Author Topic: Zone 5 Permaculture/Food Forest  (Read 1987 times)

Offline 4Gators

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Zone 5 Permaculture/Food Forest
« on: January 15, 2017, 04:45:24 AM »
Hello All! 

I am in Zone5, live on a rather steep hillside, 5 acres - very rough rocky ground/soil.  I have wooded area that borders part of my land and am interested in extending that forest area into my yard with an edible food forest.  My issue is the steep hillside I live on and building swales.  I am worried that building swales could cause a landslide?  I am also struggling with very poor rocky soil. 

I have looked into the hugelkultur approach, but feel that this option would not look natural to the hillside. 

Does anyone have experience with similar issues that could give me some pointers to speed up my mission or point in a direction that I can research on my own?  I have exhausted google and find very little info on hillside/zone5 permaculture. 

Thank you in advance for any and all help you can provide!

Offline CF.Tree

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Re: Zone 5 Permaculture/Food Forest
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2017, 05:17:13 PM »
With such a steep grade you can try to set posts in the ground the deeper the better below frost if possible. The idea is to have a line of them level or with a slight pitch, after the posts are in placing weaving or placing a variety of mostly woody stuff on the up hill side. Follow with finer material to act as a screen to slow or catch any thing washing down the hill .  Ideal plant small bare root plants near  on up or down hill side depending on the challenge . Down hill if there are regular occurrences of debris such as rock rolling down the hill the posts should be as short as possible to be effective in holding soil and deflecting debris. Up hill if there is no debris.

Black locust is considered invasive , but is good for challenging locations. I have heard of planting J chokes with locust for erosion challenged sites to stabilize soil, but it was considered a one way solution that is hard to go back. 

Goose berries may be an other plant if you do not mind thorns, that may work with mulberry trees if the trees are kept compact as they can get really big

Offline 4Gators

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Re: Zone 5 Permaculture/Food Forest
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2017, 03:03:40 AM »
Thanks for the input CF.Tree, that helps to get the brain thinking again.  We don't really have an erosion problem right now, just 5 acres of grass!!  My worry is that if I start disrupting the soil and such I will create an erosion problem.

Your idea about the posts is interesting, wonder if fruit trees planted this way would work?  Like a zig zag pattern on angle from top to bottom (or as bottom as I want to go with food forest)  thoughts?

My long term goal is to get the food forest going, and once the hubby is convinced, move on to small livestock.  I know it would work better the other way 'round, but this was the easiest way to pull the hubby along on the permaculture/prepping ride.

Thanks again! ;D

Offline CF.Tree

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Re: Zone 5 Permaculture/Food Forest
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2017, 07:31:54 PM »
Not sure I follow your zigzag idea.

The smaller the tree or plant the less disturbance upon planting, but the more venerable to drought, pest, or failure in general . Larger plants have more to draw from when stressed.

To get the most bang for your buck you might consider planting "bare root" plants that are not grafted like filbert or other fruit or nut bearing plant, or root stocks.
Non grafted plants can be propagated from you original purchased plants for a savings if you develop a fairly easy skill . I was able to purchase 12 rootstocks for the price of 1 grafted tree, for me it gave better chances of the success of a live tree at lower cost, if I chose to learn to graft, the varieties I could have are much more than are regularly sold. 

Grow a little fruit tree by Ann Ralph was in my local library and well worth a read to learn about how you can have the tree you want with pruning and other methods.
I would try to get some wood chips( Not Walnut) that have aged for at least year to use as a mulch around your trees . Aged wood chips can help hold moisture, reduce competition, and also act as a visual locator.
Many a tree is mowed down when it blends with the grasses that compete with it  epically in the first season. Daffodils can protect the root system against voles, and garlic is said to help against borers if planted around base. Deer, rabbit, goat and others may seek out your trees especially when other small branched woody plants are not as easy to reach ( winter). Hardware cloth enclosure for the starting tree or at least around trunk to prevent it from being eaten to the ground. Some times even badly damaged trees will send up new growth in the spring. If it is a grafted tree any new growth below graft line should be removed unless you lost the viability of the graft and are going to try to re graft.

If you were to plant on contour it should reduce erosion potential unless you need to capture and direct water to a particular location or direction.

It may be worth your while to experiment with creating some small shallow swales  that if they succeed they can be extended to cover the are you desire over a multi year time frame. I would think there are charts that show land angle and failure rate based on soil type. At lease measure it so you have a reference for discussion with those who may know better than I . Basically if you take a level and see how much drop in a given distance it can put a number or angle to the word "steep".
 
To decrease erosion potential you could plant as soon as possible after you reform the soil , there are annual rye grasses that come up quick but die with the frost if you want to grow something that is slower to establish on your swales.

To keep you trees alive 1-5 gallons of water a week allowed to slowly soak in like from a milk jug or bucket with some holes in the bottom left near the tree when the soil is dry. 

Slow and steady, a little here a little there may draw the hubby to places where he thought it would be to much to fast.
Hope that helps .