Let me start out by saying that I'm very new to the idea of permaculture but love its elegance and implications. I've picked up Gaia's Garden and started to digest it, but that's about the extent of my experience with the topic. I'm also going through the NC State online permaculture course bit by bit.
I'm looking to put in a hedgerow at my place upstate to provide:
[li]Food - A little for myself and a majority for the small animals/bugs in the area[/li]
[li]Privacy - From the dirt road that runs along my land, hopefully cutting down on the dust that is kicked up and into my field[/li]
[li]Shelter - For small animals and insects[/li]
[li]Fence - To keep big animals in/out depending on what I do with the land in the long run[/li]
[li]Learning - A hands-on project to learn about permaculture practices and techniques[/li]
I have 8 acres in the northern Catskills in New York State (zone 4). It's a long, narrow property on top of a hill (2,500 foot elevation) in the middle of a 10,000 acre managed pine forest. Trees on my land include some of the only old growth in the area (birch, maple, crab-apple, pine, oak, etc). The main dirt access road for the forest runs east-west along the south side of the property. The dirt is very shallow (2-3 feet, less in places) and is comprised of clay, sand, rocks (the only real viable crop I'm told), and some loam. It drains fairly well as long as it isn't compacted but is a real PITA to dig in. The road has been widened on both sides, which involved bulldozing over my 100 year old stone wall that ran the length of the property... This resulted in a large mound of rocks with minimal dirt in it.The area where the hedgerow would be is full sun and just north of that pile 'o rocks. Salt is not used on the road in the winter. Total length of the hedgerow would be around 500 yards.
I'd like to plant raspberries closest to the road as they are hearty, delicious, need full sun, and grow everywhere on the hill already. The hedge itself, I'm thinking, would be comprised of alternating hazelnuts, honey locust, and pyracantha (Fire Thorn). On the shady side of the hedge, I'd like to plant gooseberries. The hedge will be "laid" and kept to around 5' high. Other plants I've thought of, but am not sure about for my climate/design are Wolfberry (gogi), Ironwood, Hawthorn, Osage Orange, and Ash.
I have no idea what to use as a nitrogen fixer in this climate and realize there are probably dozens of other holes/oversights in this preliminary design. I realized I'd better seek guidance from those more experienced than myself. So here I am.
Any thoughts/ideas/comments/advice? Any suggestions as to where to get good quality, inexpensive plants in quantity? Thanks in advance!
I'm a little confused on why you want the hedge to be only 5 feet tall. It's effect would be very limited on the down wind side. Have a couple other comments but as far as inexpensive places to purchase you need to find someone that will sell to you wholesale if you are going to jump in and do 500 yards. Two places I would recommend to start your search are cold stream farms, which sells wholesale to anyone, and tnnursery.net who is a little bit more picky on the wholesale thingy. Both have alot of what you are looking at. Cold Stream tends to run out early of their larger varieties.
Hrmm... Honestly the reason I was settling on the 5' thing was because that is a "traditional" hedgerow height... Now that I'm thinking about it, the only real reason for a lower hedge is not to shade the field to the north too heavily and to keep the hedge dense for an animal fence. I suppose going up to 10-12 feet wouldn't be a bad thing at all and would even make harvesting some of the food a little easier. Thanks for the ideas and links, I'm checking out the nurseries now.
500 yards is certainly a lot, I may start with 200 this year, but if I can get enough friends together to help I'd still like to try for the whole thing. There are a few places where entrances and existing trees would be left, but I'd say it's still around 400 yards total.
however..i started by growing a bunch of different evergreens, and they grew fast and really worked well to screen the road (see my blog)
one new thing I have found that would work for a wonderful temp privacy screen though is jerusalem artichokes..one year i put in 5 and got hundreds..then moved them into rows and got these great walls of green that you couldn't see through ..how wonderful for privacy while you wait for those trees to grow ..just read that you can plant groundnuts to grow up through them too and dig both for food in the fall/winter.
another thing that works well for instant privacy is to use the 4x8' lattice wood panels and put them between posts and 2x4's top and bottom, treated..and then grow vines up and over and put your trees in front of and in back of these lattice screens (see my blog)..i have had mine up for about 30 years and love them..they do require a little maintainence when the trees grow through and break out some lattices, but otherwise they are just plain wonderful