• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
stewards:
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
  • Dave Burton
master gardeners:
  • John F Dean
  • jordan barton
  • Carla Burke
  • Leigh Tate
gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
  • Jay Angler

Help this newbie!!

 
Posts: 5
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I’m a city girl that bought a 10 acre plot in southeast Idaho USDA zone 5 that has the river at the back, a spring fed pond at the front and an acre of marsh that goes across the property close ish to the river. I have no idea how to tell topography or grades of slopes or get how to do swales or any of that - but I am seriously attempting to build a food forest homestead. I am new to the Idaho zone 5 and the short growing season and harsh winters. I’d love to hear from you seasoned pros! Would you grow on both sides of the acre marsh land? It lies north to south. Tips on figuring out my grades? I’m down in a valley from the highway, have a hill and some slopes (the property seems to all slope from the highway[west side] to the river on the east. I tried row gardening the last two years and between ignorance on my part as to seed starting and hardening off , no green house or windows, and my prior failures at keeping the livestock fenced in properly (finally got that figured out!! ) all my fruit and veg amd everything I planted was eaten, trampled, killed or died. Most of the property was an alfalfa field- I have some old plum trees that line a tiny creek, one Russian olive that is in a spot that doesn’t help anything ( behind a culvert at the bottom of one of the driveway slopes where only weeds have ever been growing ) - there is one ornamental crabapple, amd a few tall Juniper trees I think- that are too close to the house for my taste, but are for windbreaks/ anyway I’d love your thoughts and input!! I have some trees, shrubs herbs and vines ordered for spring- but every time I think I have a plan, I second guess myself.
 
gardener
Posts: 1774
Location: Los Angeles, CA
498
hugelkultur forest garden books urban chicken food preservation
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow -- that's a lot of information and a lot of variables, so forgive me if my response is pretty general.

1.  I would start by mapping the property.  Walk it daily, and get a sense for the topography, the slope, the soil, hydrology, moisture, etc.  10 acres is a lot of land, and you will most likely be using only an acre or two (at least initially) to grow your food.  Once you've mapped your property, pick the best spot to start your garden and expand outward from there.

2.  You describe your property as sloping from west to east, so it will get decent morning sun.  Look for a south facing hill with minimal slope for your primary garden and orchard.  Being all the way up in Idaho, you will want to maximize your sun exposure and frost-free days.  A south-facing slope will warm up sooner in spring and stay warmer later into the fall.  But too much slope will make it difficult to work.

3.  Start small and just look to have a couple of wins the first year.  Better to be successful with something small than to try to bite off more than you can chew.  You mention that previous efforts have all been eaten or stomped.  Fencing and other forms of protection are probably your first order of business.  If you can safely contain (for example) a quarter of an acre, (about 100 feet by 100 feet) that would grow a lot of food.

4.  Don't start planting trees until you've got a good sense for how you want the entire property to be laid-out.  The permaculture principle here is that you work in order of greatest permanence.  That means swales and water-features, roads and other hardscaping, and fencing all go in before you establish trees and non-permanent plants.  I wish I had taken a few years to have a better sense of my property before I started dropping trees in the ground.

5.  It's never too soon to start building soil.  Simple strategies like mulching (wood chips, if you can get them), cover-cropping, building compost piles, and raised beds (so you can focus your soil enhancement in a very tightly focused space) are all ways to jump-start your soil.

Best of luck.


 
master steward
Posts: 4834
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1488
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like Marco's suggestion

Walk it daily, and get a sense for the topography, the slope, the soil, hydrology, moisture, etc.  



That is what we did with our 40 acres on top of a mountain.

I also wanted to learn about all my edible vegetation. That how I found permies while looking to ID plants.

I recommend looking at native plants for Idaho.  What native plants are edible? Which ones grow in the shade and which ones grow in the sun? Which ones will grow once established without you having to water them?
 
Posts: 204
Location: Málaga, Spain
48
home care personal care forest garden urban food preservation cooking
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First step in any battle is to reccognize the terrain features. If I were in your place, I'd start by getting the facts.

1. Climate. Learn about your rainfall, temperatures, sun hours, humidity, et cetera, along the year.
2. Know your slopes. Less than 5% is flat, between 5 and 15 % is workable, more than that it's orchard or wilderness type.
3. Earth composition. Pick a few jars and look at the contents of your dirt in several places. Mix your dirt with water and let it decant for 24 hours, then measure layers. Too sandy it will not hold water. Too clayey it will risk flooding.
4. Local species. The local weeds will tell you a lot about your soil, but you have to watch it for a whole year. Which wild animals may be an issue.
5. Water. Watch for streams, potential erosion and good places for water retention. Your land is so big that you could benefit from a pond (or several ones).
6. Winds. Learn about the dominant winds, their risks, and how to prevent them.
7. Fire hazard. Imagine yourself a flame that wants to spread and destroy everything around. Flames love dry organic matter and air, and hate open spaces and water.
8. Interesting features in place. Are there some big rocks? Fences? A well? Pathways? Find them all, and check their current state.
9. Might sound weird, but also try to learn about your surrounding community, where they sell useful stuff, who are skilled people around in case you need to hire someone and who can assist you with the local practices. No one knows the terrain better than the local farmers. You don't have to do things like they do, but their knowledge is golden.
10. Do some 'market reseach', see what you can provide to your community better than what it currently has. Maybe you want to raise pigs, but ducks would sell better. Find out your options for selling your produce.

Once you know what you are really into, then identify what actions are required in order of importance. As Banks says, working first with the more permanent features is wise, but it depends on your budget. Permaculture is about designing in a way that mother Nature makes the biggest part of your work. Think of a plant that thrives in flat land, but you plant it in a sloped terrain, then you have to work a lot to make that plant perform. But if instead of fighting against the nature of your plant, you form terraces out of your slope, then you are providing the conditions that your plant needs to thrive itself. You can select growing species that adapt best to your terrain or you might work on changing your terrain so it can support other species, or both. Constant watering, constant pest control and constant weed removal is fighting against Nature, so if you think you end up doing only that, then you are doing it wrong.

 
master gardener
Posts: 2812
Location: southern Illinois.
750
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You have received some good advice. I lived in nothern MN for a number of years. I think zone 3.  Anyway, get a high tunnel.  It will extend your growing season by 2 months minimum. I have a 12 x 24 or so in southern illinois and love it. I use raised beds 2 ft tall. Composting straw helps to raise the temp a little as does about 200 gallons of water.  In the end. It can handle temps down to about 22 degrees. I am still having fresh salads.
Staff note (John F Dean) :

The fresh salads continued into Feb of 2021 when we got hit with a cold snap.

 
John F Dean
master gardener
Posts: 2812
Location: southern Illinois.
750
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Food for thought ... in the Cleveland area I encountered someone growing fruit trees in a high tunnel of their own design. What caught my attention was how tall it was.  I did not have the opportunity  to discuss how they kept it from over heating in the summer or pollination issues.
 
Tinamarie Maison
Posts: 5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you all so very much! A lot of very much needed and extremely appreciated knowledge and advice!
 
pollinator
Posts: 2352
Location: 4b
598
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The best advice I can give you is to use the permaculture zones.  Start at the house (zone 1) and move outward.  I didn't, and it came back to haunt me and made me start over in a lot of ways.  If you start small and start at the house, you avoid the problem of biting off more then you can chew, jumping around, and by the time you get back to the first thing, it's been overrun by weeds or some other issue.  I have redone the same area several times due to not starting small and working outward.  If you start close to your house, you're much more likely to stay on top of those things as you work outward, simply because you pass them constantly.  You'll also get to enjoy what you did more, for the same reason.  You see those areas every time you leave, and every time you come home.  If you start a guild, for instance, somewhere far from your house and then move onto another project, there is a very good chance you'll end up with a tree that has weeds around it, and little else.  Ten acres is a lot to maintain once it's done.  You may find that you can do everything you want, and are able, to do on an acre or two, and the rest can be minimally maintained, or just left alone and enjoyed.  If that is the case, you'll probably appreciate the acre you "create" being the acre you have the most contact with.
 
Tinamarie Maison
Posts: 5
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So much to think about that I hadn’t known to thick about! Predators, I have a lot of deer, magpies, skunks and voles, lots of other birds. I do have some ducks and a goose and one pond. The pig farming isn’t for me- I tried that but they got so big I couldn’t keep them in. One of my neighbors said when I went to work the hogs would leave my place amd go wandering onto other properties rooting up their places so they ended up in the freezer lol. I ok do the soil I jars test that would be helpful! I’m really not sure how to make the acre marshland into a harmonious feature! So far I’ve seen mullein and poison sumac, lots of cattails, some wild roses, Canadian thistle, dyers wode, and I have yet to identify most other natural plant life. Surrounding areas have lots of sagebrush. I love getting to know the locals, who are all about cattle ranching. I’ve put out feelers for wood chips, saw dust and compost and will be starting my own compost but in the mean time found a place I can get a ton at a time to get that part going. Thank you for reigning me in too- on starting on a smaller scale- I did order quite a bit that I’ll have to plant in spring so I’m sure I did already bite off more than I chew which is sadly kind of my nature- I always jump in with both feet! I was so excited when a light bulb went off when I was trying to figure out what to do about the shady areas under all those junipers surrounding the house and I stumbled across guilds. I absolutely love working with nature rather than fighting the whole way! I’ll get to walking the property more, I’m not sure how to map but I know where the gently slopes are in general, and it always floods in the marsh acre. So much to consider!! Thank you all again!!
 
pollinator
Posts: 584
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
225
dog
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Although this (and much I will mention) has been covered, in my opinion it is THE most critical first step so I am reinforcing "Learn (map) your Land".  

Google earth, find a local pilot or drone flyer, walk the land, search for topography maps....

Set up camera traps to learn who shares the land with you, learn the game trails (avoid gardening in the deer meadow, for example).  Learn the land in all FOUR seasons. Wet in winter could be dry in summer; wind can really shorten your growing season, as can the cast of shadow from nearby trees... Speak to local conservation/Fish and Game type officials to learn which predators/critters are most abundant/likely to cause issues. Ask at your local Feed store who has mastered your lifestyle best, and seek mentor ship on WHAT and HOW stuff grows best in your corner of the world. Try modern applications like FaceBook to see if there are any local permies/hobby/garden farms in close proximity. Sometimes offering free labor in exchange for learning from a local expert is worth it's weight in gold.  

Think about infrastructure such as water and accessibility. Remember you are likely the fittest you will ever be, plan for when age catches up with you and carrying on like. Mountain goat becomes a safety issue.

Make sure your basics are good; clean water and soil, no toxic manufacturing nearby that will drift. Is the home sound? Mold free, snug, structurally sound? Without a safe, solid, comfortable "home base" your challenges are greater.  Make sure you incorporate a plan for natural disaster such as fire, flood, tornado.

Making a massive list sounds daunting, but in the end it will allow you to prioritize what is most critical, and help create a cohesive game plan. This may feel like going backwards in some ways, but think of it more as a course correction, and a way forward that will be the most efficient use of your time and money. I am a huge fan of working smarter, not harder. Best of luck!
 
Tinamarie Maison
Posts: 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Also, you mention permaculture zones- what are they? Never mind I found it
 
Posts: 1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Tinamarie. I am also in SE Idaho and new to permies. We have a few acres we're beginning to build upon. Maybe we can help each other as we learn the ropes. Not sure if we can send a PM to swap contact information. Let me know. Would love to trade seeds and stories with you. -erin
 
Lorinne Anderson
pollinator
Posts: 584
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
225
dog
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Welcome from Canada's "Wet" Coast! On Permies PM's are called "Purple Mooseages" (did I spell that right???)...

Check out the categories (growies, a good place to start) I am sure you can find some seed swappers nearby.
 
Posts: 84
Location: Elk Grove, CA
12
homeschooling kids cooking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tinamarie Maison wrote:I’m really not sure how to make the acre marshland into a harmonious feature!



Lots of good advice thus far and I figured I would give you some thoughts on yer marsh quandary. I haven't seen your particular marsh, but marshes that I have seen have basically been water stuck in place or places where water collects enough to be a marsh, but not enough to be a pond. They don't always have to stay in place and some can be altered and transformed. There is a slight chance that it would be easy and a big chance that it will be a fairly big bite to take. If you are really busy with other projects, you may want to just let it be for now (it's possible that other change to make to the land will affect it in some way if you are going to be changing slopes or adding swales or installing hardscape. If it is in your way and preventing access or causing some other issue, then it's fairly logical to remedy. Can you send the water someplace else? Can you prevent the water from going there? Is there a subterranean cause due to the geology or is it just simple surface drainage or possibly a spring? How do you feel about growing rice? Can you dig it out and transform it into another pond? There are a ton of possibilities and some of them might just become a really fun adventure.

Just a couple more tidbits, farmers/honesteaders quickly become fencing experts, and I highly recommend really good, strong, tight, tall, bulletproof fencing on the perimeter of your property and trying to get away with as little (if any) interior fencing (mostly mobile electric netting for livestock). Don't feed the wild animals and critters and that means fence them out (unless you are trapping/hunting and eating them). Also, If you don't burry a fence at least a foot deep, pigs will usually dig under it (unless they are moved regularly and kept in a temporary place with electric). Tunnel greenhouses (hoop houses) will not only extend the end of your season, but they will also give you a place to get a head start with early seedlings/planting. And I can't "amen" the walk your land comments enough... When I get new land, I walk it every day of the year and record all my observations on how it handles rain, sun, wind, soil tests all over the place, are there temperature variations on different slopes, native vegetation, drainage issues, absolutely everything that will give me clues as to what nature is doing and if there are any easy and logical ways to put that to work for what I want. The land will also let you know what it can do and cannot do and sometimes that changes everything you originally planned to do (nature gets the final say)

And finally, a big "amen" to the take it in little bits/bites (Granted permaculture usually requires a ton of work up front and very little once it's all going), those little steps can help you figure out your particular puzzle while giving you little victories along the way. Before you know it, you'll have it all up and growing and the rest is as easy as picking what you eat. Good luck.
 
Anne Miller
master steward
Posts: 4834
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1488
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Paul said "They don't always have to stay in place and some can be altered and transformed.



I like Paul's advice! If you have a Soil Conservation office where you live there is a possibility they that office can go out to your land and recommend how the best way to handle this.  Often at no charge.

I see two possible options, either make it into a pond or drain it to your lowest corner.  Either way the Soil Conservation will offer what is best for your land.
 
Marco Banks
gardener
Posts: 1774
Location: Los Angeles, CA
498
hugelkultur forest garden books urban chicken food preservation
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Paul Eusey wrote:

Tinamarie Maison wrote:I’m really not sure how to make the acre marshland into a harmonious feature!



Lots of good advice thus far and I figured I would give you some thoughts on yer marsh quandary. I haven't seen your particular marsh, but marshes that I have seen have basically been water stuck in place or places where water collects enough to be a marsh, but not enough to be a pond. They don't always have to stay in place and some can be altered and transformed.



This is one of those things that falls into a bit of a grey area for some people.  Not for me.  Converting a marshy wetland into a pond is admirable and desireable.

At one time, the entire North American continent was inhabited by beavers.  Some estimate that there were upwards of 200 million beavers or more.  They lived by damming streams and creating wetlands.  As a keystone species, beavers are engineers that fundamentally altered the landscape for their purposes.  Your marshland is most likely a former beaver pond.  Century after century, beavers would create these wetlands, and then would abandon them when they'd exhausted the forest that they depended upon for food and shelter.  10 or 20 years later, they'd return to find a re-sprouted forest.  That cycle repeated itself for a millenia or longer.

So today, when some county water conservation person comes along and says, "You can't touch that wetland!  It's protected.", there is an assumption that it has always been that way and it always will remain that way.  That's naive and incorrect. Beavers have been excavating that wet spot forever.  

Some September or October after you've a had a long dry summer, get in there with an excavator and dig yourself a nice pond.  I wouldn't go advertising this to anyone—that's only asking for additional scrutiny.  The soil you dig out will be black and fertile—perfect for raised beds or a garden space  If there is a clear direction that the water flows across the area, leave some of the wetland above and below your pond to serve as a filter as well as keeping the wetlands nazis off your back.  It doesn't have to be that deep -- perhaps 10 or 15 feet at the most -- but it will create a habitat for fish, ducks, and other aquadic life that do not currently use the marsh.  A piece of heavy equipment like that can be rented for about $1000 to $2000 a day.  You may also need a truck to haul away the soil.  But it's worth the investment.

Then stock the pond with fish that thrive in your area.  Mmmm . . . fresh fish.
 
The only cure for that is hours of television radiation. And this tiny ad:
Where To Start With Permaculture? (Free Online Class)
https://permaresilience.com/free-online-class
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic