I'm taking the plunge and moving from a forum lurker to a interactive poster
. It's time I get some advice from an enthusiastic bunch of permies.
Background for me, I live in MN zone 4 in the beautiful st. croix river valley. My wife and I were able to spoil ourselves with a phenomenal 10 acre
property of former horse pasture/mature oak/maple/white pine woods, and have been rehabbing the house for 3 years(we needed all of them).
Now it's time to work on the property and while I have been an enthusiastic gardener and come from a line of farmers and country folk I have been learning the hard way that time and energy
are not infinite and battling deer
, weather, and weeds take time and energy.
I have to admit that I'm most interested in permiculture because I see it as a more efficient system of growing things than typical gardening/farming. I'm a voracious reader and came across this place through other sites/blogs. I'm blown away at the potential of permiculture to revolutionize the way we grow food and live with our natural surroundings.
I'm interested in establishing a system that can help me grow food, rehab my property's woods, and enrich my life by reducing the large amount of time and energy I seem to waste.
For instance I've put some work into a large 50' x 125' garden/orchard only to read that my work was flawed in some way. Raised beds dried out, apples were decimated by disease or deer, too little water
, squash bugs(seriously where did these alien things come from), etc.
I'm hoping I can learn and grow, and again I think
I'm spoiled by the intrinsic resources my property can give me:
Unlimited dead wood
Oak wilt is taking 100 year old red oaks all over my property, I'd love to save them, but many have already fallen or died in just the 3 years, on top of that i have an infestation of buckthorn which blots out the sun for all seedling trees
and low growing plants. I will need to cut down a lot of dead trees and I don't want to burn more than I need to.
I will need to replant the woods after the oaks succumb, there are mature black cherries, hackberry, and some maple but mostly it's dead elm, dying oak, and buckthorn.
I intend to replant with a food forest, the good thing is I'm 30 so I'll hopefully still be around for most anything I can think of to plant to bear
useful plants and trees:
Wild grape, a low growing spreading raspberry groundcover plant, maples for sap, black walnut
If anyone has a use for buckthorn good lord let me know. Better yet how to control it.
A varied topography, hills, pasture, white pine monoculture, oak, shade, sun, low areas, hilltops, even the soil seems to vary based on our proximity to what i assume was a glacial streambed from rocky to loam to sand.
My garden/orchard which was planted with much enthusiasm but little knowledge, but I have a love for the unusual and interesting as well as fruits/berries. As a result I spent whatever time I could in the garden
accumulating a nice selection of plants, shrubs, and trees all behind an 8' fence
to protect them. I assume I can use this as a "basecamp" to proliferate and propagate seedlings and cuttings from. I have a passion for the strange, though at zone 4 my options will always be limited it seems.
First round of questions:
Buckthorn removal permiculturally? I've cut and sprayed, it doesn't seem to work. I have read goats eat it, but will they kill it? Any help would be great. I've noticed boxelder trees seem to be outcompeting it in some spots, but I really don't want to wait on that as a solution.
What to do with the massive amount of oak, elm, and buckthorn wood? I'd leave it standing dead, but it's really dangerous. A 150 year old red oak fell and ripped a 3' around cherry off clean when it crashed. I can't just leave widowmaker trees standing until they all fall. Obviously hugels and firewood
, but maybe there are other uses for such a surplus of large pieces.
Deer immune hedge plants. I hope to surround the property in a living food hedge of some sort. The deer here are voracious, but then they always are aren't they?
I've read Jerusalem artichokes and maximillian sunflowers, I have prickly ash
thickets that seem to be undisturbed. I am going to experiment with osage orange, blackthorn, hawthorn, wild plum, rugosa rose
, and maybe hedge lay boxelder which seem to not be their favorite. I really want to avoid using buckthorn if possible unless there’s a way to control it better.
Propagating, best setup for growing seedlings, easiest seedlings to start, easiest way to grow up cuttings, and easiest way to graft scions. an intro to propagation if you will, I'm assuming there are some species that are just more difficult than others.
I'll have many others, but I'm writing a novel here so thank you in advance and I hope I can soak up the knowledge, spawn interesting discussions, and report back on the results of my endeavor.