and drawings in one place and crate a shareable link. Also, in specific documents, the setting can be changed to allow comments from people with the link. This way everything can updated and commented on without becoming too messy. The only trouble that may come is people posting rude or irrelevant comments, and in which case, the link can be turned off.

To begin getting things in order, I advise filling out one or two Permaculture Design Client Questionnaires. This will help you get a clearer idea of what your objectives are and see what information you will need throughout the design process. Not everything is necessary, but the more you know the better.

Here are some resources to help get you started:
Open Permaculture
Deep Green Permaculture

Paul Wheaton Keynote
Bill Mollison Lecture Series
Jack Spirko Permaculture Series
Permaculture News

United Diversity Library
Open Library
Internet Archive

Places to look for data:
National Web Soil Survey (to find soil data)
National Map Viewer (good for seeing the contours and elevations of your land)

Weather Spark (great easy to understand graphs of annual data)
Weather Underground (great daily and weekly information)
RSS Weather has good climate graphs

Sun Position Calculator is a great way to see how the sun travels across the sky in your area. It also gives the solar declination and azimuth data, too. On the left hand of their webpage they have links to various articles of theirs explaining what this information means and more.

Plants For A Future is a wonderful database for finding potential plants to grow

You can connect with local permaculturey people through the Permaculture Global Network
 
Tom Scialla
Posts: 22
Location: The great state of Georgia
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S Bengi wrote:Here are my plans for a smaller site, but you can probably glean some ideas.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fuTe-_RqYbJzydin5nLpcRjuNRXDdT7NMoJ4EbpsJAo/edit?pli=1


You are planting A LOT more trees than I am. I'm hoping for that Savannah kind of look. I still need a lot of grass to feed livestock with. I'm not planning on selling fruit or nuts to try to make money, so I couldn't imagine over 100 trees producing edibles.

I was thinking maybe two dozen trees that produce food. I think that if I had 18 fruit trees and half a dozen nut trees, I would have plenty of fruits and nuts for me and some to bolster my animal feed.

I get much more enjoyment out of raising animals than I do raising apples anyway.

Also, I don't really need to worry about firewood. This isn't like when I lived in the North East or when I lived in Ohio. Winters are not bad at all. If I decided to put a wood burning stove in I would have no problem scavenging for wood to feed it. I could simply be on the look out for oak trees that need to be removed from places and I could have more than enough to stockpile.

I'm trying to learn a lot more about things that can be planted to create renewable sources of animal feed.
 
Tom Scialla
Posts: 22
Location: The great state of Georgia
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Dave Burton wrote:It is a pleasure to have you here with us Tom!

I would like to inquire how much do you know about permaculture already? How much help/guidance are you looking for in the design process? Do you know how to write a design plan?

Here are the general steps in creating a permaculture design for a property: (these are the ones I used when I took my pdc)
1. Set your goals and conduct thorough research
2. Collect, Organize, and Analyze the data that has been collected
3. Create a Base Map (you already did)
4. Do a Sector and Zone Analysis of the Site
5. Write the design and play around with the information you collected and the ideas in your head and figure out how it will all happen
6. Implement the design and adapt and respond to change

The design process is going to be long and time consuming no matter which way you put it.

It may be useful to create a folder on Google Drive with all the documents, maps, and drawings in one place and crate a shareable link. Also, in specific documents, the setting can be changed to allow comments from people with the link. This way everything can updated and commented on without becoming too messy. The only trouble that may come is people posting rude or irrelevant comments, and in which case, the link can be turned off.

To begin getting things in order, I advise filling out one or two Permaculture Design Client Questionnaires. This will help you get a clearer idea of what your objectives are and see what information you will need throughout the design process. Not everything is necessary, but the more you know the better.

Here are some resources to help get you started:
Open Permaculture
Deep Green Permaculture

Paul Wheaton Keynote
Bill Mollison Lecture Series
Jack Spirko Permaculture Series
Permaculture News

United Diversity Library
Open Library
Internet Archive

Places to look for data:
National Web Soil Survey (to find soil data)
National Map Viewer (good for seeing the contours and elevations of your land)

Weather Spark (great easy to understand graphs of annual data)
Weather Underground (great daily and weekly information)
RSS Weather has good climate graphs

Sun Position Calculator is a great way to see how the sun travels across the sky in your area. It also gives the solar declination and azimuth data, too. On the left hand of their webpage they have links to various articles of theirs explaining what this information means and more.

Plants For A Future is a wonderful database for finding potential plants to grow

You can connect with local permaculturey people through the Permaculture Global Network


I'm not an expert in by the book permaculture like you guys are, but I grew up on a place smaller than this one and we didn't buy a lot of food. I am basically brand new to Georgia though. I have never grown so much as a blade of grass in this state. I would think that because it stays warmer and gets more rain than where I am from, I should be okay.

I should add that I am looking to use permaculture principals to help me accomplish some goals. I don't want a solid forest of trees. I don't know if I will be make swales and all of that stuff. I am just trying to grow food for myself and for my animals, but still have a lot of pasture area.

It would be nice if I could get some kind of green house/hydroponic/fish farm cooking too. Nothing on any large scale, but it would be cool to be able to eat fish once a week...or maybe giant crawdads? I'm trying to have a very healthy and very redundant food supply. I won't have a mortgage, I won't have a water bill, I won't have a sewer bill...and after I get the other house built with the solar array I won't have a power bill. If I cant eliminate my grocery bill, I will be almost 100% self sufficient.

I would like to be able to completely reverse my life. I want to spend 60+ hours per week outside farting around and less than 20 hours a week participating in an actual career. I am fortunate in that I work as an insurance broker. I could work VERY part time selling just one product and make at least $1200 a month pretty easily. So, I will be able to pay the little bills that I will have left and I will be able to continue to develop the property to produce as many little streams of income as possible.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1379
Location: northern California
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Judging from the photo, that place really is a "blank slate"....without being crowded with trees, outbuildings, fences and other infrastructure that a lot of people end up wishing wasn't there or in a different place and working around forever.
In particular, it points up an opportunity for the earthworks stage, which is often neglected or underutilized on small, crowded sites. So I would do some contour maps and consider ponds, swales, keyline plowing and such like, before you get anything else permanent in place.
 
Tom Scialla
Posts: 22
Location: The great state of Georgia
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Alder Burns wrote:Judging from the photo, that place really is a "blank slate"....without being crowded with trees, outbuildings, fences and other infrastructure that a lot of people end up wishing wasn't there or in a different place and working around forever.
In particular, it points up an opportunity for the earthworks stage, which is often neglected or underutilized on small, crowded sites. So I would do some contour maps and consider ponds, swales, keyline plowing and such like, before you get anything else permanent in place.


I photoshopped out the garbage trees that are there now as they will be removed as soon as I am occupying the property full time starting next month.

I will include a picture with the trees so that you can see, but they are NOT staying.

I would much rather plant the trees that I want and not have the trees that are of no value to me.
 
Tom Scialla
Posts: 22
Location: The great state of Georgia
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This picture shows the trees that are there now.

They are mostly little scrubby brushy garbage. I have no use for them and would much rather have true blank slate.
trees.jpg
[Thumbnail for trees.jpg]
 
George Hayduke
Posts: 46
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Plan enough to figure out the correct location of your fruit and nut trees, and plant them now (particularly the nut trees). You can figure out the rest later. It will take a decade before some of these trees are significantly productive.

Incidentally, I'm in Zone 8b and I've done a project very similar to yours. The good news is that you have great solar exposure, because now you're in the business of converting sunlight into food and electricity.

 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I like the idea of planting a hedgerow around the entire property, maybe with have 15ft tall hazelnut/pawpaw/etc. Then figure out where you are going to put the pastures and divide it up with some fruiting hedgerow.


Maybe place a series of connected watering holes/ponds in each section.
 
Tom Scialla
Posts: 22
Location: The great state of Georgia
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George Hayduke wrote:Plan enough to figure out the correct location of your fruit and nut trees, and plant them now (particularly the nut trees). You can figure out the rest later. It will take a decade before some of these trees are significantly productive.

Incidentally, I'm in Zone 8b and I've done a project very similar to yours. The good news is that you have great solar exposure, because now you're in the business of converting sunlight into food and electricity.



I was VERY disappointed to see that the house was not positioned north to south. This makes it super hard to install solar. So then I figured I will just move the house. Then I ran into the whole the septic and well are right here. So, now it looks like I will be building something, oriented properly, behind the current house between the well and septic. Once this dwelling is complete I will be sending the mobile home down the road where it and its gas appliance can be someone else headache.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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It looks like the backslope of your roof is SouthWest which is great for a solar system
 
George Hayduke
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Tom Scialla wrote:
George Hayduke wrote:Plan enough to figure out the correct location of your fruit and nut trees, and plant them now (particularly the nut trees). You can figure out the rest later. It will take a decade before some of these trees are significantly productive.

Incidentally, I'm in Zone 8b and I've done a project very similar to yours. The good news is that you have great solar exposure, because now you're in the business of converting sunlight into food and electricity.



I was VERY disappointed to see that the house was not positioned north to south. This makes it super hard to install solar. So then I figured I will just move the house. Then I ran into the whole the septic and well are right here. So, now it looks like I will be building something, oriented properly, behind the current house between the well and septic. Once this dwelling is complete I will be sending the mobile home down the road where it and its gas appliance can be someone else headache.


I was referring to the solar exposure of your property generally. It's great that you don't have adjacent trees casting long shadows on your property.

Again, if it were me, I'd be planting pecans, chestnuts, walnuts, and ginkgo in the next four weeks while they're still dormant and easy to get rooted without a lot of artificial irrigation.

Yes, ideally all roof surfaces would be facing south and at the optimum angle to capture solar energy. Angling it properly does make for an unconventional roof but one that works well. You can see a pic of one of my solar sheds below. After you ditch the mobile home you might want to think about building a home out of shipping containers. They have flat, strong roofs that can hold a large solar array.




 
Tom Scialla
Posts: 22
Location: The great state of Georgia
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George Hayduke wrote:
Tom Scialla wrote:
George Hayduke wrote:Plan enough to figure out the correct location of your fruit and nut trees, and plant them now (particularly the nut trees). You can figure out the rest later. It will take a decade before some of these trees are significantly productive.

Incidentally, I'm in Zone 8b and I've done a project very similar to yours. The good news is that you have great solar exposure, because now you're in the business of converting sunlight into food and electricity.



I was VERY disappointed to see that the house was not positioned north to south. This makes it super hard to install solar. So then I figured I will just move the house. Then I ran into the whole the septic and well are right here. So, now it looks like I will be building something, oriented properly, behind the current house between the well and septic. Once this dwelling is complete I will be sending the mobile home down the road where it and its gas appliance can be someone else headache.


I was referring to the solar exposure of your property generally. It's great that you don't have adjacent trees casting long shadows on your property.

Again, if it were me, I'd be planting pecans, chestnuts, walnuts, and ginkgo in the next four weeks while they're still dormant and easy to get rooted without a lot of artificial irrigation.

Yes, ideally all roof surfaces would be facing south and at the optimum angle to capture solar energy. Angling it properly does make for an unconventional roof but one that works well. You can see a pic of one of my solar sheds below. After you ditch the mobile home you might want to think about building a home out of shipping containers. They have flat, strong roofs that can hold a large solar array.






I would really like to go with a steel building (somewhere in the 1500sf to 2400sf area) simply for time and ease of construction.

I would face the back of the dwelling due south for proper solar alignment and I would have about 800sf of steel roof to put solar on with no problems. I would spend a great deal of focus on really insulating and making things as frugal electrically as possible. I want everything on my whole place to run on electric.

I don't really care so much about how it looks. I am much more concerned with the functionality of everything. I would much rather have functionality, durability, and ease of maintenance than something that looks like it belongs in H&G magazine.

If I can manage to find some labor I will be going earthbag instead with a metal roof. The same principles would apply though in regard to insulation, and energy conservation.
 
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