I have some small land (with 2 tiny houses) in Mallorca in the Mediterranean sea and my dream/plan is to move there and create some permaculture project. Nowadays I am living in a different country so I can only pass by Mallorca 2/3 times a year. When I go I generally bring some friends for a week to help me and to enjoy the time there.
We started by cleaning the houses so we can stay there. We built a very simple dry toilet and starting with some compost pile.
We have also cleaned and fixed a pond that gets some water from a stream. Hoping to have water there after next winter because summers are very dry.
I would like to work on things that can be done in a small period of time and that can become beneficial in 2-4 years. For example I am thinking of planting some trees next October so they can start growing.
There is also some lemon, orange and pomegranade trees and I was thinking about planting some plants around them that could be beneficial.
I would like to ask about more things that we could get going for the future!!
If you're going to do any tree planting, I encourage you to read Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands Volume 2 by Brad Lancaster and/or study his website. http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/ These describe how to make small earthworks by hand to help plants grow and to store water in the soil. If you don't prepare the land to store rain, your trees might die between visits.
I agree with Tyler, the next steps should be in getting the land to hold water. This could include swales and berms, which also create microclimates that gives you some advantages even though you aren't there much.
To know what to 'prepare' you really need to know about your site. Observation and then analysis is the first step in any permaculture endeavour. Then it's all about putting the puzzle together and to make those connections between the elements you want to have. Permaculture is essentially about design - it provides a framework for you to design the space and then begin to implement. Don't rush and start planting and building until you are sure that what you are trying to achieve is the best for you, your family, your property and the environment.
We also have a small (2.5 acres) site near Victoria, BC that I'm puzzling over. Where to start? There's so much to learn. I'm pretty grateful for this website because it feels like many of the answers are here.
I guess water is one of the most important things to design for. We have very dry summers and wet winters, about 40" per year. The land is rectangular, about twice as long as it is wide, with a road on the north-west side. It's slightly bowl shaped with a run out the bottom of the bowl to the north-east. The highest to the lowest elevation is probably not more than 20' with the high spot at the south corner and the low spot about in the middle. At the north corner, there's a high-production well that belongs to the local acreage community, which we are on the edge of. The well water is great but I would prefer not to depend on it for irrigation in the long term.
There is nothing on it at the moment, just grass that gets cut for hay by our neighbor, with a few deer and rabbits and other critters around. And there are two huge fir(?) trees at the east corner. Except for a small area in the south corner, the soil is mostly clay (failed perc tests everywhere else).
I'm trying to determine where the best place is to put a pond. We've mapped one contour line at my best guess of the keypoint (according to my vague idea of keyline design) but it doesn't seem like a good place for a pond, too low, not really any kind of valley, more like a corner. I'd like to map another line at a higher contour and try to collect water from it into a higher pond, for possible irrigation of the bowl. We'd like a small house, a big shop (my husband has a milling machine), a pond, lots of trees, and about half an acre of organic vegetable garden for us and to sell. I'd like to raise a few chickens for eggs and feed them from the site. I really like the idea of hugels - we have two mounds now in our city lot that are growing veggies like crazy at the moment. I can imagine courses of hugels extending all around the property, channeling water from the pond via gates. But that might be a bit optimistic!
Anyway, I know I have lots to learn and am just scratching the surface. I'm looking forward to seeing more about Ross's book, it might be just what I need.
If you have access to significant quantities of bio-mass, I would pile it up and let it begin to decompose. I LOVE wood chips and use them all over in my integrated orchard/food forest. I get about 3 truck loads of them annually, and I would probably use more if I got them at the right time of year.
If there were any way you could get a bunch of free wood chips dumped on your property and then could let them break down for a year or more, that will be mulch that you'll then be able to use all over your property when the time comes. Better yet, if you know where you are going to be planting in the future, speak that biomass thickly on the ground so that the soil life will have a chance to get going.
But I agree with the posts above: you work on your land in the order of greatest permanence. So shaping the land comes before planting. Get your swales and hydrology settled first, and then start planting trees. If you plant trees first, it's very difficult to go back and dig-in your water features.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf