So, I used to be a member here and probably still am, but my computer quit on me and I forgot the password to my old email, and not being able to get into it meant I couldn't log in here. I was the crazy bastard that wanted to grow tea and bamboo in Ohio, and I still intend to. The land acquisition process has taken longer than expected, but I am making strides in that direction and am under contract for a place in Scioto County with 22 acres. If all goes well, We will move in, in August. (Also want my pie and apples from before if possible...)
Since I have been away, and because of the challenges of our intended property, I have changed my strategy considerably. The land is 22 acres, of which about one is like prairie with head-high grass and rocky soil. The other 21 acres are mature hardwood forest on a 45 degree slope... to a point. The really cool thing I discovered in the forest is 100+ year old terraces faced with stone walls. I had to climb over one to get from the tall grass to the forest proper. They are in disrepair, but nothing I can't fix. It is at these terraces that I plan to plant an understory of Camelia japonica. Something I learned from growing tobacco is that shade mellows flavor. And Camelia japonica in the wild grows as an understory in mature forest. Something else of note is that many of the trees are maples. I plan to go surveying and find all the sugar maples and mark them for spring tapping. The sugar issue I previously discussed will likely be a non issue as I have read virtually every book by Noel Perrin on the art of maple sugaring and he is an able teacher and excellent story teller (and as well, I went to a seminar on tapping maples held every spring at the Slate Run Historical Farm). Since we last spoke, I have read many books and considered many ideas. The tall grass area will become the primary garden. I intend to clear it with a ditch blade scythe and go for the back to eden method. It already has some topsoil and rotting debris; and layers of cardboard (easily had after we move), compost, and shredded wood will greatly improve the site. The weeds and grass will decay under the cardboard and should only improve the site. I found several feral comfrey plants in the field, and these I will transplant elsewhere. There is an area where trees are younger near the road, and I intend to cut these for timbers* and replace them with bamboo. Being near the road and about as far from my three neighbors as possible, I think this is the best spot. It is also good hydrologically for the water-loving bamboo as it is fed by road runoff and downhill runoff. The roadside ditch is basically nonexistent for the most part except near the house, so I see myself doing some repairs on that at some point, but with a way to collect water rather than drain it. The house is on a hill of mowed grass. This will be terraced and have raised beds installed, and become a substantial herb garden. We have apple seeds and cherry pits collected this year, and plan to start them next spring and plant them in a somewhat cleared area behind the house in a guild style. We have two willows I cloned and these go out by the driveway. And this long post just scratches the surface of my plans.
* most trees on the property are enormous. Younger trees are needed for beams to build the carport, outdoor kitchen, and barn. If I cut the behemoth maples and oaks, I would have a hell of a hard time turning them into lumber with the tools at my disposal, or even moving them for that matter.
Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.
Much of the construction on cottages in medieval England involved splitting large tree trunks in half and then joining both half as the top to form a very strong arch. Many of these buildings are still being used today.
has a man showing how to use very basic equipment (chain, wedge and a sledge hammer) to split a beechwood tree in half. He goes on to say how he's going to use the same technique to continue splitting off boards from the trunk to use for building. Skip past the first minute if you don't want to listen to the introduction.
Probably less useful, but here are some articles about medieval construction. http://www.today.plus.com/houses/ Maybe there will be things there that you can use on your own projects. They certainly didn't have access to any of the large industry tools people use today. Imagine how much they'd have loved a chainsaw.
Casie Becker wrote:This man is splitting oak to use for furniture pieces, but I think he goes into better detail as well as being less intimidating because he doesn't feel the need to work such a large section.
I'm back too, also an old member who lost all login details and been away for years. Congratulations on the new property! Sounds like you've got some work ahead of you.
Do you know anything about the history of the terraces? Have you measured to see if they are on accurate contour? Is there any obvious reason why they were constructed, or do you think it is just because of the steep slope? Slopes are harder to work with, but they make the land a lot more interesting!
One thing I have found that might be of some value to you. If you mow the long grass before sheet mulching the grass tries to regenerate fast. I've found it is easier to just push the grass flat and then mulch over the top. Some forestry guys here have found that just pushing the grass flat away form the tree and placing a weight to prevent it standing up again works, it seems to change the hormonal balance in C3 grasses and make them go kind of dormant. Mulch over the top and they seem to die faster than if cut first. This trick does not apply to fast growing tropical C4 grasses like kikuyu grass unfortunately.