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What should I start planting year one?

 
Daniel Johnson
Posts: 10
Location: Canyonville, OR
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I have about 2 acres to develop into a mixture of food forest, ponds, and animal feed for sheep and goats. I was told the first year should mostly be about learning the land which I intend to do, but would it be nice to have a head start on some of the critical plants? I live in Canyonville, OR in zone 8/9 what types of plants do you think might be good to start planting around the property to get a head start? Or even are their a few things I can do to start getting the land ready?

1) Obviously vegetable garden beds around the home
2) Mint?
3) stinging nettle?
4) Jerusalem artichokes?
5) Comfrey?

Keeping in mind that it is late july right now.
 
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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I suggest using the Plants For a Future Database to find some plants that you can grow right now. Be sure to look through all the filters that can be used in searching the database; they're very useful!

Do you have any specific goals right now?

Do you have an aerial picture of the site?

Have you started working on a design yet?

For more information about doing the design process yourself and continuing your permaculture education, please visit the Guide to Getting Help on Projects thread on permies.
 
Daniel Johnson
Posts: 10
Location: Canyonville, OR
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Here is the layout of the land. It is oriented with north at the top.

Their are two wells on the property at the NE and Mid West sides of the property (this one is dug but not hooked up to any pumps or hoses yet). A barn is at the far southern area of the land.

On the south side of the property their is a lower elevation area in the middle which I think would be perfect for some ponds and work some swales and burms around that. Most of the land is covered with grass. We have a number of small and large douglas fur trees in the back with a couple of mature white oaks towards the middle. I think this aerial is probably 5 years old so the tree growth is a bit bigger currently.

The goal for the land is to provide the majority of the food for our family from a wide variety of fruit and nut trees, bushes, vegetables, etc with sheep and goats rotating around on the land in the front and back. We would like to have a very diverse and fruitful land with an abundance we can share and sell to others.
2.5Acres.png
[Thumbnail for 2.5Acres.png]
 
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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What do you like to eat? This will determine what to grow inside the home, beside the home, and in the near vicinity to the home. I do not know what you and your family like to eat.

Comfrey, stinging nettles, jerusalem artichokes, and mint are all good plants to choose. I think will be able to live in your area pretty well! When planting comfrey, be sure to treat it as a permanent structure; once planted, it is extremely hard to impossible to remove. And the same goes with Jerusalem Artichokes, too!

Permaculture Design is a site specific thing, and yes, I did locate your site on Google Maps so that I could try and pull up data to help advise you. I'm smart and friendly, so don't worry about me.

Zones 0 and Zone 1 are the main ones to start developing. Once these are under control, it is easier to expand outwards. I pulled up some weather data from WeatherSpark from a city near Canyonville, OR. I tried pulling up information about the slopes and elevations of your site, so that I can suggest where plants could possibly go, but public online data- I'm aware of for searching- could not be found. I advise analyzing the slopes of your land to determine placement in various ways: goign to your local city or county land office for a map, observing your land yourself, taking measurements with a bunyip or A-Frame.

With the data I found, I would also suggest developing a windbreak on the North and South sides of your site, if wind is an issue.

Please enumerate your design and vision for your site more for more specific advice.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1341
Location: northern California
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The oaks are a valuable food tree, and worth learning about and preserving. Are they healthy and do they/have they produced acorns? Acorns are good food and feed....you can learn more about them elsewhere on this site. Western oaks are often stressed by a lot of irrigation under/close to them so bear this in mind as you design.
 
Thom Foote
Posts: 33
Location: Colbert, WA
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I would suggest that you know what your purpose is or is going to be. Have a tentative 5 year plan with some milestones. While go slow take small steps is a good principle, sometimes you have to "get the stuff in the ground". Don't rush. Do it right to minimize having to correct things later. Observe.
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1113
Location: Pacific Northwest
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I second what people are saying about the sunchokes/jerusalum artichokes, as well as the comfrey: once you plant them, they won't be leaving! I'd wait on the comfry until you know where you're planting your fruit trees. If there is an area you're SURE you won't mind it always being in, you can plant some now to break up and put around your fruit trees when you plant them. If you're positive about the sunchokes, you can do the same. You can plant a few (they're costly unless you know someone giving them away). That way, they'll have reproduced enough to be a crop when you decide what larger area you want to plant them in.

As for the mint, I would not plant it unless you reeeeeeeaaly want it to take over. Because it will. You can put it in a pot or a large container, but I wouldn't put it in the ground.

Nettle seems like a great idea. Just put a little thought into where it's going. We got lucky as our property naturally had a nettle patch that's not so close to our house that we or our kid rub up against it, but it's also not so far away that we never go to harvest it. Try not to put it near any major paths or where you might end up gardening and encountering it when you're trying to pick veggies or berries!

If you really want to get started with growing something, you could always plant a bunch of buckwheat. It'll be good forage for your animals when you have them--especially if it re-seeds itself. It also makes a nice "grain" and fixes nitrogen in the soil, and I believe it grows this time of the year, too. It's my first year growing it, so I don't have much experience. Alternatively, you could also plant a bunch of clover, to double as eventual animal feed as well as fixing nitrogen to improve the soil.
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1113
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Thinking further about the sunchokes and looking at your map, I thought I'd mention I ended up planting mine against my barn. Since my property is north-facing, I didn't want them shadowing anything else out. I also thought I'd mention that your animals might love eating them, so perhaps planting them by the barn might not be too bad of an idea. They can multiply there until you have livestock and/or know another place you closer to home that you want to grow them permanently. By planting them by the barn, they'll multiply, and if you decide you don't really like them, they're not taking over a place you have fruit trees or a garden, and the animals will eat/trample them so they don't take over. Our DUCKS love our sunchokes, they eat all the leaves they can reach (I had to fence them off to get them that tall), and the ducks have even knocked over a few of them to eat the rest of the leaves. And those are ducks. I can only imagine that sheep and goats would maintain them even better, once you get them.

I'd plant buckwheat &/or clover in your open/grassy areas, maybe just in the areas where the grass is thin/dying so it's easier to poke the seeds into the soil, and it will rejuvenate those areas.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 1993
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I always make establishment of the orchard my highest priority. Some of the trees might be 3 to 15 years away from their first fruits/nuts. Might as well get started as soon as possible.

 
Eric Grenier
Posts: 27
Location: 100 acres in Abitibi, Quebec, Canada zone 2a
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Look at what perennials local people have and start with those. Guaranteed they work and you can probably trade and or get some for free. For us rhubarb, chives, raspberries, strawberries, Egyptian onions, gooseberries, mint, casis are local. Also check what wild edibles are around and propagate those or get bigger/ tastier cousins as they will do well too. Good luck, don't give up because when your loved ones eat the food you planted year after year it will all be worth it and others will follow
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 782
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I would simply start somewhere close to the house were there is enough sun not too windy maybe nicely sheltered. There you grow your vegetables. Maybe you put in some hills with squash here and there to see what works. I would combine poultry with the orchard, that means a good fence. 10x10m of vegetables is plenty for the first year, depending on your soil. Then figure out how many trees you want to grow if you want to espalier them or if you want bigger trees, that gives you the size of the orchard. You can have various small orchards too because it is always handy to separate different breeds of chicken.
You can wait until winter for the orchard though then you have a better feel of your property.
Mint is not a crop it is more of a pest. How much mint tea do you want to drink? Comfrey is usefull but as said before. Jerusalem artichokes can be used to make a spirit. Potatoes are a good thing to start.
 
Eric Grenier
Posts: 27
Location: 100 acres in Abitibi, Quebec, Canada zone 2a
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Angelika Maier wrote:Mint is not a crop it is more of a pest

A lot of people seem to think mint is bad; may go rampant and take over the world. If anything edible took over the world people would'nt die of starvation anymore. People with acreage love mint. The trick is to use it properly with a proper border. Mine hasn't gone rampant but my climate has much to do with that. Plant mint in a problem area where other things have trouble growing or need protection such as a tree. Natural boundaries such as Swales and rocks can help mitigate this. jack spirko sells mint/ lemon balm/ and something else tea for a good profit and sells cutting in pots. It's not a garden plant; it's a zone 5 harvest a forget it plant because it's a survivor. Just put a UV protected tarp pot or rocks around it if you have a small yard. Dry it and sell it in farmers markets and enjoy it over the winter months
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1113
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I always make establishment of the orchard my highest priority. Some of the trees might be 3 to 15 years away from their first fruits/nuts. Might as well get started as soon as possible.



I agree that the orchard is the first priority, but if she does not yet know where it would be best to plant them, planting some buckwheat or other nitrogen fixer in the mean time should be useful, right? I'd hate to plant the fruit trees only to have to dig them up and move them, but maybe transplanting is not as risky as I think it is...
 
Zach Muller
gardener
Posts: 777
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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I have recently just moved to a new place so I got to go through the initial phase. Since I had chickens they were my first item to set up since I had to have that on day 1. I saved a lot of plants and trees from my old garden so next was installing them. I had a long time before moving in to make preliminary plans for coop location, and had about 50 drafts drawn up of how to arrange my trees.

I put in all my trees in what is zone 1-2 , and installed a garden right next to the kitchen door, which would be mostly for perennial herbs, annual cooking herbs and whatever really. although now squash has taken over the whole area, around and beneath are roses, lavender, mugwort, echinecea, sage, marjoram, spirimint, peppermint, lemon balm, Solomons seal, cilantro, strawberries, goji berry, red clover, chives, comfrey, tree collards and a few others too. It does great so far being on the north side of the house with ample afternoon sun.

Next order of business was pulling the aged plastic mulch off the very large garden space, ick! It is where my full sun veggie garden will be. I am just about to seed it with a nitrogen fixing cover crop and start growing veggies there next year.

To sumarize
.5 make an initial plan
1 animals
2 trees
3 perennials
4 prep for annual veggies
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 782
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Once again on mint: you just don't need as much! (unless you're English)
If you are in the right climate: yacon is dead easy.
I would still start with the veggies, you get something right away and beeing outside you get to know your place better.
A ROUGH plan in the beginning is a good idea (google earth). The plan should be scaled, you get more feeling about the dimensions and what you can do.
 
Blake Wheeler
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
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Personally I'd start with trees. They're 3-5 years away from productive (longer for nut trees) and they give you a scaffolding to build the rest of your guilds around. Develop a general idea of what you want then work largest to smallest. Trees, then shrubs, vegetables, ground cover, etc. nature can provide many of the other smaller elements (ground covers etc) while you place the larger items. The. You can go back and replace it with something you want later. Nothing wrong with starting a veggie garden at the same time to get your feet wet. Plant trees in the fall, let them establish over the winter, and use the time to get an even better idea of where to go. Once the trees are in-ground the majority of the work with them is done, you've got an entire winter and frirst growing season before you really have to worry about pruning.

then you can go in and place shrubs in any open spots. Once this framework is in place you can use the other elements to connect them together into larger guilds. This is the method I've been using. I've got trees and shrubs in place, now next year I'll fill in the spaces between them with the lower growing elements.

Comfrey, Jerusalem artichokes, mint, and nettles are all really easy placenta start as well.

Don't waste time starting comfrey from seed, you'll get a fertile variety that will soon be everywhere unless you stay on top of it and keep it from going to seed. As quick as it grows that will be a handful. There's expensive ways and cheap ways to get comfrey. The expensive way is to buy crowns for each plant you want. The cheaper way is to buy root cuttings, the dirt cheap way is to buy a few crowns, let them grow a season, then use them to get any additional root cuttings you need. The cheaper you go the longer it takes to get useable plants. My plants from two year crowns I planted last November are HUGE. The ones from root cuttings are the size of a medium houseplant and not big enough to be used for mulch yet. A crown will cost around $5 while a root cutting costs spare change.

Sun chokes aren't as expensive as some people here are leading you to believe. I bought a pound of tubers last year for $10 and have plenty of mature plants to show for it. The trick is to cut the tubers up (like potatoes) into smaller chunks before you plant. Planted them last November in well worked soil and threw some lawn clippings and shredded leaves over the bed as mulch. In zone 6, through a very harsh and wet winter, in soil that doesn't drain the best, the sunchokes came up this spring just fine. I don't think I even had any losses. Now this fall I can dig the tubers, try them to see if I even like them, and use the yield to eat and even increase the size of the bed if I want to. $10 for a reliable crop I'll never have to sink another penny into isn't too bad if you ask me.

Can't comment on nettle as I'm seeding mine in next spring.

Be careful with mint. Plant it in a sunken container to keep the roots from spreading. Mint grows aggressively. One or two plants will give you all the mint you'll ever need.

Literally any of the plants you've listed can be grown just about anytime. Comfrey and sunchokes can be planted as long as you can work the soil. Easier way to get mint is to just buy a seedling from the herb section of lowes/Home Depot. Plant it now and it'll have no problem establishing and overwintering.
 
Eric Grenier
Posts: 27
Location: 100 acres in Abitibi, Quebec, Canada zone 2a
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We bought some sorry looking sunchokes too and are doing great even in a pot
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