I'm new to the whole permaculture thing, and this is my first post here. I love what I'm reading about food forests, regenerative agriculture, etc. I'd like to implement some of these ideas on some property I just purchased. I'm trying to wrap my brain around the earthworks part of things. I figured someone here might could help with advice, or at least point me in the right direction.
The undeveloped portion of my land is 425'X250'. Its attached to my existing little 125'X130' lot where I have a tiny house. Here is a Google Earth shot of the property. The undeveloped part is below the red line. In the top right corner is my existing house. The top left is my neighbor.
I'm on the Mississippi gulf coast (USA), about 1 mile from the beach, zone 9. The property is very low. We are about 8' above sea level. About 300' east is marsh. The water table is very high. If I dig a 1' hole, it usually has water in the bottom, Most of the ground is this mucky grey clay but sometimes I'll hit some spots with sand in it.
County roads are on three sides of the property, with drainage ditches, but It doesn't seem like it drains very well. It hasn't rained in a week and there is still an inch or so of standing water in some places.
Two homes were destroyed back in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. The land was cleared with a bulldozer, leaving a couple of 100+ year old live oaks (green circle). Now the property has about 10 years of thick wild growth on it.
The blue dot is an old artesian well. It was just a pipe sticking out of the ground back in 2005, but now a tree has grown up around it and at some point, it started flowing again. Its pretty funny because it is just a metal pipe sticking out of a tree and water pouring out. My son calls it "My Dad's Magic Tree." I capped it for now and that area is drying up a bit. I should note that the well is not what keeps the property wet, everything is always wet around here.
It seems all the permiculture stuff I'm reading talks about conserving water, holding water, collecting water, in areas that have little water. I have the opposite situation. I'm just trying to figure out what to do with all this water and how to best utilize it.
Big picture, I'm thinking of re-clearing the land, except for the Live Oaks of course, and planting citrus trees, figs, pears, persimmons, bananas, mayhaw, blueberries, mulberries, and other things; basically a food forest. I already have a small kitchen garden and would like to expand that. I use raised beds with heavy mulch. I also have chickens, and I'm looking into ducks and / or geese.
So my big question here is in regards to typography. If I bring some big equipment in here to clear the land, what would you do in the category of earth works? Most people around here simply grade to slope toward the ditches. I'm wondering if I should do something different. Mounds? Swales? Ditches? I'd hate to plant a ton of trees and then discover later I started out on the wrong foot.
Any help and discussion would be appreciated.