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Absolute Newbie advice.  RSS feed

 
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Hi everybody.

I own/inherited an approximately 3 acre chunk of land out in Western NY (Zone 6B hardiness). It's been in the family for generations and "back in the day" used to be a farm plot where my Great-Grandparents grew tomatoes. Over the intervening 60-70 years it has returned to woodland.

I used to go hunting in these woods but as time has passed all the neighboring landowners Posted their property leaving only my stamp of 3 acres for me to be on. Being land locked, unlikely to ever be developed and not really of any other use to me I have been considering options to convert it into a sort of "food forest".

My goals are to improve the ecology of the land, have a food source for my family (I live 45 minutes away, but this is my Sisters "backyard" literally...it abuts her property on the East and I have numerous relatives in the area that could access it), and gain some use out of this plot.

That being said, I am open to ANY suggestions on how to proceed. Come Spring my intention was to get out there and see/identity exactly what sorts of Trees I already have out there, perhaps clear some brush and cut down any deadwood. After that I was thinking I would just start with planting/replacing some trees with the taller nut bearing trees. Along those lines, what sort of tree would do best in my neck of the woods?


 
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I would guess that walnuts, butternuts, hazelnuts, cherries, apples and chestnuts would do fine.  You might want to search for Edible Acres and Twisted Tree nursery.  They're both permaculture nurseries in upstate NY.  If they can grow it, you should be able to as well.

I think western NY might be closer to a zone 6 or 5.  Might want to double check so you have the right number when shopping for possible trees/shrubs.

It looks like the southern edge of your lot has fields to the south of it.  That would be a great place to focus on for things that may need more sun.

Is there any water on the site?  Or major elevation changes?  Those could be design features to work with.

Unless you need the dead wood for something, I'd be tempted to leave it up for the wild critters.  Clearing brush could be good or bad.  Around me the "brush" is often shrubs that have berries on them.

Keep in mind deer nibbling pressure when you plant new stuff...
 
Tom Gerace
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Mike Jay wrote:I would guess that walnuts, butternuts, hazelnuts, cherries, apples and chestnuts would do fine.  You might want to search for Edible Acres and Twisted Tree nursery.  They're both permaculture nurseries in upstate NY.  If they can grow it, you should be able to as well.

I think western NY might be closer to a zone 6 or 5.  Might want to double check so you have the right number when shopping for possible trees/shrubs.

It looks like the southern edge of your lot has fields to the south of it.  That would be a great place to focus on for things that may need more sun.

Is there any water on the site?  Or major elevation changes?  Those could be design features to work with.

Unless you need the dead wood for something, I'd be tempted to leave it up for the wild critters.  Clearing brush could be good or bad.  Around me the "brush" is often shrubs that have berries on them.

Keep in mind deer nibbling pressure when you plant new stuff...



Thanks! Yes, you are correct. It's 6B. I mistyped.

The South edge was what I was thinking about starting on. Theres a drainage ditch between the wood edge and that farm field that usually has water. The wood lot raises to a gentle crest in the middle of my lot and descends into a swampy area on the Northern side.

We used to have Apple and Pear Trees growing in our yard when I was a kid so they do grow in the area. Most of my families farm was converted to grape vineyards long before I was born. Not a lot of wild berries in those woods (actually none I ever saw) but black and red raspberries are grown in many gardens in that area.
 
Mike Jay
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Water and swamps are neat.  Lots of berries like a bit of extra water (elderberry, gooseberry, currants).  I guess I'd check into which foods you'd like to eat and what conditions they like.  I hear currants, gooseberries, elderberry and hazelnuts don't need more than 1/2 sun.  So you might not have to make too much room in order to fit a few dozen of them in the plan.

Having ditch water during tree establishment could be very helpful.
 
Tom Gerace
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Come Spring Ill take some photos and add them to this thread to see what sort of advice I can get.

The Eastern and Southern borders of this plot are thick with thorn bushes but the interior is actually quite clear of undergrowth with ferns being the predominant ground cover. I've never really taken stock of the tree types on the property. But I believe there are a number of Black Walnut and Maples back there.
 
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600 year chestnut project

If the neighbors would not give permission to hunt on their property I would be tempted to make a small pond & plant some turnips & other deer friendly food away from the people foods. NW corner looks promising.
 
Tom Gerace
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Mike Barkley wrote:600 year chestnut project

If the neighbors would not give permission to hunt on their property I would be tempted to make a small pond & plant some turnips & other deer friendly food away from the people foods. NW corner looks promising.



For growing Chestnuts...what would that process look like for me? Buy saplings? Start at home from seed? I’ve even heard that squirrels burying nuts can start saplings...just plant nuts (when? Where?)? What sort of ground prep and attention would they need in this “planted in the woods” situation?
 
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If money and tools are available.
I think clear cutting all 3 acres and planting 300 trees at 20ft centers.
Dutch clover and mint+onion family cover crop would be awesome, maybe 300 adlers ($2/each) between all of those 300 fruit/nut plants.
All that extra adler will up the nitrogen fixing function of the land. you can cull them once they start shading out the "food species"
If possible a 1/4 acre pond could be done too, digg out the hole (10ft+deep ) and then in year two or later get some pond liner or seal it naturally with pigs/ducks/etc.
I would also add 3+ bee hive too.


 
Mike Jay
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I think the permaculture way would be to get a few hundred chestnut seeds, possibly of preferred parentage, and plant them like a squirrel would.  2-3" deep.  Ideally in the fall since they probably need a cold stratification period.  If you get some this winter and the ground's frozen, you could probably give them that cold stratification in a rodent protected cold place this winter and plant in the spring.  If you flag the spots  where you plant them, you can watch for sprouts and protect the ones that start to grow from the nibblers.  I'd be tempted to plant 10 in a spot.  When they get 10' tall consider thinning them down to one at that point.  Plus if you have something squirrel proof (maybe a milk crate) you could put that over some of the clusters until they sprout.  No sense protecting all of them, just do some to see if it matters.

I'm sure there are better ways but that's what comes to mind
 
Tom Gerace
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Mike Jay wrote:I think the permaculture way would be to get a few hundred chestnut seeds, possibly of preferred parentage, and plant them like a squirrel would.  2-3" deep.  Ideally in the fall since they probably need a cold stratification period.  If you get some this winter and the ground's frozen, you could probably give them that cold stratification in a rodent protected cold place this winter and plant in the spring.  If you flag the spots  where you plant them, you can watch for sprouts and protect the ones that start to grow from the nibblers.  I'd be tempted to plant 10 in a spot.  When they get 10' tall consider thinning them down to one at that point.  Plus if you have something squirrel proof (maybe a milk crate) you could put that over some of the clusters until they sprout.  No sense protecting all of them, just do some to see if it matters.

I'm sure there are better ways but that's what comes to mind



Good info! Thanks. I'm not in a huge hurry. I think this spring will be a recon/planning/maybe a little clearing work and then try something like you suggest come next fall.
 
Tom Gerace
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S Bengi wrote:If money and tools are available.
I think clear cutting all 3 acres and planting 300 trees at 20ft centers.
Dutch clover and mint+onion family cover crop would be awesome, maybe 300 adlers ($2/each) between all of those 300 fruit/nut plants.
All that extra adler will up the nitrogen fixing function of the land. you can cull them once they start shading out the "food species"
If possible a 1/4 acre pond could be done too, digg out the hole (10ft+deep ) and then in year two or later get some pond liner or seal it naturally with pigs/ducks/etc.
I would also add 3+ bee hive too.




My wife has been talking about bees for a while...that's WAY (currently) out of my experience wheel house though.
 
S Bengi
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I would get a empty bee hive and open it
Wear my biggest winter jacket, gloves and jeans for protection.
Put on a the bee suit thing for my head.
Grab the bee hive starter, shake it out onto the empty bee hive.
Cover it back up and that is it. Never harvest it.

But maybe in 2 years, you will learn how to harvest honey, but at least it will already be there waiting for you.
 
Tom Gerace
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Just for future reference. The actual plot is more square and is actually 6 acres. This is from my County Tax mapping site.

 
Mike Barkley
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Chestnuts DO need cold stratification. Commercial nurseries do sell the saplings. I have some nuts in the freezer to attempt to start some from seed. There is some specific info in that 600 year thread from experienced growers. Quite a bit of info online elsewhere too.

Grab the bee hive starter, shake it out onto the empty bee hive.
Cover it back up and that is it. Never harvest it.

But maybe in 2 years, you will learn how to harvest honey, but at least it will already be there waiting for you.  



In the ideal bee world maybe. Starting with a small amount of unadapted commercial bees in NY that would be a stretch.
 
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