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How to do permaculture when you live in an actual forest ..

 
gardener
Posts: 218
Location: East Beaches area of Manitoba, Zone 3
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Hi there ...

I have been a long-time lurker here on these forums but have never posted. Excited to finally join this community! Your posts have been so helpful in figuring out EVERYTHING! I feel like I've been here for a long time just from researching these forums so much.

I am seeking any wisdom or advice you might have concerning what to do with our property. My husband and I live on a 3/4 acre property that is woodlands, located in an actual forest. We have a (messy, uneven, slanted) front yard that has over  four 40-feet poplar trees growing. The backyard has been mostly swamp and then forest, a mix of mostly poplars and evergreen trees.

For the first years on the land, we were both busy all I did was put flowers in the front yard and mow the lawn in front. The backyard was mostly "weeds" and swamp. Three years ago, I tried to put a garden into the ground in the back and lost everything but the tomatoes and peppers in containers and a few potatoes.  I honestly couldn't keep up with the weeds -- they were so huge. We did till the next year and the weeds were even worse.

I learned about hugel mounds from a friend and that was good because it helped to dry up some of the marsh in the back but all I planted in them was potatoes.

Finally, this year, I am taking it more seriously and really trying to do something with our land (with the big help of my husband.)
We created one (almost two) more huge hugel mounds from fallen trees and branches and have planted vegetables in the one, covering it in mulch. I will plant vegetables in the other one once it is done.

To do that, we pulled up a big bunch of poplars and wild raspberry in one of the only sunny spots on our land. I watch all these videos on Youtube saying, "I built a food forest in my front yard," but I'm on the opposite end with already having a forest but not a food forest.

I have been studying the ideas and strategies for permaculture and food forests but have seen almost nothing about what to do if you start with a forest.

I get overwhelmed because there is so much diversity and vegetation, which is good, but it's out of control. I know not to till again and I want to respect the land but where do you draw the line? I don't know the balance between respecting the land and having no control.

I would appreciate any thoughts or hearing others' experience. Thank you so much in advance.
 
pollinator
Posts: 100
Location: South Louisiana, 8B
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I don't have any experience or answers for you, but this book (Farming the Woods) will have lots of ideas: https://farmingthewoods.com/
 
pollinator
Posts: 485
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
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I would say it starts with lots and lots of observation. My US residence is mostly forested as well. For me Permaculture has been learning to identify every native tree, plant, and its uses. The first of Holmgren's principles is "observe and interact". You say there's lots of diversity--good! There's a good amount of food in there. One of the best ways to interact with any system is to master foraging it before you try to cultivate it. The evergreens you mention, most any pine and fir tree is good for making teas, tinctures--and pickled pine blossoms!

I would start with getting a plant ID app (I use "picture this") and become a master of the resources that are already there. Take walks, not just on your own property, but other properties throughout your area to see what the possibilities are, and get a book on local flora. There are understory food species if you know what the natives are.

Where are you located? Or atleast your agricultural zone? This will make a big difference. Can you start a sugar bush by planting maples? Do you eat meat? What can you hunt and trap? I know from your description that you could produce copious mushrooms to eat and sell. Can you heat your house with the wood from your property? Plenty of permies produce lots of food but still have to pay to heat their house. Your resources are just of a different category than others. Though you could raise foraging animals. Chickens, if you don't have coyotes. Pigs could be paddocked through the woods. Your resources are going to be more in the "woodland survival" category than conventional gardening and farming. But resources are there.

Do you have Holmgren's book "Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability"? I think getting his categories in the subconscious will help to see what the possibilities are.

Good luck and keep us posted!
 
master steward
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Welcome to permies, Shari! I totally hear you about the "overwhelm", particularly when it also involves a lot of shade.

It would really help if you gave us some indication of what your soil is like - clay/sand/rocky with lots or little organic matter.  Also some indication of your garden zone which at least gives us some idea of your likely temperature extremes.

I agree with Nathanael about working on identifying what's already on your land and the land around you. 3/4 acres inside a forest is not that big of a clearing. Identifying parts of it as "swampy" could mean many things, one being to look at potential water plants that are edible, such as cattails, and actually encouraging part of the land to be wet year round.

I'm glad you've figured out the hugel beds and are getting some useful food from them. You mention overwhelming weeds, but an amazing number of weeds are actually edible if you identify them and search for recipes that tell you how to cook the ones you have. At the very least, many of them will build your soil if you find ways to manage them. The type of weed can also give you hints as to what crops might do well. Just this year I learned that Fawn Lily (Erythronium) are edible and were considered a food crop by the local Indigenous People. There are different varieties growing all across Canada, and they certainly like forested areas.

The big danger of living within a "forest" is the ever increasing risk of wild fire. It would be good to asses that risk, identify the most likely direction it would come from if that's possible, and consider ways to "fire proof" your buildings and property. Hugels could potentially redirect a fire for instance.

You mention poplar trees in your front yard. They are a pioneer tree and only live about 50 years. How old do you think yours are? Removing those and replacing them with something that produces food such as fruit or nut trees might be an option. If you want your front lawn to look "pretty", there are some great ideas about "edible landscaping" which works with a permaculture approach. For example, I grow Day Lilies in my front bed and the pods and shoots are great added to stir fries.

What sort of wild "friends" will you need to cope with? I'd also work on learning that. Just because you don't see them on your land, as they say, "if you build it, they will come." That would certainly include racoon, deer, squirrels and many others, depending on your plant choices!
 
steward
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Even if you already have the forest part of the "food forest" you still can work on some of the other layers.

You have wild raspberries so that could be the "shrub" layer and the existing forest is the Tall layer.

Plant some vining plants along the edges and then a ground cover area. Find some sunny spots for vines. I don't have vining suggestions other than maybe some scarlet runner beans or some other vining beans.  For the ground cover, plant some hostas because they are pretty, hostas come in lots of patterns, and hostas are edible.

For the swampy area, if that were my land I would pile anything I could find to increase the volume of land vs water.  I would use grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, vegetable peelings, and anything that would break down.  Sort of like a large compost pile.

Best wishes for a lovely food forest.
 
Posts: 1010
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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In Permaculture there's the saying, "The problem is the solution."  I wish it would say, "Permaculture has a solution for what you think is a problem."

I second the observation of what is already doing well there, and what does well in your area with native plants.  Surrounding your vegetables and fruit with native plants that bring in good beneficial insects.  Just give everybody enough room.   Sounds like the hugel mounds are working well, good move there.  

Regarding the swampy ground water, is your backyard higher or lower than your front yard?  Is the water running from one yard to the other via under your house, or is it running crosswise across the backyard?  Are you concerned at all about it running under your foundation?  

No. 1 issue is make sure that water is not affecting your foundation.  Don't slow it down with swales.  It doesn't sound like you need to keep any of it.  You don't want to saturate the soil around your foundation.   Maybe consult an engineer or landscaper if you need to drain that water off to the side with perforated pipe.  You don't want to send it into your neighbor's yard and cause them issues.

Try not to plant anything too close to your foundation, since just watering vegetables will add to that wet soil and possible mold getting into your siding or walls.  Check your roof for moss, and clean it off regularly.  Use it for mulch.

Establish wide paths where it's most convenient to walk, it's really nice to walk side by side and to have enough room for a wheelbarrow and you.  Line the paths with bark chips or woodchips if you can get them, since roots also go under paths and will benefit from fungi created by the woodchips.  Have at least one sitting area out in the garden, a "destination" away from the house.  Try to use it!! Ha!  (that's my problem!)

Mowing or string-trimming the weeds will turn it all into mulch.  Try to do it before they get seed heads.  It doesn't get rid of them, but think of it as harvesting mulch.  The roots in the ground with break down into good organic matter.   Rake it into place around the roots of plants, but not against the trunks or stems.

Since you've got a lot of shade, try to plant vegetables that will do well in the shade.  There are tons of types of tomatoes, and you might have to find some that are not the regular ones at the store.  Online tomato specialty websites often group them in what they can tolerate.   Cherry tomatoes are more forgiving.  Starting them from seeds, indoors, is easy.  Greens do well in the shade, lots of good ones, even if they get a bit rangy, cut them as baby leaves and they will grow back a couple times.  They still have the nutrition.

If you want to soak up that water, plant perennial fruits that will soak it up, like raspberries and blackberries on wires (easier to care for,) gummi berries, sambucas, fruiting shrubs that do well in a damp forest environment.  These can get quite big, so give them room for you to mow/string-trim around and for them to spread out.   Check for Zone requirements and chill hours for fruit, although trees are more touchy about ground water.  

For everyone it's a constant, ongoing process and not everything works.  That's what this journey is, to try to see what works for us in our very specific spots.  Don't be too hard on yourself.

:-)

 
Jay Angler
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Cristo Balete wrote:

Mowing or string-trimming the weeds will turn it all into mulch.  Try to do it before they get seed heads.  It doesn't get rid of them, but think of it as harvesting mulch.  

Actually, if you start to see the weeds as "part of the solution", leaving some to seed is a great way to attract helpful birds to your land. Many of the seed eaters are also bug eaters.

And wrote:

Have at least one sitting area out in the garden, a "destination" away from the house.  Try to use it!! Ha!  (that's my problem!)

I just couldn't resist...
comfy-chicken-bench.jpg
I have a bin to hold a clean cushion to sit on when it's *my* turn to sit on the bench!
I have a bin to hold a clean cushion to sit on when it's *my* turn to sit on the bench!
 
Posts: 24
Location: Whitehall, Michigan, Zone 6a very sandy soil
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As with most endeavors in life, I think it would be important to set a goal here. Decide what you want to get from your land, as specifically as possible. Then, using the observation and other techniques mentioned above, you'll notice what nature will allow you to do, which will likely lead to a compromise between what is there now and what your goal is.

I've found the easiest way to get rid of weeds is to plant something that will outcompete them when given a slight advantage by you. For example, market gardeners use the "stale seedbed method" where they cover a bed with a tarp after cultivating, encouraging weed seeds to germinate, which then die because they have no access to light. Then the desired vegetable crop is planted, which now has an advantage over the weeds, which have to recolonize the bed. Keeping the soil covered, either by mulch or by plants at all times really is the key to fighting unwanted plants (weeds) in my opinion.

For your situation, I think your compromise lies with perennial food plants that don't mind having "wet feet", meaning they tolerate or even thrive with roots that are constantly wet. Cranberries and blueberries fit this description. Another option may be to plant some trees that have HUGE water needs, and may be able to soak up the excess water. Willow (either large single specimens, or a hedge of smaller bushy ones), alder, etc. are examples of this, and may be able to help transform the landscape without you having to do anything else.

In the short term, raised beds are the obvious choice to allow you to grow your annual veggies, either hugel beds or beds just built up with soil, either way, being higher than the surrounding ground will make the beds drier.

I think once you decide on your goals, you can either look to change the situation or decide to work with it, but you definitely have options. Taking just a little bit at a time will for sure help reduce the overwhelm factor, but you'll certainly be able to see progress before long.
 
Posts: 21
Location: Laurentians, Quebec, Zone 4b
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Hi Shari, and welcome!

Your land sounds quite a bit like mine: I'm based in the Laurentian mountains, and my property is also slanted, heavily forested, with "swampy" bits here and there. I've been here for a decade now, and although I'm still working on my land (and likely will be forever), I can share some of the things I've done to cultivate my food forest.

As others have suggested, making the problem the solution works REALLY well. For example, those swampy areas are ideal for cattails (as mentioned), as well as cranberries, flowering rushes that have edible tubers, (Butomus umbellatus), watercress, and lotuses.

I took down most of my poplars as well, and have been replacing them with indigenous edibles: this bridges the gap between "taming" the forest, and preserving it. For example, beech trees with pawpaws, raspberries, and medicinal flowering plants as understories. In fact, the best luck we've had with edibles has been with those that are from this region. For instance, our Jerusalem artichokes and Algonquin pumpkins fare far better than the introduced Solanaceae plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and the like.

Hugelkultur mounds are ideal as well! We only have a few of those at the moment but gardening is a perpetual endeavour, right?
 
Shari Clark
gardener
Posts: 218
Location: East Beaches area of Manitoba, Zone 3
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Hey everyone! I am so sorry that it took me almost a year to reply to all the wonderful replies on this post but a very belated "Thank You" to all the useful replies to my post. I got overwhelmed last year and didn't come back to reply but felt bad that I hadn't. I will now reply individually but wanted to just do a global "Thanks so much!" for all your kind replies.
 
Shari Clark
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90
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Jake Esselstyn wrote:I don't have any experience or answers for you, but this book (Farming the Woods) will have lots of ideas: https://farmingthewoods.com/



Thanks so much for the recommendation. It looks like a very interesting book. A bit expensive for me right now but if I could find it somewhere for cheaper, I would definitely consider it.
 
Shari Clark
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Location: East Beaches area of Manitoba, Zone 3
90
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Nathanael Szobody wrote: There's a good amount of food in there. One of the best ways to interact with any system is to master foraging it before you try to cultivate it. The evergreens you mention, most any pine and fir tree is good for making teas, tinctures--and pickled pine blossoms!



Nathanael, thanks so much! I love the ideas for using the pine and fir trees for teas and tinctures. I did make some pine needle tea, which is supposed to be great for flu-type illnesses. The pickled pine blossoms is totally new to me! And I love the idea of foraging your own land. I have been doing that some, for sure, with stinging nettles, goutweed and this year, fiddleheads.

Where are you located? Or atleast your agricultural zone? This will make a big difference. Can you start a sugar bush by planting maples? Do you eat meat? What can you hunt and trap? I know from your description that you could produce copious mushrooms to eat and sell. Can you heat your house with the wood from your property? Plenty of permies produce lots of food but still have to pay to heat their house. Your resources are just of a different category than others. Though you could raise foraging animals. Chickens, if you don't have coyotes. Pigs could be paddocked through the woods. Your resources are going to be more in the "woodland survival" category than conventional gardening and farming. But resources are there.



I am located in Zone 3 in Canada. My husband is Treaty (First Nations) so technically, he could hunt but neither one of us have the stomach to kill animals ourselves. We tend to buy our wood but I am hoping we could harvest some wood this year from our property. Regarding the sap thing, I think we might have some sap trees but I need to learn about that, too. Always so much to learn! Yes, interesting idea to look in the "woodland survival" category for ideas. Love that thought! Thanks for the inspiration!

 
Jay Angler
master steward
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Shari Clark wrote:Thanks so much for the recommendation. It looks like a very interesting book. A bit expensive for me right now but if I could find it somewhere for cheaper, I would definitely consider it.

May I suggest you try 'cultivating' the staff at your local library? I've convinced my library to buy some permaculture-based, environmentally sound books on several occasions, partly by stressing how useful they would be for the community at large.

Permaculture can help fire-proof neighborhoods by working with nature, so with wildfires very much in the news at the moment, that's an approach I might try.

Aside - this way I don't have to store all the books I'd like to read. I'm currently reading a book about repairing the landscape with Beavers and just finished an excellent children's book about trees (review here: https://permies.com/wiki/217365/Hear-Trees-Talking-Peter-Wohlleben ) both from my Regional Library system.
 
Shari Clark
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Jay Angler wrote:

It would really help if you gave us some indication of what your soil is like - clay/sand/rocky with lots or little organic matter.  Also some indication of your garden zone which at least gives us some idea of your likely temperature extremes.
n my front bed and the pods and shoots are great added to stir fries.



The soil is mostly clay with a lot of organic material because of the trees and all the weeds. We had a foundation guy tell us the reason for the swampiness is because of all the organic matter from the trees.

3/4 acres inside a forest is not that big of a clearing. Identifying parts of it as "swampy" could mean many things, one being to look at potential water plants that are edible, such as cattails, and actually encouraging part of the land to be wet year round.



I like what you say about having permanent wetlands and there is a little area where our well is that is what could be called permanent wetlands. We have marsh marigolds that grow there and they are beautiful. That area also acts as a watering hole for our dog.

I'm glad you've figured out the hugel beds and are getting some useful food from them. You mention overwhelming weeds, but an amazing number of weeds are actually edible if you identify them and search for recipes that tell you how to cook the ones you have. At the very least, many of them will build your soil if you find ways to manage them. The type of weed can also give you hints as to what crops might do well. Just this year I learned that Fawn Lily (Erythronium) are edible and were considered a food crop by the local Indigenous People. There are different varieties growing all across Canada, and they certainly like forested areas.



Yes, I am trying to use as many weeds as possible and I love your ideas for looking at what other fauna might grow well here, based on what is already growing here. I am already trying to forage stinging nettles and goutweed. This year, I am trying out fiddleheads, which are delicious!

You mention poplar trees in your front yard. They are a pioneer tree and only live about 50 years. How old do you think yours are? Removing those and replacing them with something that produces food such as fruit or nut trees might be an option. If you want your front lawn to look "pretty", there are some great ideas about "edible landscaping" which works with a permaculture approach. For example, I grow Day Lilies in my front bed and the pods and shoots are great added to stir fries.

What sort of wild "friends" will you need to cope with? I'd also work on learning that. Just because you don't see them on your land, as they say, "if you build it, they will come." That would certainly include racoon, deer, squirrels and many others, depending on your plant choices!



Interesting about the poplars! I am not sure how old but they are very tall, maybe 30 feet? They grow like weeds here and we are constantly getting rid of new ones. I love the idea of "edible landscaping" and would need to look into that. As far as "wild friends," our dog mostly takes care of anything big. I don't mind the squirrels and encourage her to "be nice to the squirrels." She is a great pyrenees and definitely scares off anything bigger. She even scares off big birds like eagles, which I don't like because sometimes the cats go outside.

Thanks so much for your input and ideas. That was very helpful!

 
Shari Clark
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Jay Angler wrote: May I suggest you try 'cultivating' the staff at your local library? I've convinced my library to buy some permaculture-based, environmentally sound books on several occasions, partly by stressing how useful they would be for the community at large.

Permaculture can help fire-proof neighborhoods by working with nature, so with wildfires very much in the news at the moment, that's an approach I might try.



Great idea! I should check first. I do know our local librarian and know she's definitely into nature, so I think she'd be very open to that. We do have a provincial library system, so I should check to see if she could get it in. Thanks!
 
Shari Clark
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Anne Miller wrote:Even if you already have the forest part of the "food forest" you still can work on some of the other layers.

Plant some vining plants along the edges and then a ground cover area. Find some sunny spots for vines. I don't have vining suggestions other than maybe some scarlet runner beans or some other vining beans.  For the ground cover, plant some hostas because they are pretty, hostas come in lots of patterns, and hostas are edible.

For the swampy area, if that were my land I would pile anything I could find to increase the volume of land vs water.  I would use grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, vegetable peelings, and anything that would break down.  Sort of like a large compost pile.

Best wishes for a lovely food forest.



Thanks so much for this! These are lovely ideas. I had been thinking of putting wood chips into the swamp, so this is great confirmation that my ideas are on the right track. Grass clippings and leaves are perfect, too! I do have a great source for extra leaves, besides the ones that pile up in our own yard.

I love the vine idea, too. I want to plant peas, so this is a great idea to think about where to plant them. Can I ask why plant the vines on the edge? Thank you in advance!
 
Anne Miller
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Shari Clark wrote:I love the vine idea, too. I want to plant peas, so this is a great idea to think about where to plant them. Can I ask why plant the vines on the edge? Thank you in advance!



My thinking was that there is more sun on the edge of a forest.

Though there are shade-loving or shade-tolerant vines, such as Arctic Kiwi, Schisandra, maypop passionfruit, scarlet runner beans, etc.
 
Shari Clark
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Cristo Balete wrote:

 Regarding the swampy ground water, is your backyard higher or lower than your front yard?  Is the water running from one yard to the other via under your house, or is it running crosswise across the backyard?  Are you concerned at all about it running under your foundation?  

No. 1 issue is make sure that water is not affecting your foundation.  Don't slow it down with swales.  It doesn't sound like you need to keep any of it.  You don't want to saturate the soil around your foundation.   Maybe consult an engineer or landscaper if you need to drain that water off to the side with perforated pipe.  You don't want to send it into your neighbor's yard and cause them issues.

Establish wide paths where it's most convenient to walk, it's really nice to walk side by side and to have enough room for a wheelbarrow and you.  Line the paths with bark chips or woodchips if you can get them, since roots also go under paths and will benefit from fungi created by the woodchips.  Have at least one sitting area out in the garden, a "destination" away from the house.  Try to use it!! Ha!  (that's my problem!)

Mowing or string-trimming the weeds will turn it all into mulch.  Try to do it before they get seed heads.  It doesn't get rid of them, but think of it as harvesting mulch.  The roots in the ground with break down into good organic matter.   Rake it into place around the roots of plants, but not against the trunks or stems.



Thank you so much. Regarding the water, it is very far from our foundation in the backyard. The house is high is built on built-up land and then slopes down both in the front and backyard. All of the marsh is in the back and side yards. We have three hugel mounds in the back now and it is gathered between them. It is also on the side of the driveway and around the well.

I did take your advice about the mulch on paths and we do have some paths around the hugel mounds lined with woodchips. It makes it look so nice! I love the comment about the weeds, too. We basically have been string-trimming them and it's good to know that that eventually becomes mulch.

 
Shari Clark
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Jay Angler wrote: Actually, if you start to see the weeds as "part of the solution", leaving some to seed is a great way to attract helpful birds to your land. Many of the seed eaters are also bug eaters.



That's interesting! I've noticed more birds this spring and it's great to be reminded that they do eat bugs.
 
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Jonathan Hodges wrote:As with most endeavors in life, I think it would be important to set a goal here. Decide what you want to get from your land, as specifically as possible. Then, using the observation and other techniques mentioned above, you'll notice what nature will allow you to do, which will likely lead to a compromise between what is there now and what your goal is.

I've found the easiest way to get rid of weeds is to plant something that will outcompete them when given a slight advantage by you. For example, market gardeners use the "stale seedbed method" where they cover a bed with a tarp after cultivating, encouraging weed seeds to germinate, which then die because they have no access to light. Then the desired vegetable crop is planted, which now has an advantage over the weeds, which have to recolonize the bed. Keeping the soil covered, either by mulch or by plants at all times really is the key to fighting unwanted plants (weeds) in my opinion.

For your situation, I think your compromise lies with perennial food plants that don't mind having "wet feet", meaning they tolerate or even thrive with roots that are constantly wet. Cranberries and blueberries fit this description. Another option may be to plant some trees that have HUGE water needs, and may be able to soak up the excess water. Willow (either large single specimens, or a hedge of smaller bushy ones), alder, etc. are examples of this, and may be able to help transform the landscape without you having to do anything else.

In the short term, raised beds are the obvious choice to allow you to grow your annual veggies, either hugel beds or beds just built up with soil, either way, being higher than the surrounding ground will make the beds drier.

I think once you decide on your goals, you can either look to change the situation or decide to work with it, but you definitely have options. Taking just a little bit at a time will for sure help reduce the overwhelm factor, but you'll certainly be able to see progress before long.



Thank you so much for this great comment. I did not reply in a timely matter but did take it to heart. I love your comment that a goal is important. That really made me think.

And I love the comment about getting something to outgrow whatever is presently growing somewhere. That makes a lot of sense. We now have more hugel mounds ( a form of natural raised beds) and four big raised beds made from recycled materials. As much as I would love to plant directly in the ground, it is still very challenging to do so at this point.
 
Shari Clark
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Catherine Winter wrote:Hi Shari, and welcome!

Your land sounds quite a bit like mine: I'm based in the Laurentian mountains, and my property is also slanted, heavily forested, with "swampy" bits here and there. I've been here for a decade now, and although I'm still working on my land (and likely will be forever), I can share some of the things I've done to cultivate my food forest.

As others have suggested, making the problem the solution works REALLY well. For example, those swampy areas are ideal for cattails (as mentioned), as well as cranberries, flowering rushes that have edible tubers, (Butomus umbellatus), watercress, and lotuses.

I took down most of my poplars as well, and have been replacing them with indigenous edibles: this bridges the gap between "taming" the forest, and preserving it. For example, beech trees with pawpaws, raspberries, and medicinal flowering plants as understories. In fact, the best luck we've had with edibles has been with those that are from this region. For instance, our Jerusalem artichokes and Algonquin pumpkins fare far better than the introduced Solanaceae plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and the like.

Hugelkultur mounds are ideal as well! We only have a few of those at the moment but gardening is a perpetual endeavour, right?



Catherine, thanks so much for the great comment and sorry I took so long to respond. Your land does sound a lot like ours.  That's neat that you have found local alternatives that also work as food. Those poplars can be so awful, can't they? We still have lots but did fell a few of the "weed poplars" to make room for four big raised beds. Yes, the hugel mounds seem to be helping, for sure, although they weed up so quickly, and that is a constant battle. Thanks again!
 
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I recommend checking out Sean at Edible Acres.
He is not in a zone as cold as yours, but he grows in wooded areas and deals with lots of water.

I also suggest the folks at the Wilderstead.
They are Canadian homesteaders who do a lot of foraging and do things on a shoes string
https://youtu.be/_2GWpxAw1e4
 
Shari Clark
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William Bronson wrote:I recommend checking out Sean at Edible Acres.
He is not in a zone as cold as yours, but he grows in wooded areas and deals with lots of water.

I also suggest the folks at the Wilderstead.
They are Canadian homesteaders who do a lot of foraging and do things on a shoes string
https://youtu.be/_2GWpxAw1e4



Thanks, William, I just noticed this. I will do!
 
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:I would say it starts with lots and lots of observation. My US residence is mostly forested as well. For me Permaculture has been learning to identify every native tree, plant, and its uses. The first of Holmgren's principles is "observe and interact". You say there's lots of diversity--good! There's a good amount of food in there. One of the best ways to interact with any system is to master foraging it before you try to cultivate it. The evergreens you mention, most any pine and fir tree is good for making teas, tinctures--and pickled pine blossoms!



I like this suggestion.  That is how I found the forum, trying to ID all my plants and trees.

Nathanael said "Do you have Holmgren's book "Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability"? I think getting his categories in the subconscious will help to see what the possibilities are.



This is a great recommendation.

 
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Shari thank you for posting this topic. I am seeking similar information as I live on 2+ forested acres, much of it sloped.
I ordered the book "Farming the Woods" based on a recommendation in a similar discussion in 'Woodlands'.
The book provided the information I have been seeking for a long time. It gives me hope that I can at some point add features (walking trail, setting areas, wildlife viewing station) as well as introduce some food gardening to the forest setting.
I do have one spot facing the road that splits my property, a slope already open with Southern exposure. I am researching possible terraced planting beds. I would need to install fencing around and over them as we have deer, and wild turkey.
We have a number mature hardwoods and pine. There are many spindly young trees I am thinking of culling to increase dappled sunlight and / or plant select fruit trees. Considering a few mushroom beds / logs. May start sending the utility area with wildflowers of our region for the bees.
I have researched raising quail for eggs where one can have a safe, climate controlled coop and run.
Thank you again for the post. I gleaned much helpful information from the responses.
 
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Catherine Winter wrote:Hi Shari, and For example, those swampy areas are ideal for cattails (as mentioned), as well as cranberries, flowering rushes that have edible tubers, (Butomus umbellatus), watercress, and lotuses.

I took down most of my poplars as well, and have been replacing them with indigenous edibles: this bridges the gap between "taming" the forest, and preserving it. For example, beech trees with pawpaws, raspberries, and medicinal flowering plants as understories. In fact, the best luck we've had with edibles has been with those that are from this region. For instance, our Jerusalem artichokes and Algonquin pumpkins fare far better than the introduced Solanaceae plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and the like.



I have been successful at growing Jerusalem artichokes and edibles tubers are a great suggestion I will borrow! They produce beautiful flowers and the tubers are so tasty!!! There may be pawpaws at the bottom of my property by a small creek, but I will have to get in shape and cut a trail down there. The lower part of my property is STEEP. LOL.

I have a few poplars as well and may consider taking those down (and reusing how I can) to open up the possibilities. Many thanks.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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