I finally did it! I found an area with reasonable land prices (no jobs available) that I can use to start growing fruittrees and vegetables. It is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from my current location at the beach in Jacksonville which makes it bearable to travel. I'm planning to build a shed and get some rainwater collection going before the tropical storm season hits. This should set me up for growing this winter, which is my best growing season.
The property is off of a dirt road and roughly 1 acre in size. It has a good amount of elevation change for Florida (in excess of 20 feet, not sure exactly how much) that should be great for running drip irrigation. I plan on removing some standing dead trees and making some hugelkultur mounds, and starting them off with a bit of drip irrigation in the dry (winter) season. I have some fruit trees (mulberry, fig, pomegranate, loquat seedlings, a Key lime) as well as a bunch of native trees I can bring down there. The road is to the North and has a slight drop off from the road before going uphill to the south. I plan on leaving most of the trees at the top of the hill alone, and building a shed and cistern up there. Even though it is a wooded lot, there is plenty of room between the trees to build some work spaces without cutting down anything bigger than my arm.
I have a few projects planned for this year, although I probably won't be there much or at all this summer. I definitely want to spread some seed mix to get random edible growies going. I figure since I have a ton of sweet potatos escaped from my garden that they should do pretty well there. I have bought some cheap 15-16 bean soup mixes that are also doing well in my garden, so those should be particularly helpful in getting some hugel mounds growing. An outdoor kitchen is critically important. Cooking inside a house in the evening in Florida most days of the year creates a very uncomfortable atmosphere. I might even do a tiny house on wheels in the future since it is legal to live in a trailer/camper/RV there. I could probably do everything by the book as far as a well and septic and just pay for one thing at a time when I can afford it.
I spent the night camping there this past weekend and it wasn't a lot of fun. I set up camp at the back of the property on top of the hill and learned someone has a dog kennel. Drunk people antagonizing the creatures had them howling all night, and then a rooster in the distance got them howling throughout the early morning hours. Later I noticed the sound was much quieter at the bottom of the hill, so I will have to relocate my camp there. It was also loaded with ticks. I need to clean up some areas and find some permie solutions to the tick issue.
I can build sheds under 120 sq.ft. without a permit, so I am planning to do one 6'x16' to start. This will give me plenty of storage space and I can camp there on occasion when I need to get work done. I can also put on a gutter to collect rainwater. The land is really close to some great fishing, so I can also head down there and get all kinds of fresh and salt water food within a few miles. I have even kicked around the idea of building a small cabin to rent out for people travelling to the area to fish. I could set aside an area for a cabin and parking and use the rest of the land for growing food. Lots of possibilities!
My camera is old and horrible, so I didn't get many good pictures. It's just woods with mostly live oaks and some long leaf pines, hardly any of the other tree species are of substantial size. I do intend on planting specimen trees of every type of native tree I can get my hands on. Right now it looks like this:
You didn't write in which county you land is. For Duval county, I found map viewer; if you zoom in close enough, filter in the lower right lets you show contour lines, which will help figure out elevation and its gradient.
Curious why you chose 6x16 for shed dimensions.
...take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk
It's in Putnam county. I plan on doing some swales toward the middle of the property and hugel berms lower down towards the road, and I will have to measure all of these things out anyway. It's only 1 acre, so it should be pretty easy to do with mostly hand tools.
Right now my main goals are to get a shed built so I can store some tools out there,buy/make a cistern, and use the shed roof run-off for rainwater collection. Unfortunately it will be a bit difficult getting started doing this by myself, especially since staying overnight isn't much of an option with the tick infestation. Once I can get a better camp site established and mitigate the tick problem I will be able to get more done. With the oppressive summer looming I don't plan on getting a lot of work done until mid fall or later.
I chose 6'x16' because it is well below the 120 sq. ft. limit. With the possibility of hurricanes and certainty of strong tropical storms, I like the idea of my rafters not being any longer than necessary. Also, a long thin building has more perimeter than a roughly square building of equal area. Most people would build a shed 10'x12', but that doesn't really suit me. My current shed where I live now has two rooms to it, one 9'x8' and the other 9'x10'. I find there is wasted space in the center of the rooms. Ideally I would have long thin corridors lined with shelves like a warehouse. I plan on having a door at one end so I can store long pieces of lumber and get them in and out easily. Cost is also a factor.
I might set up a pole structure that is roughly square for my outdoor kitchen, and another one to keep sun and rain off of my saw horses. Not having walls means the further the center is from the edges the better your protection from getting wet. We get quite a lot of rain here (about 5'), so that will be an important factor for those areas. I have worked doing framing and hurricane tie-down, so I am capable of building a solid hip roof and strapping it to the foundation to minimize wind related issues. I'm hoping stuffing those structures downhill a fair amount will reduce the amount of strong wind gusts those roofs will have to endure.
I intend to get more solar panels this winter. I'm hoping to slap together a small generator next week which will be good for getting me started out there as well as an emergency power source in the future. I plan on clearing out some space in the center to allow enough light for my solar panels and garden. I will try to remember to take pictures of all of the stuff I am making so I can post it here.