Friday, February 18, 2011

Asberry Acres Forest Garden - The Permaculture Plan

Here's the homestead...
The Grand Plan
Trees and bushes in the plan:
This diagram shows the overstory at full growth and other large features:
  • Small pond - water 'battery' for the soil, different habitat, water for bugs, birds, etc.
  • Beehives (dark blue squares) - want to try Warre hives to encourage hive health over honey production.
  • Trees are in semi-regular pattern to maximize sunlight to the understory and fruit/nut production but not so regular as to look like a typical orchard, plus, I don't have a feel for more 'natural' placement yet.
  • Pears, plums, and apples - seriously considering using dwarf varieties. Would also like peaches, but need more room!
Currently, the land is overgrown with weeds, has an unburnt burn pile (wood), and another two old burn piles with metal and glass pieces in them.This means my first priority will be to clean them up. My second priority will be to either burn or mow the weeds. Burning will do a better job killing the ungerminated weed seeds, but I'm not sure if there's enough dead growth to burn the whole area, however, if there is, I don't want an out of control fire either.

All of the trees and shrubs have been ordered and it'll be my luck for them to all come in at once. I'll create mini-guilds in a 2' radius around each tree. Considering the bad shape that the soil is in, I'll need to bring in a large amount of carbon for amendment. I've had a lot of success with lasagna mulching so I'm going to need to find good sources of cardboard/paper/newspaper, wood chips, and manure. I'm thinking about plowing the entire area and seeding it with clover and alfalfa. Those cover crop plants will start repairing the soil so that I won't need to rely on external inputs as much as the mini-guilds start to expand outward. The bulk clover and alfalfa seeds will be my next big purchase. After that, but before the trees arrive, I need to get mycelial and bacterial inoculant.

With needing to dig the small pond, I'm also considering putting in some tiling as a way to increase the pond's water storage and distribution. Since it's such a big job, I'm going to seek out expert opinion to find out what possible consequences this may have.

The house and shed (not shown) need to have gutters added which I'll then collect into an IBC tote. That water will be for the intensive, raised bed gardens on the south side of the house. So that I don't have too many projects this year, I'll probably run pipes to the beds for a drip irrigation system next year.

Would love to have an outdoor kitchen. Recently saw plans in Mother Earth News for building an oven that I liked. There is no reason to coop up all that heat indoors during the summer.

Next year, or maybe even this fall, would be a good time to put hoops over the raised beds. Longer term I want to build a passive solar greenhouse. Stacking functions, I'm wanting to put a wood-gas generator in there as a Combined-Heat-and-Power (CHP) system. Since wood gas burns cleanly, the exhaust can then be taken in by the plants (with appropriate cautions for humans entering.)

My biggest project is going to be putting in a Gobar gas system. A humanure system might be simpler, but the Gobar gas system creates two useful outputs: methane gas and high quality manure. I've read that the solids output might still contain disease since it's an anaerobic process, however, any issues with that would be quickly solved by composting them.

One glaring issue with this plan is that there is no mention of animals. I know that I definitely want goats and ducks, but since I've spent the last two years focusing on learning about forest gardening I simply haven't had the time to learn what I need to learn. I'm also thinking this is an area for the kids to become expert in.

Well, this is the plan. Now to see how well I execute it!