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I've got a bulldozer for a day - what to do in future food forest?  RSS feed

 
Jonathan D Davis
Posts: 11
Location: Aguanga, California
forest garden
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So I am being forced to grade the 1/3 of an acre that will soon become part of my food forest. I have been growing vegetables and cover crops on the site trying to rapidly build soil for the past three years. We live at 3500 feet in arid Southern California so building soil organic matter and capturing/preserving water are primary concerns. The site is currently a six-percent grade with south-facing aspect.

About six weeks ago we received a nice letter in the mail from code enforcement essentially telling us that we cannot live on our land if we don't have a house. We always planned to build a house with all of the required permits but were hoping to delay for another few years. Unfortunately, our county has planes and helicopters and a need to collect fees. So we are proceeding with the house construction this summer.

We require large volumes of soil to serve as fill to grade the homesite. We did not foresee this need and do not have anywhere to remove soil from except my current garden/future food forest. I do not love the idea of heavy machinery in my garden but it seems necessary. So we will scrape the topsoil into a massive mountain and then proceed to grade my garden and excavate to provide fill for the house. There is an upside to this aside from a reasonably level orchard - the bulldozer is capable of ripping the soil to a depth of three feet after removing the fill material.

My question is: Aside from leveling and ripping/subsoiling, are there things that we can do with the bulldozer to improve our future food forest?
We will be paying by the hour so extensive operations are out of the question but I do not want to regret that I didn't invest two or three hours of dozer work for a massive improvement in productivity.

Are there other quick things that you would do with a dozer on your property if you had access to the machinery?

 
Brian L. Cooper
Posts: 22
Location: Western Mass
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Am I correct in presuming that the third of an acre mentioned is a part of a larger piece of property?
 
Jonathan D Davis
Posts: 11
Location: Aguanga, California
forest garden
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Brian L. Cooper wrote:Am I correct in presuming that the third of an acre mentioned is a part of a larger piece of property?


Yes, this is part of a 20 acre property but we have set approximately 50 percent aside for conservation. The food forest that this 1/3 acre piece will be a part of is approximately 2.5 acres. 1 acre of this was established two years ago.
 
Marco Banks
Posts: 534
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Swales and other earthworks!

Can you terrace some of those 20 acres for future use?  If you're not familiar with Sepp Holtzer, Youtube him and look at the way he's shaped his land with flat terraces along his steep mountainside. 

Think about how you are going to catch rainwater off your roof in the future, and how you can run grey water from your sinks and showers.  If there is a possibility to create a catchment system for that water now, you can use that dozer to shape the land accordingly.
 
Tom Worley
Posts: 9
Location: Ozark Border
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You may look into terracing the food-producing component of the property, it'll help retain water and increase productivity while moderating runoff for downstream water users. 
 
Darrell Frey
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Yes, make use of the machine to set up water management with swales and terraces as needed. Plan to direct runoff from house for best use in landscaping.
 
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