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Starting out in the Piedmont of NC  RSS feed

 
Posts: 9
Location: North Carolina
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Wanted to introduce ourselves, we're kind of on the edge of the Piedmont/Mountain region of NC, west of Charlotte.  Just starting out(officially started a blog 8/1/18), we've been on our property for just about 5 years and have definitely gotten a full understanding of the place. We've done a few things(apple trees, natives, annual garden,...). Things are starting to get serious and we're making a master plan that is pretty much completed. We're going to break it down into smaller projects trying not to take on too much. We wanted to document our journey to encourage others in similar circumstances. We both work, we don't have family land, we're not funded by others,... this is just us doing things after our work days and on the weekends to sometime in the future enjoy what we've created.

We have about 4 acres of a hillside that is a wooded mess and 2 acres of flat grass area that has been left un-mowed where our home is. We've taken back some of the grass and planted natives in an area behind the house and with an annual garden in the front with some apple trees. A recent project the past spring was a raspberry, strawberry and blueberry area in front of the house. We also did a really cool project this summer building an off-grid solar irrigation system that we're putting together a blog post for.

Here are some of what we have planned so far:

First, Our master plan calls for moving our 10 apple trees to a better location(we didn't think this out when we planted them), luckily they aren't too large and we will move those over the winter when they go dormant. We unfortunately also suffer from apple/cedar rust on of the 2 varieties of them, but will still let them grow to pollinate others.

Second, the big project that got a little kick start last week when we had a micro-burst come through and take out 10-15 large trees in an area we had plans for. About 1 acre of our hillside is going to be cleared(mostly small <4" diameter) and swales built on a one percent grade that will eventually feed a pond near the house. We will be planting a mix of Chestnut/Pecan/Walnuts with lots of varieties of berries. Since it looks like this may happen in the fall we're going to cover crop the whole area and plant later in the beginning of 2019.

Third, dig out the pond that will supply our irrigation that will be fed by the hillside. We quickly realized the novelty of our 550gallons of rain water collecting is not near enough for a garden of a decent size. We also go through this weird period around June-August were we get little to no rain. The pond looks to be about 30x50foot and we're thinking maybe 6foot deep or so

Fourth, Market gardens, this is still up in the air if this becomes too much to tackle. but we have plans for 32x100foot and 50x75foot plots.  The 32x100 might be installed over winter, and the other probably 2020.

Other than that we've thought about chickens, bees, and other additions but those will definitely come later, one step at a time.

We're calling ourselves, The Piedmont Homestead. Going to try to update here for advice/questions and posting this all on our blog and Instagram pages as well.

Blog: thepiedmonthomestead.com
Instagram: thepiedmonthomestead
Facebook: thepiedmonthomestead



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Newly installed wood burning insert
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Berry area from the spring
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The Master Plan in progress
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90mph winds knocked down the trees
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Cutting a line in the woods on contour for swales
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Elderberries!
 
steward
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Welcome to permies Mike ! Looks like a real nice place. We are looking forward to seeing and hearing about what you do with your place.
 
Posts: 60
Location: Durham, NC
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I'm also in the NC piedmont but I haven't bought land yet.  Hope your ventures work out well for you!
 
pollinator
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Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Elderberries. I like it already!
 
Mike Smithy
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Welcome to permies Mike ! Looks like a real nice place. We are looking forward to seeing and hearing about what you do with your place.



Thanks! Anxious to start on the hillside clearing it out.

Rob Lineberger wrote:I'm also in the NC piedmont but I haven't bought land yet.  Hope your ventures work out well for you!



Thanks! Good luck on your search, we landed in this area because of the proximity to family and the mountains and cheaper land.  We got lucky and found a renovated home on 6 acres when everything else we saw either needed alot of work or was a small weird plot.  I see you're in Durham area, we moved from Wake Forest before we landed here.

Mike Barkley wrote:Elderberries. I like it already!



Yup, its one of the first things we planted and we've propagated(very easy) them since then. Started with 3 plants and have 20+ now with volunteers coming up everywhere.  Only problem is the birds are really putting a hurt on our crop, but that just means we have to plant more!
 
Mike Smithy
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No pictures for this update, but we're trying to find a contractor? to get the land cleared, swales installed and pond installed. We got the swales marked(using an A-Frame) and flagged the area to be cleared. The soil properties are promising for our pond, with clay down to around 36", looks like we are probably going to have to line the bottom. But we have plenty of area to steal clay from for that. We talked to our county natural resources engineer and he brought up some soil tests in our area ranging 25-50" deep in clay. I dug a test pit last night with a post hole digger and got clay down to 36" and stopped.

We unfortunately found out that the storm we had at the beginning of the month pulled large sections of our shingles up.  They're still up there barring any more strong winds happen. Hopefully we can get that fixed before something major starts to happen.
 
Mike Barkley
pollinator
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Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Dr. Redhawk's soil series

This is highly recommended reading if you haven't done so already.

I enjoyed reading your blog last month. Well done. Always good to hear from neighbors on the other side of the mountains.
 
Mike Smithy
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Mike Barkley wrote:Dr. Redhawk's soil series

This is highly recommended reading if you haven't done so already.

I enjoyed reading your blog last month. Well done. Always good to hear from neighbors on the other side of the mountains.



Thanks, there is a lot to digest there I'll definitely keep reading for the next few months
 
Mike Smithy
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A lot to update on, more detail is in an article we posted on our blog in the link below.

Pond - This has turned out to be a very difficult thing to find a contractor to dig a irrigation pond...would have had no idea. We've been trying to find someone for months now with no luck.  If anyone in our area has any leads please let us know.

Market Garden - We bought a used frame about a month ago and have been piecing things together since then. We leveled the ground roughly a few weeks ago and what seems like rain since that time. Right now we have all the parts for the metal frame, however much is not assembled(hardly anything). We have our ground posts in and put up one of the hoops last night and it is wayyyy to tall, so back to pounding the ground posts in another foot(wish us luck on that). Final dimensions will be 30' x60' with a height to be determined.

100yards of mulch - I do not know why we decided to but we had a 18-wheeler drop off a full load of mulch. It took us 3 months of manual labor to get it spread out!  This was part of our plan to grow less lawn.

Inside the home, we're going to build a fixture for above the dining table using a slab of pecan. We picked up the slab but have yet to start working on that project, but very excited about!

https://www.thepiedmonthomestead.com/piedmont-homestead-update-1/
 
Mike Smithy
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No picture for this, but we've been recommended not to build a pond (sad). We have issues with soil and drainage downstream of the pond location. So we need to figure out another way to supplement water. We are thinking about rainwater catchment and a couple 5,000 gallon tanks, but that will be postponed later next year, until we can figure that out more.
 
Mike Barkley
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Howdy again. Sorry to hear about the pond but I would consider getting a second opinion or two. I live not too far from ya'll but on the other side of the mountains. That being said, I've found in my 3 years of gardening in TN that supplemental water is rarely needed for the garden. Again, being on the other side of the mountains could be the difference. Didn't see any mention of hugelkulturs. Have you considered that? They're great for water retention.

Shortly after your initial post I was offered more elderberry plants. So we now have about 20 more going. elderberry flu prevention
 
Mike Smithy
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Mike Barkley wrote:Howdy again. Sorry to hear about the pond but I would consider getting a second opinion or two. I live not too far from ya'll but on the other side of the mountains. That being said, I've found in my 3 years of gardening in TN that supplemental water is rarely needed for the garden. Again, being on the other side of the mountains could be the difference. Didn't see any mention of hugelkulturs. Have you considered that? They're great for water retention.

Shortly after your initial post I was offered more elderberry plants. So we now have about 20 more going. elderberry flu prevention



Elderberries are so easy to grow, we've been propagating them all over and the birds have done some too! You can root cuttings pretty easily in the spring, that is how we've been getting more from the 3 plants we initially purchased.

We were going to use the pond for irrigation on some pretty intensive gardens to avoid using the well for the house. I'm not a huge fan of pulling out that much water out of the ground that we rely on for ourselves. The problem with the pond appears to be the soil type is sandy clay down to about 3-4ft and we would have to have the pond excavated. Below that level is rock.  This information came from our county extension and their experience in our area. We were going to pretty much plan on bringing in clay anyway, so I'm not sure the basis for that. We'd like to get a second opinion but we cant get anyone to pose any interest! Maybe I'll just dig a 6ft hole and see what happens,...that should be easy, haha.

At a minimum we will be putting in some swales on the hill above the pond location if it does not work out, at least that way i feel a bit better about using the well and it can become our nut/berry forest. The other option was to add rain catchment to the house on a large scale(~10,000 gallons) and use that water. But that also poses its own problems and will definitely be something we look into later if needed.
 
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