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How to start an acre PC property  RSS feed

 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Hi Permies, I'm so glad to find you!

I bought recently 1 acre pasture in mountains in Croatia, climate and surrounding nature is similar to Holzer's Krameterhof, but more flat and lower altitude. Anyway, it's cold and moist area, even in summer time.

1/4 of it is separated by local road, I decided already this should be a forest garden, and this spring I'm planting first plants. Second 1/4 acre is a steep slope (going downhill), covered with wild plants, I need to clear it at least a little bit to see what I have here, there might be some wild hazels, maybe something else eatable, and the rest might be cleared and used when I start building a fence or something else. Eventually this might get some small terraces, or I might continue to use it for biomass.

The best part is not big at all, a 1/2 acre almost flat grassland, little bit sloped to the east. I guess I need some general plan for this, and I only know I don't have much space to be wasted. So far I've been investigating only food forests, don't know much about permaculture in general. I have some ideas what I need or what I want to have, but I believe I should start reading some things. Including this forum, of course. And yes, it might be important, I will use this as a weekend site for my family, we are not moving here for now.

1. Please, recommend some literature that covers all aspects of PK that I should consider, keeping on mind my situation. I don't mind to read a lot, but some of the books might be better for backyards, or for huge properties or tropics.

2. PK is about using resources, right? Well I have a road in the middle of my property, I believe I could use it as thermal mass and as a sun reflector, creating a small but warm micro climate pocket?

3. Holzer is doing so much to create a warm pockets, I believe he has reasons. But , I can't find my own reasons to do it. I can grow frost resistant fruits, I don't need tender ones, so creating a heat spot could only be a side effect of some other purpose landscape mod. Am I missing something, is there a good reason to spend a little more money and time and alter the landscape to support tender fruits, or it is just a matter of personal preferences?

4. I would like to have a pond. I don't know why, maybe because it creates so great natural diversity. Is there a good way to create a water habitat, and not loosing too much of space in the property? I guess it has to be multipurpose detail of my PK, like many other things. So maybe growing something eatable in it gives more practical use. Maybe growing reed for malching material, or using sun reflecting surface to heat a house? Any source of knowledge for building and using ponds?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Congratulations on your land.

My suggestion at this point is to refrain from clearing the wild portion.  It is such a wonderful resource to have a wild area to study.  Try to get in there and see what you have without disturbing it.

There are a lot of edible plants that will grow in a pond or bog area, even a small area can produce a lot of food.

Edible pond and bog plants:  http://www.pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=79

 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Ludi wrote:

Edible pond and bog plants:  http://www.pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=79



Wow, thanks.
 
maikeru sumi-e
Posts: 313
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I agree, I think the wild area is very useful. It'll also hold native pollinators, predators, and genetic diversity or plants you may find valuable for medicine, crafts, etc. besides edibles. Work with it.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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well your last note first..the pond

you say your property slopes slighty to the east..so I would place the pond on the very farthest east end of the property with the house on the west side (that is how ours is see my blog)..

use roof drainage and possibly some french drain from water collection and gutters to keep the pond filled..and although you are donig forest gardens you may need some sun lovers..so put them between the house and the pond with irrigation going through them as needed from the roof drain pond fill courses.

your  climate is similar to mine so you might put your more tender trees on the west edges and north edges of your pond to get light reflection and heat transfer from the water..peaches and apricots and cherries are especially helped by this situation.

put your more shady crops into your woodsy areas and use your sloped land for those crops that do better on a slope..such as grapes, apples, pears and nut trees.

one acre won't allow for a lot of LARGE trees so for a lot of variety go with dwarfs or even super dwarfs of thihngs you really really like to eat..use some good nitrogen fixers and dynamic accumulators near your trees and here and there in your garden and you can use your ponds for crops too..

i suggest reading Gaia's GArden by Toby  Hemenway, Perennial Vegetables by ERic Toensmeier, Plants for a Future by Ken Fern, and Sepp has his new book out in English translation if you haven't read it, in March.
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Thanks a lot for instructions, I enjoyed the photos and will take more time to read your blog.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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You need to preserve a zone 5.  The untouched area that you wander through to observe and learn how everything in your environment works.  That is the key to make the other 4 zones work at optimum potential.

Sretno
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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General site plan.

Below you will see a photo of current situation on my site (with contours of it), one part is above the road, I will start growing my forest garden from this place. Building is forbidden there, it can only be used for planting. Below road I have this pasture, little sloped to the east, and then a steep slope that was obviously too hard for use. It is covered with inch-thick shrubbery, and forest continues after this small valley as long as eyes can see.

I decide to use all the best places for forest garden. Maybe I could place a house on the road, but I decide to move it away, on the beginning of the steep slope. After I cut some of this shrubs, nice view would be possible from this place. Now it is the worst place for anything, it's like a gate to another world.

I don't plan to cut down this shrubs now, but if I ever do this, I might then build some terraces here to enable it's usage.

So, all what surrounds house would be of highest usage, driveway, playground, barbecue area etc. One part I marked as cereals, but it would be used for some monoculture, maybe reed, or so. I have neighbors on the north so I can not plant something that would cast big shade on their garden.

I have no animals and don't plan to have them. All other elements (rain harvest, windmill, solar water heaters and so) will probably easily find their place in this concept. Only pond, I have no clue where to place it. Or a couple of small ones?
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John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Nice looking layout.  Since the highest point is off limits for building, I also would have picked your spot for the house.  A word of caution though:  That is a heavily wooded, steep slope.  If a wildfire comes up that canyon, it will be underneath the house in seconds if you do not do some fairly substantial clearing.

I would certainly put some grapes along the 120' south border!  Looking at the "uncertain" sector to the northeast of the house, I see heavy brush and steep slope.  Looks like a perfect spot for some goats.  (Or sheep....I can smell the cevapcici grilling as I type!  LOL)
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Personally I would not put sheep or goats on a steep brushy slope - they may clear it so much it begins to erode.

 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Ok, I don't know what to do with this slope, so I wouldn't do anything. I might chop this shrubs bit by bit as I would need some material like fencing hurdles and at same time try to level it and plant something else. Until then this would be zone 5.

If I had some goat or sheep, it would soon become family pets so I don't think of them as a food, at all. Cevapcici, LOL, how did that pass the spelling check 

Yea, wildfire running up this slope is not what I had on my mind. Total clearance of this area is not possible, and I don't want to clear the forest just to feel comfortable. So, this might be a reason more to plan earth sheltered house. I just have some old drawings that I made long before I ever herd of permaculture, that would fit here perfectly.

Still thinking of this ponds. I actually don't need them, but it would be so nice to have them. Anyway, I'm just thinking where would be the easiest place to build a pond. Since it is a sloped terrain, I need some kind of dam on one side of pond. Since below this dam would be a steep slope, maybe I could use some of this bushes as reinforcement for a dam? Like this? Do I need reinforcement, and does this help?

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John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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A pond would act as a natural firebreak.  Since it would be to the east of the house, it would also provide a warming effect on the house during winter mornings.  Many edible plants can be grown at the edges of a pond, and it would certainly attract many birds and other wildlife.

As far as construction, I would try to get some advice from a soil engineer.  A high-level overflow pipe would be useful in controlling erosion problems.
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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RustysDog, you're full of useful ideas. So, I have steep slope that I don't know what to use for. I have fire problem coming up that slope. And I have pond on my mind that I don't know where to place. It is so obvious to place it below the house, on that slope. Yeah, it would be an engineering problem, but can be done. sepp holzer is doing it. I will work on this idea, but it looks like I have most peaces of this puzzle.

Thanks.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
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Drug Mile wrote:
I don't mind to read a lot, but some of the books might be better for backyards, or for huge properties or tropics.


No such thing.

Every book about Permaculture I have picked up, bought, or downloaded as a pdf or video has useful information be it for a terrace, or for 80+ HA. 


PK is about using resources, right?


Sort of, its more about working with nature, and not against.  However, I think that is up to interpretation. 

Am I missing something, is there a good reason to spend a little more money and time and alter the landscape to support tender fruits, or it is just a matter of personal preferences?


Every Permaculture property, garden, whatever is unique unto itself.  The first thing we should always do is watch the property for a year, and start mapping the whole property.  This can be a challenge unto itself, especially with the problems of providing food for the season, and may or may not give you a reason for water heat traps. 

Holzer's pond heat traps aren't just that.  He does use them for increasing biodiversity of useful plants that enjoy the humidity and other factors that other plants don't care for.  Example, you wouldn't plant corn in a pond, but water chestnuts would be great while the fish in the pond may or may not be able to sustain you with protein via fish & other plant products.

 
                    
Posts: 27
Location: Central Croatia
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I'm also setting up a PC farm in Croatia!!

I'm in Central Croatia and we have very little risk of forest fires.  There are so many springs in the forest areas.  Have you checked your land during the wet season to see if there are any natural springs?  I would think that would be an ideal place for a pond.

A lot of your choice of what to plant would depend on your needs.  Do you want to feed your family, do you want to earn income?
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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On my property there are no springs, as I could see, only this canyon below my property is marked as occasional water flow. I guess this is when the snow is melting down. River is couple of miles away.

What I want to do on my property? Well, for the first, feed my family. Second, earn some income, try to survive only from land, be self sustainable. And third, motivate some of my new neighbors to stay on this land and live from food they could grow here, since this area is getting depopulated, or being taken over by some city assholes like me.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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LOL.  Old school country folks vs the asshole city folks.  This must be a universal "problem".  In many parts of the USA this is also a 'problem'.  Where I most often hear of the problem is Upstate NY, and New England areas.  The city folks move to rural areas from big cities, and expect their rural community to build a new school, a public library, and dozens of other services that will put financial burdens on the local infrastructure, thereby causing Property Tax increases which force 3rd generation farmers to sell out (to more city folks, who are the only folks that can afford it).  Rural folks are slower to accept change than are city folks.  They resent city folks who move in to 'get away from city life', and then want city life to follow them out to the country.

I think if you move in and start making changes "without upsetting the apple cart", your neighbors will see that your family is living comfortably without raping the land.  They may start asking you questions...especially if you have surpluses of commodities that only "rich" city folks would normally eat.  Your comfortable life style will educate them.  Sometimes rural folks need some "fresh blood" to see new ideas.
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Whenever I drive through my new neighborhood, I observe this specific way of landscape decoration, and with my design I'm trying to fit in. This is totally opposite to what I got used to in city, so it would be a challenge also not to attract too much of attention. I guess I would have to learn a lot from this folks, and I hope they would eventually accept some of "my" stuff.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Looking at a zone map of Croatia (http://www.uk.gardenweb.com/forums/zones/hze6.html), I see US equivalents of zones 6, 7, & 8.  Since you said you are in the mountains (and colder), you are obviously not zone 8.  Zones 6 & 7 are very good zones for agriculture.  You are beyond the reach of tropical fruits, but well within the land of stone fruits and apples.  Providing for your family should be easy in zone 6, or 7.
 
It's a pleasure to see superheros taking such an interest in science. And this tiny ad:
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