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Information Overload - Need direction please  RSS feed

 
Brian Gothard
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Hello all.  I need some focus.  Forgive the lengthy post, but I will appreciate any advice offered.

I have read hundreds of posts, articles, websites, and I just want to plant some things immediately, but the sheer volume of information is overwhelming.  I understand the overall concepts of guilds, food forests, etc., and I am fully on board, but I have obstacles.

I am RENTING a property in southwestern Mississippi about 40 miles from the coast.  I have only been here two months.  I have the permission of the owner to install garden beds, and will be building several raised boxes, but I want to also leave it better than I found it when I move in a couple years.

The property is about an acre.  The back yard is about two thirds of that.  It is all lawn, with a few trees scattered around, but the bulk is open grass.  The rear property line is about ten feet inside a forest that goes several miles.  The wood line is overgrown vines and small brush that I have not identified.

Soil:  I installed one 4x8 bed over a bare spot.  I tilled about a foot deep with a shovel before adding my actual bedding fill on top of it.  The soil is very sandy.  It is white about a half inch, black about six inches, then turns reddish another six.  I can shape it into a ball, but it is still crumbly and dries fast.  In super heavy rain, the whole yard pools a quarter inch or so, then drains in less than an hour.  I have not determined anything else about water movement.

My basic idea is to start at the edge of the existing forest.  Maybe clear some brush and replace it.  Clear the existing companions around a tree or two and put in edibles. I want it to last after I leave, but I would like to see some benefit this year.  I want to use this to learn hands on.

I need suggestions on what to plant.  There is just too much information out there, and researching/obtaining some of the plants on various lists is a whole separate project.  I will keep researching, but I am hoping for quick wins.  If anyone knows the area/soil I am describing, your input will be most appreciated.

I added a satellite view for orientation reference.
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Satellite view
 
David Livingston
master steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Couple of questions . How long are you planning ( or how long is your LL planning ) to live there ? What are your long term plans
I would firstly do things cheap as I do and also so you aquire skills that you can use later .
So things like hardwood cuttings - quince blackcurrent etc  , grafting things like apples plums pears .
I would ...er ...find stuff to plant* , make friends swap cuttings learn to propagate stuff .
Use the garden as a test bed for later .
I rent too my LL is estatic I have improved the property added 50+ fruit trees at no cost to him and a little to me . I expect to be here for at least another ten years . I am making lots of new freinds I give away fruit and nuts and they give me stuff too .

David

* its amazing stuff you can find wild , sale bins at garden centers , abandoned property or stuff people just give you if you ask nicely or swap for other stuff .
.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3161
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
255
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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David gave some great ideas.
I will give some expansion and specifics that might be helpful.


The property is about an acre.  The back yard is about two thirds of that.  It is all lawn, with a few trees scattered around, but the bulk is open grass.  The rear property line is about ten feet inside a forest that goes several miles.  The wood line is overgrown vines and small brush that I have not identified.


The aerial view looks great, I would first make a drawing on graph paper so you can know the scale of your drawing, it will make the layout tons easier. I like to use cut outs to represent garden beds because you can move these around until you like the layout. Start small and build as you get confidence.

Soil:  I installed one 4x8 bed over a bare spot.  I tilled about a foot deep with a shovel before adding my actual bedding fill on top of it.  The soil is very sandy.  It is white about a half inch, black about six inches, then turns reddish another six.  I can shape it into a ball, but it is still crumbly and dries fast.  In super heavy rain, the whole yard pools a quarter inch or so, then drains in less than an hour.  I have not determined anything else about water movement. 


South Mississippi is great, you have sandy topping over topsoil over "Red Clay", this tends to pool prior to draining as you mention. What happens is that the clay subsoil acts first as a barrier to water inclusion then, as the clay starts to adsorb, it takes in the water and holds it for a fair amount of time. This helps for deeper rooting plants, since they tap into that clay bound water and can survive the hot dry summers. Building raised beds is a very good idea and will work extremely well in this area.

As for plants to start with; plant what you like to eat the most first or start with fruit bearing trees which will usually produce their second year in the ground. 
We started our first vegetable plot first then in the same year we started planting the fruit trees, in our case the first to go in was pears then plums then figs and mulberries then apples  then grapes, this year we will add several blue berries and service berries as well.
We buy older fruit trees so that they will produce a fair crop their second year in the ground.
Every year we add at least two new vegetable garden beds and at least 4 fruit trees.
This year I am also going to build an onion bed and a garlic bed, we use a lot of these so we need to plant enough to last us through to the next harvest. 
Our plan allows us to have food and build towards the ability to not have to use grocery store vegetables much at all.
Eventually we will not be spending money for vegetables and fruit.
Oh, to do this for vegetables (year round) will take up around 3/4 to 1.5 acres. That will give the two of us enough fresh, fresh stored and canned foods for one full year of provisions.

Learn to walk before you try to run is a true saying, it keeps you from doing face plants.

Redhawk
 
Brian Gothard
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Thank you very much for the input.

We will be here this year and possibly one more.  We chose this place to get out of the urban area specifically to practice skills while we are looking for our homestead.  Our goal is healthy food, short and simple.  I realize that takes time, but I don't have three years here to build soil and there is not enough readily available greenery to even start a good compost pile.  I will have to grow my own.  That wood line is mostly dead woody vines.  It will help next year, but not this one.  Probably going to just make a hugelkulture mound back there.

We are good at raised bed gardening for annuals, but our experience was in the Birmingham, Alabama area.  Totally different soil and climate.  I even built a gray water irrigation system there.  We had more tomatoes from 6 plants than we could give away.  Same with the squash and kohlrabi. That, however, was in year 4.

We have a couple layer hens free ranging, and will have rabbits when I can get a hutch built, so I hope to get at least some manure help.  No plans for any other stock here, but dairy goats are a future plan.

We moved to the coast, and spent 3 years in apartments.  I discovered the permaculture concept a year or so ago and have been reading and watching YouTube ever since.  That is where I need the advice.  I have several guild plans from various sources, but fully half of the plants are not native to this area and are not easily sourced.  Buying European or Australian plants at $8 each off the Internet is not in the plan, and without extensive research, I don't know the local equivalent.  I understand companion planting, but all my experience is in annuals.

What I was hoping for was someone to shortcut my research.  Share a guild plan for my area.  I am not too lazy to do the research, and will continue.  I want to learn.

Thank you again for your advice, and I will implement your suggestions.


 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3161
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
255
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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If you are only planning on being in this location for two years, using the three sisters method of planting would be fast, give you good yields and be quick to put in.
For permaculture to take hold you need to be in a more permanent setting so you will be around to observe what is working and what needs to change.

Most of the Guilds I've seen have been in place for 5 or more years and yield very well. But again two years then moving to your own land, might make that not such a good idea.

This is our fourth year on our land and we build every year but I'm 65 and my wife is recovering from cancer so things go a bit slower for us right now.

In a short term situation such as you have described I would work more on container plants than in the ground ones, that way when you find your special plot of the earth mother you can move your bushes and trees with you.

Redhawk
 
Brian Gothard
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I agree, Redhawk, with all your observations.  I am putting in 4 raised beds at 4x8, mainly to make mowing the rest easier.  Take out the screws and the boards go with me.  That will be the bulk of our food production.  We have some other stuff like blackberries and blueberries in big ornamental pots.

I will just wing it at the tree line.  Clear the dead brush and throw out a few of every seed I have and see what takes.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3161
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
255
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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Brian,

This is also a great opportunity to practice designing.  Use Google earth to make some prints of the land then you can lay out ideas for what goes where, observe rain water flow and how to best handle it, tree placements, etc.
You can also get or draw the topographical lines for the parcel on a few prints for the water management designs you want to look at.
Being on this parcel can be a huge learning experience which will be so valuable when you find that hunk of earth you want to live on forever.

Redhawk
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 1058
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Instead of reading too much simply start a veggie garden! Plant what you like eating and plant a bit of everything. Don't forget to grow loads of potatoes and squash.
Reading does not replace experiment. simply buy some seeds and get out. On a rented property I would just do that. No fruit trees it's a waste of time and energy. Once they start fruiting you are out. Grow vegetables and get good at it. Grow staples (annuals) and get good at it.
You could get some huge pots (ftom the tip) and plant some fruit in them.
 
David Good
gardener
Posts: 522
Location: Equatorial tropics
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Yes, I agree with others here: just plant some good short crops.

You don't even need to build raised beds. Just dig beds and make them mounded, then hoe in between with a hula hoe.

Three sisters is a great idea. And think beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, grain corn (Hickory King is GREAT in your area), winter squash, collards. Yard-long beans are one of my favorites.

Don't go too big or think too much. Take a small area, double-dig it, make some compost, grow some vegetables and don't spread your effort over a huge area. Learn to grow well in a smaller space then expand.

You'll do great. Get digging!
 
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