Ask a Question forum: New 3 acre lot

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Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
May 4, 2015 2:30 PM CST
Hello! We made an offer on a house with three heavily wooded acres (fingers crossed!). I love all of the land, but need help on where to start to grow veges. There is a small patch of sun about 30x30, but I want to double that. Where do I start? Obviously small.

I want to employ permaculture in all I do. Has anyone done a food forest? Thanks! Say a prayer if you are that kind of person.

Thanks!
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Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
May 4, 2015 2:35 PM CST
Fingers crossed and a prayer said you get the house! 30x30 is a good start. My best advice is to not try to do all of it at once. Build it slowly. Before you know it you'll have a gorgeous garden.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
May 4, 2015 2:49 PM CST

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Congratulations on the upcoming property buy!! Hurray!

I'd consider taking a couple trees out. Sunlight is so important for vegetables and removing some trees will really help you a lot. That hillside is screaming for some hugelkultur swales. Smiling
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
May 4, 2015 7:17 PM CST
Fingers crossed! Wishing you good fortune.

Shrug! Which thread had that formula for shade/angle of sun/latitude, etc.? (Just sounds like a @RickCorey thing, doesn't it? Rolling on the floor laughing )
It might help to know which trees should be removed to afford the most sun to the correct garden area.
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Name: Reine
Porter, Texas (Zone 9a)
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Reine
May 4, 2015 9:02 PM CST
Praying you get this lot. God bless.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
May 5, 2015 12:36 PM CST
Good luck!

My policy for figuring sun angles is amateur-hour, not computation-intensive. I wait for the relevant season to roll around, then look at the shadows, morning noon and evening. If I want to make a window "more sunny in winter" or "shadier during summer afternoons", I look and think in the relevant season. (I don;t visualize geometry or angles easily.)

The winter sun might not get very high in the sky, even at noon, but I think winter is when the east-and-west sun angle becomes broader (the sun rises farther to the east and sets farther to the west in winter than in summer - or do I have that backwards?)

But I don't think you'll go too far wrong removing trees or big branches that are south of your new bed (unless you fear a fierce noon-time sun).

Removing trees (or low branches or even bushes) that are south-east of your bed should give you more (low) morning sun. I think that would be a big advantage for a cold-frame or a sheltered hardening-off bed, or early-early spring crops like peas.

Removing trees (or low branches or even bushes) that are south-west of your bed should give you more (low) late-afternoon sun. That should be helpful to heat-loves like tomatoes, peppers or eggplant.

LEAVING some afternoon shade might be good for a bed full of cool-weather late-spring crops, extending their season into late spring or summer, depending on how hot your early summers get.

Personally, I dread tree roots as much as I dread shade. If you have three whole acres, maybe appreciate the trees in two of those acres, with footpaths or even a chair or bench, but appreciate full-sun-veggy-beds in the acre nearest the house!

springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
May 5, 2015 1:05 PM CST
You will probably be unsuccessful at growing veggies or sun loving flowers until you remove some trees. Also depending on what type of trees they are, they will root vigorously into your garden pretty quickly when they notice you are watering fertilizing and enriching the soil. Maples, mimosa, willows, maybe gum trees? these will all root into the beds.
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
May 5, 2015 1:28 PM CST
Prayers said for you and a beautiful lot.

I agree, you will need sun for your veggies and the tree roots will get into your garden. I absolutely love trees but they won't do well for your veggie garden.

Rick said it perfectly in his last paragraph. Thumbs up
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
May 5, 2015 5:23 PM CST
I agree Sadly a 30 X 30 patch of sun isn't going to do you a whole lot of good, since that patch will move with the sun angle, and your veggies need at least 6 hours of full sun per day up there in the northern tier. I think a long strip with southern exposure would gain you the most in the way of useable space. i.e. clear out trees to the south, east and west of the present open patch, and plant on the south side of that space as far away from the trees as you possibly can.

The edges of that patch will also be full of tree roots - don't forget most trees have roots out at least as far as the branches reach (cutting back the branches doesn't make the roots go away . . . Big Grin ) As soon as you start amending soil, watering and fertilizing, those tree roots will just say "Yum, yum" and invade your beds.

Raised beds would make a lot of sense, too since even after you take out the trees you'll be fighting the roots for quite a while when you dig. The soil will be quite depleted from growing all those trees for years and years, too.

Another consideration is water supply - how close is the nearest water faucet to that area you want to grow?

Also, there are very likely deer and rabbits amongst other wildlife, so you'll need to consider fencing - really HIGH fencing! So the smaller, more efficient use you can make of your sunny space, the less work and cost it will hit you with.

How about starting out with some Earth Boxes? You can set them up on cinder blocks, so there's no issue with tree roots. You can also move them as the sunny area moves, and they're extremely productive in a small space. Also amazingly water-efficient. I know it's almost sacrilege to suggest not using "the land" but in areas with limited space, water and especially for you up in Minnesota, a very short season, it makes sense to at least get started with something that is going to work with what you have. You'd maybe need to take out fewer trees, too. All in all buying Earth Boxes might be more cost effective than removing trees, digging roots, amending soil and fencing in a huge area.

You could fence the sunny area you have, and plant your boxes for this summer, then spend all summer removing trees, digging roots and planning the bigger picture. You'll still get a harvest this year that way.

I can't guarantee you won't be simply hooked on the Earth Boxes by the time you have a bigger area cleared, though. It's a truly excellent growing system. [url=www.earthbox.com]www.earthbox.com[/url]
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
May 5, 2015 5:31 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:...
Another consideration is water supply - how close is the nearest water faucet to that area you want to grow?


That's a good point, especially with tree roots actively sucking water away from your bed.

However, if you don't mind running a 1/2" or 3/4" irrigation line out to the bed, you can have as many spigots near the bed as you want: enough for driplines, sprayers, or hand-watering nozzles on garden hoses.

Those lines are surprisingly cheap. If you pay for your water, the savings in water usage from drippers on a timer might pay you back for the irrigation gadgets in just a few years.

http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/1246/More-Spigots-Equ...

1/2" mainline $16 / 100 feet - - - up to 240 GPH = 4 gallons per minute
3/4" mainline: $32 / 100 feet - - - up to 480 GPH = 8 gallons per minute

Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
May 5, 2015 5:36 PM CST
Remember, he will be using permaculture so that will help with the watering. They will be raised beds.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
May 5, 2015 6:51 PM CST
Reid, how exciting!! Keep in mind that most veggies need a minimum of 6 hours of full sunlight per day... and more is better. So yes, you may need to clear some trees. And starting a veg plot in a new spot can be a lot of work. That thought is taking me back about 25 years to when I moved to my present house, I think we could have built a house from the rocks we picked from our garden... So, start small, consider doing some container gardening for a while, and eventually you will have your Eden! Smiling
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Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
May 5, 2015 7:18 PM CST
Thanks everyone! You gave me a lot to think about. I will post on here when we know for sure an be sure to update the progress of my "Eden".
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
May 6, 2015 2:44 PM CST
Maybe the smallest way to start (other than growing in containers, pots and (EarthBoxes) is a small raised bed with a hard floor to keep tree roots out.

Creating a lot of soil from clay or duff takes time and energy and probably money. Clearing a spot of shade and tree roots takes at least time and energy.

But if you have pots and plenty of time and energy, you could "follow the Sun" with your pots for the first year.

You COULD move them twice each day to get more sun than any one spot would have gotten. Obviously, this won't work with vines like peas, beans and tomatoes.

When the morning sun moves and starts to shade the pots, move them to where the afternoon sun will be strongest. Then, in the evening, move them back to where the early-morning sun will be strongest.

If you hate cutting down trees, but really want home-grown vegetables, one year of dragging pots around twice per day might help reconcile you to creating some firewood!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
May 6, 2015 5:51 PM CST
"If you hate cutting down trees, but really want home-grown vegetables, one year of dragging pots around twice per day might help reconcile you to creating some firewood!"

I agree Hilarious!

On the other hand, if you can situate your garden so there are trees to the north, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much heat is reflected by those trees, and how much shelter they afford from north winds (especially if they're evergreens of some sort). My garden is about 20 feet south from the tree line (mostly white cedar), and the snow in front of those trees is always the first to melt.
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Name: wayne
memphis (Zone 7b)
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wayne
May 6, 2015 7:16 PM CST
you may find http://suncalc.net/ helpful as you try to figure out how light passes across your property.

good luck!
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
May 6, 2015 7:52 PM CST
Thank you @wayne; that's the kind of thing I was talking about. Thumbs up I was positive there was a discussion on ATP about doing these calculations, maybe in the permaculture forum?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 7, 2015 11:05 AM CST
wayne said:you may find http://suncalc.net/ helpful as you try to figure out how light passes across your property.

good luck!


Thanks, Wayne! I saved that link to my "weather links" blog.

I wish they had included something for the Sun's height-angle, not just the E - S - W sun angle.

Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
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greene
May 7, 2015 11:10 AM CST
http://www.findmyshadow.com/
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 7, 2015 11:29 AM CST
That's even better!

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