Don Givens

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since Aug 05, 2019
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Recent posts by Don Givens

Tyler Ludens wrote:If the land can grow hardwoods (oaks, hickory, etc) those would be preferable to pines as an overstory.



Oh yeah. We've got several hardwoods out here. Some maple, walnut, hickory, birch, oak, poplar, ash.
1 year ago

Erica Colmenares wrote:Just wanted to say that those pictures are so like our land just NW of Nashville (due W of Ashland City). Our house site slope isn't quite as steep, but we're planning on a modified terracing with hugelkultur!



I'm wondering if something like that might be the answer. I just really can't leave it this dense near the house and I'm not sure that simply thinning out a few trees will really accomplish anything. I'm just not sure how to plant if I decide to do terraces. I'm willing to bet that the microclimate mid-way down the slope with trees below removed would be really closer to a USDA zone 8 or 9. With all that southern exposure and the hill itself to hold onto heat.
1 year ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:I envy all the lush beautiful understory you have.  May even be edible native plants in there.



Apparently, my great grandfather used to grow tomatoes in the area now covered in pine trees (the green swath on the map). When he got tired of those, he planted the pine trees because he liked the way they looked. Not really sure about the edibles, mostly sawbriar and the occasional fern. Now that we've begun disturbing the soil and leaf cover by walking around, lots of mushrooms.
1 year ago
Thought I'd add some more pictures. It doesn't look like things are too bad in the winter but then you can see the pictures as I begin to cut in a road and things have changed. Having to clear a path for the county septic inspector.
1 year ago

Dave de Basque wrote:Another thing it all depends on is your longer-term goals. So other than a Zone 1 garden for home consumption, what is your idea or your vision for the rest of the property? What do you want to turn it into?


I hope to eventually run a market garden in addition to the food forest garden. We're about 15 minutes out of Franklin, TN which has a number of excellent restaurants as potential clients in addition to a good farmer's market. This might be a bit of a pipe dream given that I have a full-time job already and am entering a Chaplaincy training program in the spring but there's time to figure it out in the future.

Dave de Basque wrote:As for all the undergrowth, maybe some goats could help? Don't know if animals figure into your plans.


I've thought about it but we do travel at least a few times a year and I don't forsee being able to get pet-sitting for goats at this point. There's the potential that my cousin (and his children) will build on the other end of the property (not shown on the maps) and maybe at that point the kids could be persuaded.

Dave de Basque wrote:Other possible challenges are high winds (so you might want to keep a good buffer of mature trees as a windbreak, and difficult water supply. Among the advantages, of course, is full sun, as long as there's a clearing in amongst the trees of course.


It's funny you should mention water and full sun. We're lilkely going to end up fully off-grid. Water from the closest utility district stops .4 miles up the road. The closest neighbors are doing rainwater and that seems like the best solution to me. With 52" of rain annually, it really shouldn't be a problem. As for power, we're in a rural preservation zone so they've decided that everyone needs to trench in their power lines to preserve the rural aesthetic. Given the nearest place we can catch power is around 2000' and the cost is going to be over $20/foot between materials, trenching, permits, easements and more, solar is looking rather attractive. So the trees nearest the house will be removed anyway which in turn should provide space for the zone 1 operations. I do think I'll put in a pole barn behind the house to use as a workshop and storage, so I think I'll use that roof to collect water for irrigation since it'll be at the top of the ridge. I haven't quite come to a conclusion whether that'll be in a catchment tank or in a pond or some combination thereof.
1 year ago

James Freyr wrote:I want to recommend the book The Resilient Farm and Homestead by Ben Falk. We have a thread about it here: https://permies.com/wiki/20901/Resilient-Farm-Homestead-Ben-Falk



Thanks for the recommendation! I ordered it today.
1 year ago
Thanks for your replies!

So we're a little southwest of Nashville, TN. Zone 6b. According to Google, 52" of rain a year. I'm definitely interested in food production first. No real danger of wildfires. It doesn't get too windy but we do want to stay screened from the road for sure.

I'll follow this instructions to add location now!
1 year ago
Hello all! First post but I've been lurking for a while. So here's what I've got. Wife and I are building a house on some land given to us as a wedding present. It's on the top of a ridge and the house will go on the flat spot. Septic on the hillside closest to the road. The entire hill is a mature forest. We will eventually inherit the property below us which currently belongs to my grandfather. That property extends beyond the picutre here up the hill on the other side of the valley/creek to the freshwater spring over there. There are some nice fields down there (roughly 2 acres each). The attached pictures will hopefully provide some context.  The mature forest is not very productive,  the old trees are really choking out everything. It's basically impossible to walk through the woods at this stage due to the saplings and bramble. We could easily get a little of the zone 1 stuff near the house but zone 2 would be the hillside and forest. So the question is, what to do? I mean, we could slowly clear it all down, create some terraces or swales using a backhoe but would that be worth the effort? It would be relatively easy to drop a food forest in on that field closest to our property and simply cut in a track to get there on a UTV. If we wanted to go ahead with clearing the mature forest, what would be the way to go, start at the top and work down, start at the bottom and work up? The picture is oriented with north up so you can see that slope faces south/southeast. If we start at the top, the new plantings will be shaded by the trees farther down the slope. Furthermore, what would be the planting strategy? The stuff planted downhill would always shade the uphill eventually. I'm just a little lost really and I don't even know where to start. Any help you could offer would be appreciated.
1 year ago