Hey all. Imagine you have 2.5 acres on the fertile land of the Midwest. A house, an old barn, a milk house, a garage, and a shed. Barn, milkhouse, and shed are in less than ideal condition, but still standing. Imagine you won't use the land for another 10 years. What types of low-mid maintenance things would you plant, build, and collect to prepare for the future of the land? I'm thinking of planting some appletrees, nut trees, and maybe monitoring craigslist for some building supplies and furnishings for a small cabin to put on the land. What would you do?
You haven't said anything about what you want to do, so I will have to speak personally.
I would strip the house for materials and throw away whatever wasn't useful to me. I would retrofit the barn with lofted living space using materials reclaimed from the house and from elsewhere, a multi-story lean-to four-season greenhouse on the southern side, and a hotshop and coldworking shop for my glassblowing much better half.
I would want no fewer than two trout-deep ponds, one at the top and one at the bottom of the system, and I would design it so that either a wind pump would move water back to the top of the system when the wind blew, or that when my battery storage capacity was exceeded, the excess would power a pump to do the same thing.
I would determine what, if any, slope existed, and at a bare minimum, I would install on-contour nutrient traps across the whole acreage. This could consist of nothing more than fallen branches and larger forest detritus and rocks placed on contour in such a way that anything being blown across the ground and anything carried by surface water flow during rain events would be trapped to create soil there. Without doing anything else, pioneer plants would take advantage of the new space, increasing root penetration into the soil and, therefore, water infiltration.
I would make on-contour swales with a bit of a hugel feature in the down-grade hill, because the grade wouldn't be too steep, and in any case, I would plant erosion-mitigating green manures. On these row-hills, I would plant strips of food forest, including but not limited to strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, serviceberries, mulberries, all the temperate stone fruit, pears, apples, hazels, and chestnut trees.
I would space these rows far enough apart for the use of any wagons, tractors or other things that might need to pass between the rows, and those alleys would be made over as a polycultural soil-building pasture, feeding pollinators, as well as the occasional ruminant.
I would use the general alley structure as paddocks, growing hawthorn in with the food forest rows so that animal access could be barred. Pear would be grafted onto the hawthorn.
I would grow a mixed coniferous and transitional hardwood windbreak on the perimeter edges of the property wherefrom the prevailing winds would bear, and I would cultivate culinary mushrooms there.
The alley spaces near the house would be intensively cultivated market garden, perhaps in raised beds.
I would have small numbers of a few different types of animals that, for the most part, would be rotated one after the other through the paddock system. My outbuildings and shelters would all be designed to move through the alleys easily and have open bottoms where possible.
All access paths would be dug out to the subsoil, and that filled in with ramial wood chips and coffee grounds. The paths would be dug out seasonally or every other season, and new chips added.
These are just a few thoughts.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Time = 10yrs
Visits = Monthly or Quarterly
Funds = $4,000 per year
Desired Result = Good Soil, Nuts, Fruits, Berries, Mushrooms, Herbs, Vegetables, Fish Pond, 2 Bee Hive, Hay Pasture, Green House, Cabin
Cabin Systems= Portable Water, GreyWater, Septic, Solar-Electric, Solar-Heating, Propane Tank, Outdoor Kitchen, Superinsulated house
Steps needed = ???
I would do the following:
Soil Observation/Planning/Testing (what you are doing now)
Earthworks/Swales (I would hire a bulldozer and just give them the money
Carbon/CoverCrop/WoodChip/Strawbale/BioChar (CL, sales, chop and drop, talk to arborist)
Soil Life (Compost, Worm Tea, Mushroom Slurries)
Minerals (Rockdust, Minerals, Sea90)
CoverCrop (80% legumes to increase soil fertility)
Woodlot (0.3 acre)
This is really just your living fence around your property that you pollard for firewood/etc
Pasture (1 acre)
You can think of this as cover crop that you chop and drop to increase fertility.
I would cut it monthly and also reseed it yearly to get the right mix.
When you get animals I would then do 45% legume family, 45% grass family, 10% medicinals/herbs/aerators
Rotational Grazing is wonderful.
Water Pond, I would have 4 fish ponds that the animals drink from
You can have a little 3sided shed that travels with the sheep/goat
You can have the chickens follow behind the 4 days after the animals
Food Forest (1 acre and 180 fruit/nut trees)
Cover Crop (get a mower and cut it once a month/quarterly)
Nut/Fruit/Berry Trees (get some machine to dig 3ft holes every 15ft, then buy them bare root/potted, inoculate and plant)
Herbs/Support (Plant the support species around your fruit trees in the spring after planting your plants in the Fall (Oct/Nov/Dec))
Mushroom (Innoculate some woodchip with oyster and wine cap, then just add woodchip yearly as you get some)
Vegetable (create a little vegetable garden so that you are enticed to come weekly to the "STORE" to pickup your vegetables)
2 Bee Hive
Tiny Fish-Duck Pond
Cabin (0.2 acre)
Lawn (dutch clover, which can handle the foot traffic and then whatever else pops up)
Greenhouse (build one it can even be unheated so that you can extend your growing season)
Cabin and it's systems. I like the idea of a strawbale house.
Iterations are fine, we don't have to be perfect
Our first order of business must be this tiny ad:
1st edition of Living Wood Magazine--Now free for a while