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Ian Douglas

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since Nov 21, 2014
Northern Catskills, NY - Zone 5a, precip. 40"
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Recent posts by Ian Douglas

Peter Ellis wrote:A couple of thoughts: If I understand correctly, above the pond is the northerly, elevated and most stony part of your property? It is also the area where you have the densest current population of trees.
You are contemplating clearing this area that already has established trees, in order to plant trees? It would seem to me that it might not be the most efficient approach to remove established trees in order to start morre trees, especially where those trees are growing in challenging ground.

I would definitely inventory the existing trees and determine what useful varieties you already have in place - and remember that useful encompasses much more than producing food for humans



Point taken--would definitely make sure to ID first. I just had the impression that thinning of forested areas would likely be needed. Also I was thinking that the area directly north of the pond is prime for food-producing trees/other plants and non-food-producing trees might have to be sacrificed at some point. But feel free to change my mind.

Also, to be clear: the property slopes from NW to SE, with the steepest areas just above the house, just below the drive, and just below the pond (see yellow arrows). As for the rockiest terrain--I haven't established that yet.

Peter Ellis wrote:I would plan out at least one swale on contour below the pond, to assure an even distribution of the overflow from the pond and the runoff down the slope in general.



Yes, this is what I also envisioned. I am confused though as to whether it should be exactly on contour or slightly sloped to distribute the water from what is a fairly constant point source along the entire swale. Does anyone have thoughts on this?

Peter Ellis wrote:My initial thoughts also include planning for food forest running more or less down the hill below the house and between the pond and the property line. I am thinking in terms of using the area below the pond and toward the roads as the "broadacre" garden, so to speak, an area for perennial vegetables, berries, annual veggies, flowers, herbs - an area not focused around "forest" design.



Yeah, I like this idea. I guess I need to read up a little more specifically on forest gardening. Also, much of what I've read seems to have had more of an emphasis on starting with fairly empty, open land. I haven't come across much that talks about converting semi-forested/overgrown land. That's a little bewildering. But again, maybe some forest garden reading is in order.

Thanks!
4 years ago

John Wolfram wrote:
Getting your soil tested is dirt cheap (hehe) so I'd suggest collecting samples from a few locations the next time you are out at your property. At the UMass soil testing lab, they only charge $15 per sample for a routine soil analysis and they will email you your results within about 2 weeks.



Awesome...will definitely do that. Thanks!
4 years ago
Here are a few photos of parts of the upper half of the property.

Photo 1: Shot of the house from driveway
Photo 2: Shot of pond from west side looking to the east: note seep area (yellow flowers at left); spring (yellow flowers at center); outlet (yellow flowers at right)
Photo 3: Shot of the driveway
4 years ago
Here's an aerial of the full property showing road at SE end and creek alongside.
4 years ago

Miles Flansburg wrote:
Try not to cut down to many trees untill you have them identified. Many trees are good nurse trees or add nitrogen etc.
The thing to do now is take time to observe and document what you already have. Develop a plan.
It looks like your road to the house is already functioning as a sort of swale. Might be able to use that latter for tree planting. It also looks like the main road has water catchment or a ditch that could be used.
How deep is the pond? That is a really nice asset!
Do you have any pictures from ground level that you could share?



Thanks, Miles! Will post more pics next. Pond is maybe 8' deep and 70' diameter. We love it...
4 years ago

allen lumley wrote:look at the space around your name and L@@K at mine!



Thanks, Al. Done!
4 years ago
Oh, and how will our ESE/SE orientation effect our growing potential? We lose sun by late afternoon because of the slope behind us. Thanks!
4 years ago
Hi everyone--

My fiancee and I have recently purchased a 6 acre property on the northern edge of the Catskills in Eastern NY state. Since the purchase in Sept. we've become very interested in permaculture and hope to develop/restore the land gradually as we go. We do not live hear full time--we live NYC and plan to offset some of our costs through short term rentals of the property when we are not there. One day we do hope to live on the property for half the year or more.

I've done an initial read of a number of Permaculture books--Holzer's PC, Gaia's Garden, PC Handbook, The Resilient Farm... So I have a decent grasp of PC ideas but no practical experience and no real idea of how to adapt them to our particular property. I'm hoping some of you will be able to guide my thinking a bit. In particular, right now I'm trying to develop a vision for the future of the site and could use help determining what might succeed there. And then some advice on what could be done this spring/summer as a foundation for future work.

So some site details (see attached map):
Size: 5.8 acres
Location: Eastern NY State, North edge of the Catskills near Margaretville
Elevation: 1840'
Zone: 5a I think
Exposure: ESE to SE
Slope: Slopes from the top of the property at the NW to the bottom at the SE. Extreme (>10% slope maybe) at top. Level in center around pond. More gradual slope from pond to lower road.
Soil: Have not tested the soil yet. Very rocky in places. USDA soil survey says: NW quad (above pond)--Onteora/Ontusia soils, very stony; SW quad (above pond)--Willowemoc channery silt loam; NE quad (including pond)--Willowemoc channery silt loam; SE quad--Lordstown channery silt loam.
Rain: 40in annual
Water: spring fed pond with additional possible springs/seeps as indicated on map. Pond seems healthy with many frogs/tadpoles and limited number of both young and old Koi. House is on well/septic. The pond has an overflow that sends water down the property in numerous small rivulets.
Historical use: I think this area was pasture land

The attached map should give you some sense for the property. Gold arrows roughly indicate direction and degree of slope (more arrows=greater slope; 3 arrows together indicates a slope that would be intimidating to walk down under wet/snowy conditions, maybe over 10% grade). From the top of the property to the end of the pond, there is dense tree cover. So far I've only been able to identify what I think are Red Spruce and Honey Locust. Below the pond the land is mostly overgrown shrubs/grasses and some young trees.

Our initial thoughts:
- Clearing area N of pond for fruit/nut trees w/ guilds (but will the seep area cause water problems?)
- Eventually developing hugelkulture beds on the south-facing slope beneath the southern edge of the pond (or terraces? how to utilize pond overflow through beds? on contour or not?)
- Find an area or two to sheet mulch and try planting something
- Try a mushroom log

Our big questions:
- Is our soil bad for growing (or do we not know enough)?
- We probably need to do a good deal of tree thinning/clearing--any advice for going about this?
- Obviously we need to do a lot of observation before making any big decisions, but is there anything we should consider doing now?
- How to deal with the lower half of the property which we likely won't have much time to tend to immediately. Just let it grow? Periodically chop and drop? Broadcast some beneficial seeds?

Is there anything I've forgotten?

Any/all help appreciated!!!
4 years ago