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Starting the process in a forest  RSS feed

 
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I just bought 8 acres that is just 2 miles away from our current home.  We do not plan to build for a few years but I want to start as much of the prep work as possible on my own. 

We will not be true homesteaders.  We will both have full time jobs.  We want to make use of the land as best we can with out it costing much time or money.  (food forest, small garden, chickens, maybe goats, a couple out buildings, etc...)

There is currently nothing but a forest on the land.  We will need a well, septic and a driveway.  My issue is what is the "order of operation"?

What can I do in the next few years to make the process cheaper and easier?  Should i focus on clearing land for the driveway and home site?  When do I get a perc test and put in a well? Do I need an exact house site or is an approximation good enough for now? 

Should I start developing a food forest?

I do not have much experience but am not a complete dunce.  I have and can use a chainsaw.  I plan on getting a bigger one as well.  We currently have chickens and a small garden where we live now but want to expand some with extra privacy and play/experimental space.

Any advise on Books or a simple step by step guide for what to do first would be most appreciated.
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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A lot depends on where your land is, the climate.  Planning will be different for a hot, dry climate versus a cold, moist one.  So giving more information about your location would be helpful.

The basic design steps are:

1. Observation
2. Earthworks
3. Buildings, fencing, and hardscape (driveways, paths, roads)
4. Plantings
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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This video gives some idea of placement of features in a new piece of land:  


 
harrison camp
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Thanks for the reply.  I will check out the video.  Earthworks are something I know little about.  Any book recommendations?

We live in middle Tennessee on the Cumberland plateau.

My land is pretty flat with no water features.  It is completely wooded.

 
Tyler Ludens
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My favorite book about earthworks is Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 2 by Brad Lancaster.  https://www.harvestingrainwater.com/
 
pollinator
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I'm not doing true permaculture.  I'd say I'm more of a food forester.  My home was in place when I moved here so I only have so much to work with.  If it were me I would start doing research on what kind Fruiting trees, plants, and bushes I want.  This goes for perennial flowers. and etc., grow as much of what you need as you can.  When you purchase a tree, shrub or tree be thinking how can I take it and make twenty trees or shrubs. 

Focus hard on what does well in your area and know the diseases etc.   A great tasting apple that never grows because of a disease is not a good tree for you.   Once I did this I would create a fenced nursery and some sort of water catchment for watering.  Learn how to propagate the different types of plants, air-layering, seed cuttings etc., 

Start propagating what you will be planting out, create a stock nursery. 

I started doing this a little late.    For instance, if you know you want hazelnuts find out what type does the best,  find out the pollinators and plant say three different types of hazelnuts in your nursery.  In year two you can start air layering the hazelnuts to build your stock.     If it ends up that the nursery is in the wrong place just dismantle it by planting out.  

For me, a line shack or a shed is huge. Staying dry in the rain, a place to put a cot and sleeping bag and a place to keep tools on site.     The shed or old beat up a trailer can be moved or dismantled when you have a better idea of what is going where.     

Keep it fun.

 
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Do you need a well.
Rainwater capture and use is covered in some topics of mine.
Also would a composting toilet be ok, and will reed beds work for the grey water
 
pollinator
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harrison camp wrote:I just bought 8 acres that is just 2 miles away from our current home.  We do not plan to build for a few years but I want to start as much of the prep work as possible on my own. 

We will not be true homesteaders.  We will both have full time jobs.  We want to make use of the land as best we can with out it costing much time or money.  (food forest, small garden, chickens, maybe goats, a couple out buildings, etc...)

There is currently nothing but a forest on the land.  We will need a well, septic and a driveway.  My issue is what is the "order of operation"?

What can I do in the next few years to make the process cheaper and easier?  Should i focus on clearing land for the driveway and home site?  When do I get a perc test and put in a well? Do I need an exact house site or is an approximation good enough for now? 

Should I start developing a food forest?

I do not have much experience but am not a complete dunce.  I have and can use a chainsaw.  I plan on getting a bigger one as well.  We currently have chickens and a small garden where we live now but want to expand some with extra privacy and play/experimental space.

Any advise on Books or a simple step by step guide for what to do first would be most appreciated.




I would really focus on observation at this point. I started 23 years ago, but one mistake I made is not orienting my house right. I placed it square to the road, but had I twisted the house location about 15 degrees I would have gotten perfect North-South facing directions! Don't be a Travis (LOL)

I would also get the PERC test for the septic system as soon as possible, and here is why; a lot of other major things are based on that. The soil engineer will determine where that will go, and on some sites can be almost anywhere, and yet on others is VERY specific. If it is the latter, then where your house location will be, will be determined by that, not to mention your well since it has to be 100 feet away from your septic system. See how certain things dictate orientation of other things?

I would still loosely orient the house, outbuildings, food forests etc, so the soil engineer doing the septic system design will have something to go off from, in other words do not give him a blank canvas as they might situate the leach field in a crazy spot. In other words, there is a big difference in saying, "I would like to position my house around here", rather then saying, "The house is going to be here". There is a big difference in that.
 
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Observe and design a complete plan for the entire 8acres
Select an idea that you would like to be your house site, get a perc test and then cut down all the trees in that area.
Now that you have a design with swales for all 8acres, actually dig/create the for just the acres that you have cleared
Spread the woodchip/biochar and possible some wine cap mushrooms.
Plant 90% of the site with nitrogen fixers, by the time the food forest is mature it will go down to 25%.
Plant the actually fruit/nut trees/shrub that you want.
I pond also sounds like a wonderful idea, but you have to digg deeper than the freeze line


 
gardener
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harrison camp wrote:Thanks for the reply.  I will check out the video.  Earthworks are something I know little about.  Any book recommendations?

We live in middle Tennessee on the Cumberland plateau.

My land is pretty flat with no water features.  It is completely wooded.



I would add Mark Shepard's book "Restoration Agriculture", it covers swales and berms (two different methods are talked about with photos) and a lot more.
Those two books (the one Tyler mentioned and this one)  will get you off to a good start.
 
My honeysuckle is blooming this year! Now to fertilize this tiny ad:
Rumpelstiltskin ain't got nothing on this
https://permies.com/wiki/92731/fiber-arts/Homegrown-Linen-transforming-flaxseed-fibre
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