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How to prep land you won't live on for a year?  RSS feed

 
                                      
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I own a piece of land I have been making plans for and saving money to move to for nearly a decade now. Next spring this dream will come true! I am visiting the land this spring and plan on spending about five days there. It is nearly 3 acres I grew up on, so I am familiar with it and have some land maps. I have also grown my gardening skills, been raising quail for years, and taken permaculture courses as part of my planning, I have drawn up a rough permaculture zone map already. I plan on spending my time there this spring counting and mapping all the trees, measuring areas I plan to use for grow beds, and figuring out slope and planing how I will terrace the steeper parts. If you were in this scenario is there anything else you would do? It is in zone 5b and I will be there some time in May. I would love to be able to plant a few things that would be likely to need no human intervention and thrive on their own. A local gardener suggested I throw in some raspberries and blackberries, saying they would probably thrive on their own since they used to grow wild there when I was younger. There were none growing where they used to last time I was on the land last summer. Any advice welcome! Thanks!
 
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You must be so excited! Congratulations. The hardest thing you will now need to do is to curb your enthusiasm. I keep my basic permacuture principals right in front of me to keep myself in check. (Not that that always works.) Go back to the beginning and...... make the plan, start small-zone one. "If you spread out to fast the project will work you and self correct back to small".
I know many home owners who have said being house poor saved them from mistakes they may have made by not living on their place for a year. I realize you have lived there. Now you can live the season w permaculture eyes. Lawton talks about observation like a meditation. Good luck and God bless.
 
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Location: Northwest Montana from Zone 3a to 4b (multiple properties)
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Excellent advice.

Since you have a basic plan for the property, if I were you, I would look at putting stuff into the outer zones. As Paul always says, do your earthworks first - hugelkultur, swales, terraces and water features. Figure out where they are going to be in your plan and then figure what you are going to put in areas outside of those points.
Maybe figure on some of the "permaculture growie staples" like comfrey, daikon, sunchokes and the like for your quick plantings for this year.
 
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Location: Detroit, MI
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Justice,

To start, I would limit the number of plantings that you attempt this spring. New plantings of just about everything will require some kind of watering more than likely to make them worth your while. I also am in zone 5b, and last spring was a great example of the importance of watering new plantings. We put in about 300 raspberry canes but had limited access to water and a number of other things further up our list to water. When the 90 degree weather and lack of rain that characterized last May came around, the canes were done for, even with the few waterings we were able to get in. Luckily we sourced the canes on site from an existing planting, but our labor was lost. With the way the climate is going, I would recommend against planting anything until you can be on the site to add supplemental water for the first year or two, depending on the plant.

Taking an inventory of the land would be a great place to start. If you are hoping to have an annual garden next year, start prepping that plot by sheet mulching. If you aren't ready to commit to a garden plot yet, you can still mow down and sheet mulch concentrations of perennial weeds like thistle. If you hope to have firewood for next year, that would be a good time to cut and buck a few trees in preparation.

How has the land been used since you grew up on it? This may in part determine the best course of action.
 
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