• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
garden masters:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • thomas rubino
  • Bill Crim
  • Kim Goodwin
  • Joylynn Hardesty
gardeners:
  • Amit Enventres
  • Mike Jay
  • Dan Boone

Help me dream! Raw land... best bang for buck initial improvements & preparation? (Low-maintenance)  RSS feed

 
Posts: 78
3
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I know this is a really broad question, but I thought I'd throw it out there to generate some discussion.

Short version - what would you do in the first year or three on 10 acres of raw land, to improve and prepare for some sort of eventual permie-style long-term system?  Eventual meaning NOT looking to move there for a while.  The biggest low-hanging fruit (bang for buck) due to limited time, ability, finance, etc.

Details:

I got 10 acres of a fairly gentle south slope.  It's square and partially wooded, ponderosa pine and maybe a bit of doug-fir,  It seems like it may have been logged a few decades back.  From the little I've seen of wheaton labs on videos etc., I suspect this is fairly similar in general, less wooded though.

Obviously, I have a long-term project here.  Someday I might put a wofati or something else on it.  Maybe personal residence, maybe not; certainly at least a getaway / cabin / hunting lodge of some sort. 

I dream of having a pond large enough to swim and play in (besides all the other usual pondy stuff, of course). 

I am quite attracted by food forest concepts and would love to install some kind of long-term, mostly self-sustaining food crop system. 

I don't have experience with animals but could see myself going there one day.  Plus I realize they're an integral part of "natural" cycles, etc.  There are a lot of deer in the area, probably elk too, and likely predators (cougars, maybe coyotes?).

I could see maybe keeping a small part in timber production, or something related like pollarding?  At least for fuel, for market is lesser priority.  And I know that a "wild" section is usual in permaculture, and I might....but it's almost next to a large state park with plenty of that.

This is ~45 minutes away from home so I won't be able to visit a whole lot at present (what with work, etc.).  No utilities.  In fact, no access per se yet either (my first project).  Something like 25" of rain per year, zone 6ish.  The generic area soil survey indicated it would make decent farmland, loess soils, high water table, perhaps 15/10/75 clay/sand/silt, 5% organic matter.  (I have yet to verify any of that for my specific parcel.)

Given those kinds of conditions and fuzzy possible goals...... What would you do in, say, the first year?

The things I've thought of so far, feel free to add, subtract, multiply, divide, derive, integrate, correct, suggest, argue, etc:

  • Seed balls / bombs of various sorts -  but what??

  • Cover crops?
    Wildflower?
    Perennial or self-seeding veggies, e.g. my radishes and kale and carrots have happily reproduced themselves with little effort on my part in the garden (although I did add water)
    For that matter, my raspberries have been quite happy to reproduce.....hmm, I'll have to take some down there and let 'em loose


    Start planting trees!
    -What kind though?  Nuts?  Fruits?

    Keep reading, learning what's possible, etc!
    Work towards firming up some goals and desired end states.

    In general....improve soils?

    Let me know what you think!
    TIA!!!


     
    C Jones
    Posts: 78
    3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    And for bonus points, what two or three books / classes / online dealios / etc would you most recommend for my situation?  I am realizing how much more I have to learn.........
     
    Mother Tree
    Posts: 10518
    Location: Portugal
    1220
    bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar tiny house wofati
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Have you seen the kickstarter Paul is running at the moment for live streaming and downloading of 200 hours of video from the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course?

    There's a thread about it here

    And the kickstarter itself is here.

    I think that should provide about the best possible online dealio imaginable!

     
    Posts: 197
    10
    • Likes 3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    My advise, Spend as much time as you can on your property just looking at things. Not just the areas you plan to use,all of it. And do it in all weather and seasons. Im not sure where you are but, Some properties reveal "surprises" at certain times of the year  some good,some bad. I found this out the hard way with 60 acres I had at one point in my existence.  and yes getting fruit and nut trees started,on site or using the bucket method would be good. This is one of my next projects. What kind? folks here will tell you...Larry
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 1606
    113
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Given the low 25" of rainfall, that would be my first concern. Getting that water to soak in verses  running down the slope.

    In my area, with 36" of rain and 100 degree summer days, a tree needs care for 3 years before it can take care of itself.

    If you're not there weekly, you have to solve that issue before trees go in.
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 534
    Location: Pac Northwest
    55
    chicken forest garden homestead solar trees wofati
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Since your looking at long term, not living there yet stuff. My big suggestions would be:

    Earth works

    Tree planting

    fencing (if needed) and other infrastructure

    Earthworks would be where you would likely want to start. Creating swales and berms, to capture water slowing it and directing it. Then start planting trees into your swales to take advantage of the water.

    This would be the biggest bang for buck/effort I think.

    Other things you might consider is general infrastructure. Like fencing, or irrigation lines for gardens, power lines for your eventual home, septic system, etc. These sorts of things you might want to chip away at adding them in so when you are ready to live there you have the necessary elements to do it well.

    I do also agree with the comment, of taking your time and observing. Too often we don't have the ability to take the time to observe the property. So if you aren't moving to it directly, and have time to take, then spending a year to observe the changes in the land, to watch the solar path change through seasons, see how the water flows during a rain storm, what sort of snow cover it gets, what sort of life lives there (and where it lives and moves through), etc... This can all be very important stuff that really can tell you a lot abut your property.

    Most of us however tend to not have the ability to just wait and watch as much as we would like. So if you have the opportunity I would suggest you spend some time observing the natural cycles of your place.

     
    C Jones
    Posts: 78
    3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Thanks so much, folks!  So many good points.

    Burra - the kickstarter is on my "maybe" list - I know it's a great deal - it's just a great deal of info.....I already have an overwhelming amount of info ... learning this stuff is a long-term project, too, I suppose.  And, come to think of it, a PDC would likely be a more organized, formal, formatted, systematized way of learning the basics.  You or I may just talk me into it....

    Observation came up a couple of times....that's definitely high on my list.  I've spent a while on Google Earth, looking at the lay of the land, vegetation cover, neighboring hills, playing with the solar simulator.  No substitute for being there though, and I was already planning some field trips with notebooks, solar survey graphs, etc.

    I've also been thinking of putting up some kind of 'webcam' (only probably without the web part) or trail / game camera - to be able observe more than just while I'm there.  Has anyone here done that or know of ways / products etc?  There are pretty cheap ($ and doubtless in quality) options out there now, so I could see maybe even putting up a few.

    earthworks first.....seems like I've heard that before!  Don't know why I didn't think of it....  Well, maybe because I feel totally unequipped to know where to put what.  Some ideas, but I need more understanding, then the hard work of a plan.  Same thing with other infrastructure.... but I think I see your point, they go in before I do (permanently).  I am getting the Natural Ponds book that was just featured on here (won the drawing, actually!).

    Wayne - your point about getting trees established has been my biggest help so far, I think!  Just shows how much of a newb I am, that I hadn't thought of that.  I just planted my first apple tree (storebought) a couple of weeks ago.  It's been so rainy this spring that I haven't had to water much, but I will have to go check the instructions some more because it's supposed to finally be getting sunny and warm.  Hmm, but how do wild trees get established without help....I need to keep studying.....like what trees would do well with minimal help.

    Soaking in won't be much of an issue, I think, with my soil type...but then staying in the soil might be.  "Ashy silt loam" down to 10 inches, then "silt loam" to 30, "silty clay loam" below that.  "Low available water storage".  Again, that's the generic survey info in my area, tbd exact on-site.  14" to 20" to water table, though.....(I am working on finding out what all of this means in a practical sense).

    Now one more question - cover crops.....how to find out what is good for my area?  e.g. perennial grasses etc?? for wild or domestic animals.  Local farmers, for one, of course, (but how to tell the difference between "conventional" and "have actually thought deeply about it" / more long-term-thinking.  Ask them a bunch of questions....)  ... observe what grows by itself around here

    (maybe some of my specific questions would be better in dedicated threads...)

    Thanks again everyone!  Not only does putting it down out of my brain help me clarify, it's great to have knowledgeable, helpful folks to bounce ideas off of .

     
    Posts: 176
    Location: Alberta, zone 3
    2
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator

    Devin Lavign wrote:

    Earthworks would be where you would likely want to start. Creating swales and berms, to capture water slowing it and directing it. Then start planting trees into your swales to take advantage of the water.



    Nice in theory but also the most expense part. We just bought a farm last year and we won't do earthworks for a while. I know it makes logical sense to start there but it's a massive expense that's just not happening anytime soon.
     
    Posts: 12
    Location: Denver CO
    2
    cat hugelkultur urban
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    In addition to at least some starting swales I'd suggest starting to gather and plant as many fruit, nut, berry seeds as possible. With your open time line take advantage of as many free plants as possible. I'd plant hundreds of apple seeds for example. black locust too, if you can find a tree with seed pods to collect. If you haven't check out the landrace gardening threads, you could start developing seeds that survive on your property with mostly neglect. Basically as many free or cheap seeds as you can find even if germination rate is low whatever manages to get a toe hold should be very resilient.
     
    Posts: 45
    1
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Great idea to get to know the land very well. Where does the sun hit first thing during winter solstice? Are there any areas that are in full shade all the time? Or full shade just in winter? Etc. Then create several copies of a basic map of the place, noting areas of dryness, wetness, different soils, sun and shade situations, current plants growing. Finally, do learn that self-sustaining food forest concept that attracts you and fill in the general map with a big picture plan (you made several copies so you can change your mind somewhat during the planning stage) -- emphasizing food plants that would be self-sustaining in your area.

    Once there's a map with an overall food forest plan, you can fill in whatever areas you're able to over the years. Got extra raspberries right now? Where do they fit in on the map... go place them there next time you visit. Got time this weekend to plant some soil building cover crops? You already know where you plan an open sunny spot where you want to improve the soil for a future annual garden, so go do that this weekend. Found a source of wildflower seeds native to your area? You already know where you plan to leave an open meadow for wildlife and pollinators -- so go straight to that area and plant them. Does your map include a sustainable woodlot? Now you know which type of trees to add, where to add them, and what type of maintenance the current woodlands call for.

    Take advantage of any free plants that could fit into your plan, looking over the map to see where they might best fit in. With an overall map, you can still be flexible with it (especially if a new, free resource appears that you want to add in), but you pretty much always know where you stand, little by little, as time and resources permit, you're creating something that is self-sustaining. Your food forest education will be very valuable. If you choose apples, for example, you'll learn which ones are low maintenance. Apple orchards can be high maintenance -- which is fine for those planning to work an orchard full time -- but possibly not in your case. So find trees that grow within your area's rainfall that pretty much take care of themselves. Then learn what, if ever needed, could be made from that variety of apple, and leave the products made from high maintenance apples to full time orchardists.
     
    C Jones
    Posts: 78
    3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Thanks so much for all the great thoughts and info! I've still been chewing on this in the background and will probably post more of an update… But I just wanted to put a little bit  thanks so much for all the great thoughts and info! I've still been chewing on this in the background and will probably post more of an update… But I just wanted to put a little bit  more out right now.

    The idea of going out there with a bunch of seeds etc. has really captivated me… I just need to become "the man the planted trees" on my property, like the guy in that video!  A local friend gave me a bunch of filberts, I've been saving some apple seeds and have a few black walnuts from my tree last year. Then I grabbed some acorns and sprouts from another one nearby that was cut down recently…

    Then I'm also  thinking about some other perennials or things that can go wild, as already  mentioned. Or some extra starts from my garden. Potatoes too,  maybe sunchokes, raspberries etc etc etc. Maybe some clover? Wheat?? I'm going to experiment! I'm really getting excited!

    Plus I got permission from the neighbor , So I am planning a trip out in the next few days.

    My biggest thing about it right now is the weather and my general unfamiliarity with planting and transplanting… I have a little more research to do. We've had some really hot days lately, it's a little better now  but it's supposed to be 90 at least one day next week, and only maybe a little bit of rain. So I'm thinking I might be beyond my optimal transplanting time?

    The nuts and seeds I'm not too concerned about because they're cheap and easy,  but my precious little starts that I've dug or paid for, I don't want to lose them. Plus then there's the deer, I'm sure they would love to munch on at least certain things. Not to mention other wildlife... More to read up on!  I do remember someone's apple tree guild on here, a video where they showed a successful planting including some other things that seem to be keeping animals away…
     
    C Jones
    Posts: 78
    3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    While I'm at it, as far as getting to know the land, I'm getting some plans together for that. I also started drafting a post on that topic, with tools that I've come up with and  solicitation for more ideas… I'll link that in whenever I get it up.

    And… I'm really kicking myself for not getting in on the online video of the PDC. Are there any plans for making that available later, or a second chance of some sort? It is just such a big thing that I hesitated and couldn't decide, but that was such a stupendous  deal that I wished I hadn't passed it up. The nice thing about digital content is I could do it at my own pace even if it takes a couple years…
     
    Posts: 12
    Location: Clifton, Texas
    • Likes 3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    When I bought my 6 acres, the very first thing I did was build an outhouse. I actually built the walls in town, and assembled it on-site.

    I *then* built an 8' x 8' shed. Because, you will get REALLY sick of hauling all of your stuff back and forth, back and forth.... A place to keep shovels, tree branch loppers, machete, claw hammer, cheap $40 chainsaw, small camp stove, etc. etc.

    If you are smart, on the back wall you'll make a fold down bunk that can hold a twin size air mattress.
     
    Posts: 41
    1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I just watched John Kohler, Growing your Greens, do a You Tube video about a new farm in south Florida; Annette, at Planet Claire farmacy, and how she took raw land, and began her food forest and market type garden, with improvements and adjustments in the three years, it was impressive. Happy planting
     
    C Jones
    Posts: 78
    3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Lincoln - I like your ideas.  They go right along with what I was thinking, only yours might be better.  It is a lot of work to prep for a camping trip, pack up, unpack, set up camp, then tear down, air out, clean up, pack back up, etc. 

    I was thinking of ways to get a little pickup and camper shell or trailer.  But definitely putting up an outhouse and tool shed / bunkhouse make sense too....hmmmm.

    Beth - thanks, maybe I will look them up for inspiration etc.
     
    Why does your bag say "bombs"? The reason I ask is that my bag says "tiny ads" and it has stuff like this:
    DIY solar dehydrator - have you built one?
    https://permies.com/t/90672/DIY-solar-dehydrator-built
    • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
    • New Topic
    Boost this thread!