The Lykling Micro -‐ homestead Experiment
Using permaculture and ecological design to create a regenerative food system right in the front yard
by Mike Conover
2014 – 2015
LANDFORM SOLAR EXPOSURE WATER FLOW EXISTING VEGETATION SOIL CONDITIONS USEFUL MICROCLIMATES
6 6 8 10 10 12
PLANNING AND CONCEPT DESIGN
DESIGN CRITERIA SWOT ANALYSIS
MAIN DESIGN ELEMENTS AND FEATURES
PLANTED ZONES PERENNIAL BEDS ANNUAL BEDS ESPALIERED FRUIT TREE PLUM TREE GUILD NUT PRODUCTION SWALE AND PLANTED BERM EDIBLE AND MEDICINAL BERRY PRODUCTION MUSHROOM CULTIVATION NURSERY TRELLISES BASIC LEAD REMEDIATION WINTER VEGETABLE GROWING SOIL FERTILITY COMPOST FACILITY INCOMING BIOMASS STORAGE SOIL IMPROVEMENT THROUGH COVER CROPS AND DYNAMIC ACCUMULATORS HERBAL LEY / INSECTARY ZONES
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15 15 16 17 18 20 23 25 26 28 28 29 29 30 30 31 32 33
PATHS RAINWATER HARVESTING SOLAR FOOD DEHYDRATOR SITTING AREA / MICRO YARD
IMPLEMENTATION AND PHASING YEAR 1: 2015 YEAR 2: 2016 YEARS 3–5: 2017 -‐ 2019
38 38 39 39
MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES SLOW AND STEADY OBSERVE AND INTERACT PROTECTING TREES MULCHING
40 40 40 40 40
PLANT CATALOG BUILDING A LOW TUNNEL FOR VEGETABLE PRODUCTION
34 35 37 37
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
OVERVIEW In the face of the combined global crises of a changing climate, peak oil, and ecosystem collapse, this project represents a glimpse of an alternative way of inhabiting the Earth. It is meant to demonstrate that by living and working with the natural processes and ecological dynamics at work in a given space, we can create a productive food system that requires much less maintenance than conventional approaches to growing food. By mimicking ecosystem dynamics, we can create systems that are somewhat self-‐maintaining and actually improve themselves over time, becoming more resilient as they grow and evolve. By using plants and especially perennials that are well adapted to the conditions of the site, and incorporating a high diversity of plants that all serve a variety of ecosystem functions, we can let Nature do what it does best, and do some of the work for us. Instead of having to spread so much fertilizer for example, we can use plants that fix nitrogen into the soil or plants that accumulate nutrients and minerals in their leaves and make them available for other plants. We inoculate our space with edible, nutritious mushrooms so that we can go foraging right in our yard. Rather than coming in with a predetermined idea of what we want to grow in a given space, this approach emphasizes thoughtful observation and analysis. That way we can have a solid understanding about what is actually taking place in a site and how we can use that to our advantage. What is the shape of the land, and which direction does it face? How does the sun move across the space and how do the shadows change through the year? How does the water flow? What are the soil conditions? These are just a few of the relevant questions that help us understand how we can best optimize a space. The main objective for this project was to create a living human habitat that could produce a substantial amount of food on 1/5 acre while being relatively low maintenance in the long term. In the following pages, I describe all my observations and analyses of the site and outline a potential design for the land that optimizes this space for a perennial based ecological food system. I hope you find it inspiring.
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~ Mike Conover
SITE CONTEXT Location Address: 1 Rupert Street, Waterville Maine, 04901 Geographical: 44° 33’ 44” N 69° 38’ 34” W Size: 1/5 acre
Climate Temperature: USDA Hardiness Zone 4b (avg. annual min. temp. range -‐25° to -‐20° F) Average last frost: May 11-20 Average first frost: Oct. 1 -10 Precipitation: 41 inches annually, evenly spread through the year – about 3.4 inches per month Averages of the monthly extremes (1971-‐2000): Avg. maximum -‐ 8.5 inches Avg. minimum -‐ .60 inches
Figure 1: Site in context of Waterville, Kennebec County, and Maine
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
SITE ANALYSIS Landform The site features a very slight slope in the front yard towards the road (east), and from the deck sloping down towards the driveway. Along the north side, between the cedar hedge and the road there is about a 14% grade that merges with a more gradual slope downwards towards the west. The lowest point is in the northwest corner of the site The west and south sides of the site are relatively flat.
Solar Exposure The house faces towards the southeast and receives a good amount of sunlight. The main features of the site that block sunlight are the house itself, a large maple tree at the south side of the property, and a large deciduous tree from a neighboring house towards the southeast. Assessing the solar exposure throughout the site and the shadows cast by existing vegetation or infrastructure is especially important for any kind of design involving plant life. I observed the site at different times of the day to get a sense on how shadows were cast. I also used a solar pathfinder to determine the way the sun’s Figure 2: Diagram of the solar path throughout year position in the sky changes throughout the day and how the sun’s arc in the sky changes throughout the year. The front yard, based on solar exposure and also proximity to the house is the most ideal place for growing anything that requires full sunlight. However the shade created by the maple tree and the neighbor’s tree will hinder the growth of anything requiring full sun, so I determined areas of the yard that will receive at least 6 hours of sun starting May 1st until mid August (beginning and middle of the growing season), as well as the area that will receive at least 6 hours of sun at the equinoxes (around March 20th and September 22nd ). This will be useful for knowing the best sites for late season growing. See Figure 3 for a basic depiction of the varying degrees of solar exposure received by the site.
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Figure 3: Solar exposure throughout site
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Water Flow The most significant aspect of the site in regards to the way water flows through it is the size and shape of the roof. Beyond this, water mainly flows down towards the street through the front yard, and down a small hill to a low point at the northwest corner of the property Roof surface area catchment Front of the house (east side) The roof design for the front half of the house sends the majority of water towards the middle of the yard, with a smaller amount flowing towards the south and north sides of the property. Of the water that runs towards the center of the yard, 77% of that water flows directly off the roof while the other 23% flows through a gutter and downspout, is sent under the porch, and flows towards the middle of the yard. With about 780 ft2 of roof area channeling water towards the front yard, this would mean between 16,000 – 20,000 gallons per year, 1,300 – 1,600 gallons per month, or between 390 – 490 gallons in a 1-‐inch rainstorm. Some of this water flows down a slight slope towards the driveway, but the majority flows through the front yard. 3,000 – 3,600 gallons per year flow from the south side of the garage onto the path before spreading out, absorbing into the ground and flowing into the neighbor’s property 1,600 – 2,000 gallons per year flow from the northeast corner of the roof per year and is either absorbed or flows down a slight slope to the west and off the property
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1,200 – 1,500 gallons per year flows out through the downspout by the side entrance and into the neighbors yard to the south Back of the house (west side) The back of the house has a much simpler roof design, where the water flow is divided between a single downspout at the northwest corner and one at the southwest corner. The roof will likely receive somewhere between 14,000-‐ 20,000 gallons annually, and is split between the two downspouts on either corner. If the water flow splits fairly evenly between the two gutters, you can expect between 7,000 – 10,000 gallons annually flowing through the northwest gutter, amounting to 580 – 830 gallons a month and 200 -‐ 250 gallons in a 1 inch storm event. While some is surely absorbed into the ground, much of this water flows off the site and towards the neighbors to the west. This gutter would be the best location for a rainwater catchment tank if you eventually decide to install one. Due to the extra roof area above the room adjacent to the kitchen, you can expect between 8,200 -‐ 11,500 gallons of water annually from the downspout in the southwest corner by the pine tree. Much of this water flows off the site towards the south. Note: the annual rainfall amount I used to determine the volumes include snow, so the actual rainwater flowing through each section of the property would be less than the annual estimates.
Figure 4: Water flow through site
Existing Vegetation In order to develop a design that fully integrates with the site, knowledge of the existing vegetation is essential in order to know what should be kept and what can be replaced. The most predominant plants and trees include:
A large maple tree on the south side of the driveway, with little or nothing growing beneath it, likely due to the shade cast by the fence and tree as well as compaction of the soil Two perennial garden beds in the front yard, one larger containing Echinacea, black eyed Susan’s, sedum “autumn joy”, lupine, gooseneck loosestrife, hydrangea, and hostas; the smaller bed containing Montauk daisy, sedum, and chives A hedge of cedars that runs parallel to the north side of the house. While I am not 100% positive, they appear to be Eastern White Cedars or Arborvitae so Cedar Apple Rust should not be a concern (this is a damaging disease that affects apple trees but which is only hosted by Eastern Red Cedars) Two small blueberry plants at the northwest corner Two large unidentified shrubs along the west side of the house A row of 4 elm trees and a conifer along the southwest wall Three annual beds-‐ two 4’ x 8’ raised beds and one 8 ½ ‘ x 25’ keyhole style garden bed
Soil Conditions The different wild plants that thrive on the site (aka weeds) provide an indication of the quality, structure, and nutrient composition of the soil. Plantain and dandelion were found throughout the yard and wild strawberry was found towards the north side of the cedar hedge.
Plantain (Plantago sp.) -‐ wet, cultivated/tilled, clay, acid Dandelion (Taraxacum vulgare) -‐ cultivated/tilled, clay, acid Wild Strawberry (Fragaria sp.) -‐ acid
(Kourik, 36-‐38) Keep in mind that these soil indictors can only provide a general sense of what the conditions of the soil may be. They are obviously not 100% accurate, as some of them may be growing in more marginal conditions compared to where they are commonly found. We can however see a general trend among them and so it is probably safe to derive that the soil is clay based, relatively acidic and at some point in the past may have been cultivated. A soil drainage test was conducted where a 6” wide x 1’ deep hole was dug, filled with water, and then filled again to assess the drainage. It had also been raining for three days so the soil was well saturated. Despite this and the predominantly clay based soil (which often does not drain well), the water drained relatively quickly.
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A soil test performed by the University of Maine Soil Testing Service can be found in the appendix. According to the report the soil is in a good condition and has moderate levels of most nutrients and micronutrients. The main improvements suggested (where garden beds will be located) are to:
Increase nitrogen levels
Increase organic matter
-‐ -‐ -‐ -‐
Generally always good for improving soil health Feeds beneficial microorganisms and insect populations Improves soil structure as it is broken down into humus Helps create a soil that is well draining but retains sufficient moisture
Necessary for plant and leaf development
Add phosphorus -‐
Necessary for balanced, healthy plant growth and formation Aids in plant uptake of other nutrients Is usually abundant in most soils, though not in a form that is easily or quickly taken up by plants
Supplement micronutrients -‐
Necessary in smaller quantities for all life processes
The importance of soil biodiversity: It is also important to consider that soil health goes far beyond the numerical quantities of the different macro and micronutrients. A healthy and productive soil is characterized by a high diversity of life forms, for example microorganisms, earthworms, and other insects. Ecological diversity helps ensure that no one insect population or type of bacteria takes over and grows disproportionately to the rest. A sterile soil for example is just waiting to be occupied by whatever life form quickly takes advantage of it and experiences a population explosion. This is not a balanced ecosystem and is more conducive to unhealthy plants and bacterial disease. A soil with a high amount of diversity on the other hand is much more balanced and stable, as all life forms keep each other in check. Healthy soils lead to healthy plants, which have greater immunity to pests and disease.
The online soil database SoilWeb, which accesses USDA-‐NCSS soil survey data through the country, described the small region around the site as SkB, or “Scio very fine sandy loam” and classified it as moderately well drained and as farmland of statewide importance. Because of the large scale of an online database, we should use this information with a grain of salt, but any information can help us in some way.
Figure 5: Soil class according to USDA-‐NCSS
Useful Microclimates Microclimates are particular areas of a landscape that exhibit slightly different climatic conditions than the rest of the site. Because of existing elements or features, a certain area may be especially warm, cold, dry, wet, windy, or protected, etc. A few microclimates observed were: Because the porch faces southeast, morning sunlight will be reflected off the porch and will create a slightly warmer microclimate directly in front of it. Obviously all the areas that are shaded will be cooler than the rest of the site. The north sides of the fences, the house, and the hedge will therefore be cooler.
The south-‐facing row of cedar trees creates a warm, and well-protected microclimate in between the hedge and the house. This is because their dark color absorbs sunlight and radiates it as heat, and their tight spacing helps reduce any winds coming from the north. The effectiveness of the cedar hedge at creating a warm microclimate was evident in the way the snow melted on the site. The snow melted more quickly in the area south of the hedge, especially on the southeast portion of it, beyond the shadow of the house.
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PLANNING AND CONCEPT DESIGN Design Criteria What do we want to achieve through developing this site? From the Background Profile Questionnaire you filled out this is what I gathered: Main priorities expressed
Attracting beneficial pollinators and insects
Reducing environmental footprint
-‐Centralized location in town and community and town -‐Cedar hedge acts as a suntrap -‐Southeast facing house provides good solar exposure in front yard -‐Already have experience gardening and with permaculture design
-‐Size -‐Little privacy -‐Much of the site has poor solar exposure -‐Soil compaction is severe in certain places
Threats -‐Small size provides an opportunity for -‐ Unwanted browsing from deer, experimenting with design ideas that utilize birds, and curious neighbors space most efficiently to produce food -‐Erratic and unpredictable weather -‐Proximity to neighbors provides great due to climate change opportunities for building community -‐The site can serve as a testing ground and demonstration site for permaculture principles in practice
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
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MAIN DESIGN ELEMENTS AND FEATURES Descriptions of many of the plants mentioned below can be found in the Plant Guide section of the appendix.
Planted Zones Perennial beds These areas would be great for establishing perennial vegetable polycultures and edible ecosystems. There is a surprising number of edible and medicinal perennial species so I have compiled a list of some perennial edibles that may do well in this site. Descriptions of most of these can be found in the Plant Guide, however because you own Toensmeier’s book Perennial Vegetables, for those that he describes I refer you to the appropriate page as he provides excellent and thorough descriptions far beyond the scope of my guide. Obviously it is not necessary to plant all of these, this is only a suggestion of possibilities that may Figure 6: Turkish Rocket is a very hardy, resilient do well at this site. You can also seed perennial that can be cooked and eaten like broccoli annuals such as leafy greens into the beds whenever there are openings. Shrubs
Egyptian onions (aka walking onions)
Good King Henry (leafy green)
Sea kale (perennial kale)
Skirret (root crop)
Turkish rocket (broccoli-‐like)
Dutch white clover
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Annual beds There are two annual zones in the design, an annual keyhole bed along the south side of the cedar hedge and a set of three raised beds in the middle of the yard. The raised beds will a good amount of sun for the beginning and middle of the growing season, with the northern bed receiving the most sun and the southern most receiving slightly less. The keyhole beds will receive full sun throughout the entire growing season and into the fall and winter, so would be best for winter production. In terms of special efficiency keyhole beds are the most efficient use of space, however you would be planting annuals in a circular type pattern rather than straight lines. That being said, either spot could be planted in either garden style. Planting techniques for keyhole beds If you are intercropping or planting different crops together in the keyhole beds, one way to optimize this way of growing is to plant what is most often harvested along the edge of the path, for example your herbs or salad greens. Just beyond that plant things that you will harvest from less often, for example beans, bush peas, or tomatoes. In a ring around these plants, plant the crops you will harvest one time. If you end up needing to step on the garden bed to harvest them, it is only once. These may be you cabbage, potatoes, carrots etc. While not the most conventional way of planting, this way optimizes space and creates garden beds that are much more interesting to be in.
Creating the beds There are many ways to create garden beds. Use whatever method you feel most comfortable with, whether sheet mulching, double digging, or tilling, etc. I would recommend sheet mulching as it avoids disrupting the soil’s ecology and over time the layers will break down and create a rich and fertile soil. By using natural processes of decomposition, it will save you quite a bit of work. Toby Hemenway has developed a great recipe for sheet mulching which can be found on his website: www.patternliteracy.com/books/gaias-‐ garden/how-‐to-‐the-‐ultimate-‐bomb-‐proof-‐ sheet-‐mulch Annual polycultures If you want to experiment with different annual polycultures, here are a few examples. Carrots, lettuce, and onions grow well together because their rooting habits are all different and so wont interfere with each other One of the most well-‐known and longstanding polycultures is that of the “three sisters,” and was used by the Native Americans. This involves planting corn, beans, and squash, together to create a mutually beneficial relationship among them. Corn provides the structure and support for the beans to trellis up, beans fix nitrogen into the soil, and squash acts as a groundcover.
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Espaliered fruit tree Espalier is the practice of training a fruit tree to grow horizontally along a fence trellis. This is a somewhat advanced technique for growing a fruit tree and will require some maintenance and care. The effort put in however may be balanced out by the ability to grow fruit in a way that takes up very little space, and is somewhat of an art form as well. While many different fruit trees or ornamentals can be espaliered, apple, plum, or pear trees would be best suited to this climate. The Fedco catalog (21) writes that most Figure 7: Apple espalier apple varieties will work on an espalier but that a semi-‐dwarf rootstock may be necessary to restrict its growth. Most apples, pears, and plums need multiple plants to cross pollinate with, but that should not be an issue, as you can plant multiple trees to espalier and even graft several apple varieties onto the same plant. Through talking to orchardists and reading, Liberty apples are a particularly good variety for disease and pest resistance. In terms of hardy apple varieties for Maine, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension writes, “…apple varieties suggested for northern Maine are Beacon, Chestnut Crab, Duchess, Snow, Wealthy, Honeycrisp and Honeygold. The varieties Black Oxford, Fireside, Jonathan, Keepsake, Liberty, Lodi, Milden, Paula Red, Northern Spy, Pristine, Snowsweet, William’s Pride, Wolf River, Yellow Transparent, and Zestar! also have good winter hardiness. Varieties not listed here may also be sufficiently hardy for your area.” 1
Other fruits that would work well on the fence trellis are grapes and blackberries. You can also under plant the espalier with herbs and greens that like the shade in the heat of summer. Dutch white clover would be a great groundcover beneath the espalier to fix nitrogen for the fruits. Whenever planting nitrogen fixing plants, its helps to inoculate the seeds to ensure that the specific nitrogen-‐fixing bacteria are present. In the additional resources is a helpful guide that gives a great overview of espaliers, what it takes to construct and establish them, and how to maintain them.
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Plum tree guild The concept of a guild involves creating a mini plant community, where each plant is intentionally included to contribute some function to the whole. They are often created around a central tree and because each plant serves a different function, guilds lessen some of the work necessary to maintain and care for the tree. The more diversity and interconnections among species, the healthier and more resilient the ecosystem is. Figure 8: Plum tree in bloom Some of the functions that certain plants might serve in an ecosystem are: Fixing nitrogen Providing habitat for wildlife or beneficial insects Attracting pollinators
Loosening and aerating the soil with deep taproots
Bringing nutrients to the soil surface Producing lots of biomass for mulch
Repelling animals or pests
Figure 9: Sample guild diagram
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The plum guild is located in between the A semi dwarf apple tree would also do espalier and the fence, where it will receive well here, but would need a second tree for full sunlight and yet not shade out many other cross-‐pollination. If you were espaliering plants. Most plums require multiple trees to apples as well this would not be an issue but cross-‐pollinate, however a few varieties such it depends on how many apple trees you want as Mount Royal are self fertile, which is to be growing. This is the same case for pear essential if there is only one tree so keep this and Asian pears and Asian pears would be at in mind when selecting a variety. Based on the very limit of their hardiness range my research I would suggest Mount Royal as (recommended in 5, but may be able to it supposedly produces delicious sweet plums tolerate 4), so this might not be a good choice. and is naturally semi-‐dwarf so would fit well in that location. To increase diversity and utilize the abilities of plants to perform ecosystem functions and reduce labor, some good understory plants for these guilds would be: Comfrey -‐ Mulch producing, dynamic accumulator (N, K, and Ca), medicinal. *don’t plant until you are certain you want it there. It propagates by cut roots, so it is almost impossible to get rid of once its established. Plant one or two 4-‐15’ from tree trunks (Fedco, 66). Use a sterile variety.
Have a toxic compound so if planted around the base of a tree they help repel voles and other animals
Deep-‐rooted wildflowers -‐
Attract pollinators, deep taproots help loosen soil for tree roots. Examples are chicory, purple hairy vetch and Dutch mustards
Dutch white clover -‐
Nitrogen fixing leguminous ground cover, spread all over
May help repel plum curculio, a weevil that affects plums and apples
Allium bulb that when planted in a dense ring around the trees drip line will prevent grasses from spreading towards the tree
Sweet cicely -‐
Attracts and provides habitat for beneficial insects (including predatory insects)
Dynamic accumulator (N, K, P, Cu), attracts pollinators, groundcover, medicinal
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Nut production In between the cedar hedge and the To plant larger trees and give them house, where the raised beds currently are, more space, my suggestion is to harvest the is a great location for small to medium sized cedar trees west of the annual garden bed nut trees or bushes. Because that area is for rot resistant posts and plant the north of the house and gets partial shade, almonds or hazelnuts where the cedar you can plant taller shrubs that would hedge was. This would free up more space escape the shade and effectively get full sun. for the trees to grow but would take more One to two almond trees or two to four time and energy in terms of cutting the hazelnuts would fit well into this space, trees and prepping the spots where the depending on the variety used and how trees would go with compost and tightly spaced you want them. If you prefer woodchips. Plant the new trees at least 3 to keep the cedar hedge, you may need to feet from the cedar stumps to ensure that prune the trees regularly, or make sure to their roots have room to grow. choose small varieties (which are generally less hardy). Hazelnuts Hazelnuts are a great option as far as a cold hardy nut tree goes, and hazelnuts are hardier than almonds. There are many different varieties of hazelnuts but I will summarize the ones I think are best suited to your site, and what growing each one might entail.
Figure 10: Hazelnuts make a delicious and very hardy crop
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These are the smallest hazel variety (6-‐12 ft x same) and two or three of them would fit well in between the cedar hedge and the house, planted 6 feet apart in line with the hedge. They are very hardy (zone 3) and not prone to any diseases or pests. They produce the least amount of the hazels (10 – 13 lbs/tree) and the nuts are fairly small.
Larger than beaked hazelnuts (12-‐18' x 10-‐15’) and more productive with larger nuts. Also very hardy. Attached with the Additional Resources is a great article about hazelnuts in Maine by Will Bonsall at MOFGA. He recommends the American hazel over the beaked hazel for its quality of nuts and its hardiness to Maine’s conditions, and has no experience with hazelberts. These could still be planted in between the cedar hedge and the house, but may need to be cut back occasionally.
(Corylus americana x Corylus avellana)
These are a cross between American hazels, which are very cold hardy and disease resistant, and European hazels, which are larger and easier to process. They grow to be around 12 feet tall and can produce 20 – 26 lbs per bush. If you value hazelnuts and want to plant a larger size bush, the hybrid produces larger nuts than the American hazel and is a similar sized bush, so I would choose this.
Knowing this, essentially the three main options are: 1. Plant beaked hazel in between the cedars and the house. It will be low maintenance and hardy and will not produce very much, but it will provide something. 2. Plant hazelberts parallel to the cedar hedge, realizing that you may have to keep them cut back so they don’t grow to their full size and grow into the cedars 3. Replace the back half of the cedar hedge with the hazelberts. This involves the most work and cost but may be the best option in the long run, depending on how much you value nut production. I do not know if the roots of the cedars and hazelberts would cause problems for each other if the hazelberts were planted parallel to the cedars, so simply replacing the cedars with the hazelberts would give the hazels plenty of space to grow to their fullest form. Because you would only be removing half the hedge, the suntrap qualities of the cedar hedge would still warm the annual garden, and if you space the hazelberts 4-‐ 6 feet apart they would effectively create a new, edible hedge. If aesthetics are a concern, this hybrid hedge would end up looking fairly non conventional so it is necessary to consider this as well. In this location, the hazelnuts would get full sun and may produce between 20 – 26 lbs of nuts per plant. With this option, the cedar would not need to go to waste because cedar makes great, rot resistant posts and could be used to create the espalier, provided they are thick enough when you cut them.
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Also worth mentioning is the fact that hazelnuts cannot serve as the central plant in a guild in the same way that a larger tree can because hazelnuts are dense shrubs and cast a great deal of shade, so companion plants would have to be planted around them, rather than under them. In addition, because you would have to rake the nuts up off the ground in the fall, perennial plants would likely be damaged. Herbal and medicinal self-‐seeding annuals would therefore make better guild plants. Almond guild Depending on the variety, almond trees can be cold hardy and are usually naturally semi-‐dwarf so could fit well in this spot. There are a few Ukrainian varieties of almonds that are especially cold hardy and would be good to zone 5. It is important to note however, that this site is right on the border between 4b and 5a, so there is a risk that an especially cold winter could kill wipe them out. Choose a smaller variety because anything larger than 12’ would be too large for this spot, or would need to be pruned and kept small. Also any of the plants mentioned above in the plum Figure 11: Almond tree in bloom guild could be planted beneath or near the almonds to perform various ecosystem functions. When you shake the almonds from the trees in late summer and early fall, place a tarp beneath the trees to catch the nuts and prevent them from getting lost among the other plants. You could plant any of the plants listed above in the plum guild section under or near the almonds to create almond guilds. Some shade tolerant perennials that could also work well are: Blueberry Lemon balm Chamomile
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Swale and planted berm Because there is so much water flowing off of the roof and though the front yard, the best way to take advantage of this free resource is in the form of an on contour swale and berm. This is essentially a trench that would run along the contour line of the yard, capturing water and allowing it to percolate into the ground rather than run off site into the driveway or street. Filled with woodchips, it would also function as a main path through the yard. The berm is the mound created with the dirt dug up from the swale and would function as a raised bed. Creating the swale and berm
The swale should be dug at least 10 feet away from the house to avoid flooding the basement. However, because the porch addition is completely above ground, the 10 feet rule may not be as necessary. An A-‐ frame can be used to determine the exact contour of the slope and they can be made with just a few scrap pieces of wood (there is a lot of information about making A-‐ frames and mapping contours online). Before digging the swale, line the area where the berm will be with a layer of cardboard to keep weeds and grass down. Dig the swale 3 feet wide and 1 foot deep and flip the sod and soil onto the cardboard as you dig to create the berm. Make the berm about 4 feet wide to allow for a wide planting bed. Afterwards, even out the contour of the swale and berm with a rake to create a smooth gradient. Before filling it in with anything, observe the swale during a few big rainstorms to make sure it is filling and
Figure 12: Swales aid in water infiltration into the soil. They prevent runoff and keep the soil hydrated for longer
draining well. Also make a note if the swale is filling levelly, or if there are spots that need to be raised or lowered. To prevent erosion in the event of very large rainstorms the swale should have an overflow channel built into it, which can also double as a path across the berm. When you create the berm, leave an area about 2 or 3 feet wide somewhat lower than the rest of the berm and add gravel or rocks to make the overflow channel into a durable path. Fill the swale with woodchips, which will retain moisture and release it gradually into the ground and berm. The swale/path should be 3 feet wide to allow for a wheelbarrow or garden cart. Because the woodchips will decompose over time you may need to add to it, every year or so. You can fill the bottom of the swale with a layer of gravel as well to facilitate drainage so the woodchips don’t get too wet.
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Planting the berm The berm is now a brand new raised bed and so should be augmented with compost to improve the soil’s structure and its fertility. Because the main function of the berm is to help retain water caught by the swale it is more suited for perennials, whose deeper and more extensive roots will hold the soil in place. In order to optimize the space, planting multiple levels of beneficial plants together will make best use of the space as well as provide little space for any unwanted plants to enter.
This means a shrub layer, which could include low maintenance berry bushes, an herbaceous layer of edible and medicinal herbs, and a groundcover layer. Below are some suggestions for what might do well along the berm. It is a mix of edible, medicinal, and ecosystem benefiting plants. Obviously you do not need to plant every one of them-‐ look through the Plant Guide section of the appendix and read the descriptions and see what appeals to you.
2 Juneberries (full sun)
Dutch white clover
2 Chokeberries (part sun) 2 Blue false indigo (full sun)
Figure 13: Juneberries tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions and produce berries with a taste similar to cherries, blueberries, or raisins
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Edible and medicinal berry production The area north of the cedar hedge actually gets surprisingly good sunlight through much of the year, but is only really accessible by a tall shrub or tree. Using a solar pathfinder, I determined that about a spot 6 feet from the hedge and 6 feet off the ground gets 6 hours of sunlight at the equinoxes. Therefore from mid march to mid September any shrub over 6 feet tall will be getting at least 6 hours of sun per day. This area is towards the edge of the property and will likely receive less attention than much of the front yard simply due to proximity; hardy, disease resistant and low maintenance shrubs and bushes would therefore do well here. Below are a few low-‐maintenance, multifunctional shrubs that would do well in this location. You can find descriptions of each one in the Plant Guide in the appendix. The elderberries and Nanking cherries both need multiple plants for cross pollination, so plant at least two. At least two Elderberries planted towards the low spot on the slope, as they generally like wetter soils. Use varieties that don’t get any larger than 10 feet tall and space them 4 – 6 feet apart. One to three Juneberries spaced 6 -‐ 8 feet apart At least two Nanking cherries, spaced 3 -‐ 5 feet apart A row of raspberries would also do well in this space, and could be combined with a few of any of the plants above.
Figure 14: Nanking cherries are disease resistant, very hardy, and can tolerate shade, drought and most soil types. Oh, and they're delicious.
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Mushroom cultivation Growing mushrooms is a great way to turn an unproductive shaded area into a low maintenance source of highly nutritious food. Once established, mushrooms will often produce for years. There are a few different ways to grow mushrooms.
species include sugar maple, oak, beech, hop hornbeam, and ironwood. Aim for between 10 to 30 logs, depending on how much you and your family enjoys mushrooms. Just to provide a sense of what the yields could be like, if you are forcing them (explained below) 8 logs should provide about ¼ -‐ ½ pound of mushrooms per week while 32 logs could provide between 1 to 2 pounds (Gabriel, 2014).
One method is to drill holes in hardwood logs and inoculate them with spawn, and seal the inoculated areas with wax. There are a few different types of mushrooms you could use, but Shitakes are often recommended as a good starting point.
The spawn run could take from 6-‐18 months before fruiting but then fruit for years, depending on type of the wood and its density. For example poplar may produce mushrooms for 4 years, oak could be productive for 8. (Judd, 39). The logs need to be stored in a shaded area, so the whole area along the north side of the fence under the maple tree would be a great spot. If more shade is needed, you could drape a shade cloth over the logs. The area on the west side of the house between the house and the large shrubs is another prime location.
Figure 15: Shitake logs ready for harvest
You can do this yourself but the process is much more fun and goes much faster when you have help. You will need a source of relatively fresh hardwood logs around 6” in diameter and 40” long (if they have been sitting for too long and starting to rot, other types of fungi will have already colonized them). Downed trees from the winter snow could be a good source and would allow you to start in early spring. Many species of hardwood would work but according to Gabriel and Mudge (2014)
26 The Lykling Micro-‐homestead Experiment
Once the logs have been colonized and are ready to fruit, they need to be thoroughly soaked to produce the mushrooms. The logs can either be allowed to fruit naturally, which could happen after a heavy rain, or forced to produce by soaking them in water. The tradeoff is in the work of transporting the logs to a water source in order to have more control over the process and get a higher yield, vs. less work and a smaller, more unpredictable yield. If you would like the larger, more consistent yields, a simple and cheap option would be to buy or find a plastic kiddie pool and soak them in that. If not, a heavy rain will cause them to fruit and the mushrooms will come as a pleasant surprise to you.
Another method is to inoculate fresh hardwood chips or straw with Wine Cap Stropharia spawn. This involves layering wood chips or straw with the mushroom spawn and making sure it stays moist, by mulching it and occasionally watering it. Every tree that you mulch with woodchips
as well as the paths could theoretically be inoculated with spawn. Unlike Shitakes, Wine caps do well in sunny or partly shaded areas. As you can probably tell, this method is very simple and straightforward, and does not require very much maintenance, aside from keeping it moist and harvesting!
Figure 16: If you inoculate your woodchip mulch and paths with Wine Cap mushrooms you may find them spreading throughout your yard and popping up in unexpected places.
Obviously this is just a quick primer on what mushroom cultivation might entail but if you are interested in learning more, a really great source is www.fieldforest.net. They also sell everything you could need for starting mushroom production. This is a great breakdown from their website of some of the different varieties and methods according to the level of difficulty. Easiest Lion's Mane on logs Oysters on logs Oysters on straw Shiitake on logs Wine Cap on straw or wood chips
A Little Less Easy Almond Agaricus on compost Box Elder on logs Nameko on logs Reishi on logs
Least Easy Blewit on organic matter Maitake on logs
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Nursery One of the keyhole beds in the perennial zone could be used as a small nursery if you decide to start some of your shrubs or trees from cuttings instead of buying more mature (and more expensive) plants. This can be an area where you grow and give extra attention to younger plants before you transplant them to their final location. According to Sean Dembrosky who runs Edible Acres, a plant nursery in New York State, the nursery should be the best site on the property and should have full sun in morning and late day shade. One option would be to dedicate the northern most keyhole garden bed to be a nursery, as It would get a great deal of sun in the morning and into the afternoon, but because it is just east of the house, would be shaded in the late afternoon.
Trellises There are multiple trellises throughout the design for vining and climbing annuals and perennials. To minimize shading other plants, they are located on the north side of various garden beds and along the porch wall Annuals that could be grown on the trellises include beans, cucumbers, peas, or tomatoes. Larger plants such as squash or melons can be trellised as well as their vines grow strong enough to support the weight of their own fruit. Groundnut and Chinese mountain yam are two edible vining perennial vegetables fit for this climate.
A nursery should also be very fertile so Sean recommends using a compost tea. There are many recipes online for this, but it essentially involves soaking compost and nutrient rich plant matter in water for a few days, straining out the organic matter and using it to improve the fertility, nutrient levels, and microbiology of the soil. You can also use composted manure, amendments such as alfalfa meal or soybean meal, or urine. Note: for the keyhole garden beds in front of the porch, make sure to create them beyond the roofline, so rainwater doesn’t flow directly off the roof onto the beds.
Figure 17: Groundnuts produce a protein rich tuber and also fix nitrogen
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Basic lead remediation The ground along the north side of the house is likely contaminated with lead due to a good amount of chipped paint from the windows. If you would like to grow edibles in this area eventually, get a lead test done for this area and a few feet away and if sufficient levels are found, dig out and replace the top 6 -‐12 inches of top soil. However, because it is in the shade and isn’t an ideal growing space anyways, I would grow dynamic accumulators and/or mushrooms to help remediate the soil. Whatever you grow there, keep it out of the compost and dispose of the biomass in an appropriate way (check with Waterville to see if there is any specific protocol). Toby Hemenway has written that most dynamic accumulators that take up metals such as copper and zinc also take up lead (131). Depending on what is available and what you can find, plant a combination of bentgrass, eastern bracken, duckweed, red fescue, scented geranium, alpine pennycress, mustards, rapeseed, or sunflower. Unfortunately, and ironically, because some of these plants are considered to be weeds it may be somewhat difficult to acquire some of them.
Remember also that this area gets little sun because it is right on the north side of the house. Another option is using oyster mushrooms, which sequester heavy metals and could be inoculated into wood chips in the area (Hemenway, 238). Just make sure to dispose of any mushrooms you are using for lead remediation.
Winter vegetable growing The keyhole style annual garden bed in front of the cedar hedge would be the best place for winter growing. This area receives the most sunlight out of anywhere on the property and the south facing dark cedar hedge will absorb and radiate the sun’s heat creating a warm microclimate. It will also act as a miniature windbreak and protect any plants growing in front of it. I would build a low tunnel using bent galvanized metal conduit. Depending on how permanent you want the structure to be, you can reinforce the structure with wood. In the appendix you will find some pictures of a couple different designs for a low tunnel and a diagram depicting how you can build a simple one.
Figure 18: A simple low tunnel can provide season extension and greens all winter long
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Soil Fertility Compost facility Composting in its most basic form would be creating a pile with all of your food scraps and waste organic matter where it can decompose. To minimize pests and rodents entering the pile, it would be best to either build or buy a composting enclosure. A simple and cheap (or free) set up would be to use old recycled wooden pallets and build a two or three bin system. Because you will want to eventually use the finished compost in your garden beds, a one-‐bin system will not work because it will never be able to decompose if you are always adding to it. In order for the Figure 19: Example of a three-‐bin system made pile to have enough mass and reach a sufficient from recycled pallets temperature, the bins should be a minimum of 3’ x 3’x 3’. Make the pile in contact with the ground, allowing earthworms to move in to the pile Maintaining a balance of carbon rich (“brown”) to nitrogen rich (“green”) materials. A basic ratio to shoot for is 2/3 brown to 1/3 green material Brown materials are often dead, brown and/or woody, such as dried leaves, branches, cardboard (ripped up), sawdust or wood shavings, shredded brown bags, tea bags, coffee filters, egg shells. They provide the light fluffy structure of compost and the carbon. Green refers to the nitrogen rich material – generally anything fresh, with some life still in it. These are your vegetable and food scraps, fresh leaves, grass clippings, etc. It is beneficial to cover the compost pile with a tarp or lid, keeping the rain out which could over saturate the pile or leach nutrients, and keeping heat in. Make sure it stays relatively moist-‐ think of a moist sponge that has been wrung out already. If you squeeze it you should only be able to wring out a few drops of water. Aerating the pile with a pitchfork or flipping it is not always essential but will add oxygen to the pile and speed up decomposition.
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If it is smelly or slimy, it may just need more carbon rich materials. Smells can be reduced by covering new additions with dry grass or a similar mulch. At such a small scale, meat, bones, or oils won’t break down very well so should be kept out of the compost. You can camouflage the bins and hide any odor with fragrant, flowering shrubs or vines, for example honey suckle. If you want to really boost your compost production, increase the soil fertility in your garden beds, and reduce landfill waste, one idea would be to ask your neighbors to save their food scraps for you as well. You could even give a few of them a bucket with a lid to make it easy and convenient for them, and pick it up once or twice a week. That may not be practical as you are usually very busy with Zora but it’s an idea. If you were to do that, you would probably want to create a three-‐bin system to account for the extra biomass.
Incoming biomass storage In a suburban context, there are many opportunities for utilizing “waste” biomass and converting it into productive soil. Biomass can be often sourced for free or very cheap, so having a designated zone for this imported material may be useful. During the first few years of implementation and system establishment, this space could hold large piles of materials, for example leaves in the fall or woodchips during pruning season. The area to the south of the driveway in between the driveway and fence is quite compacted and has poor soil so would be a great location for this. The rectangle of gravel and compacted soil adjacent to the road and driveway would also be a great spot. After a few years, when there is less need for large quantities of biomass, the decomposing biomass on the rectangular space will have added to and improved the soil beneath it and so can be planted with hardy insectary plants.
Figure 20: You can never have too many woodchips… well maybe sometimes.
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Soil improvement through cover crops and dynamic accumulators One way to start building fertile soil is through the “lasagna style” sheet mulching method that I mentioned before, and incorporating rich compost and/or manure into the layers. You may also want to utilize cover crops to improve soil structure and increase the nitrogen content in the case of alfalfa and clover. You can plant grasses, oats, millet, barley, or clovers esp. Dutch white clover in the beds to then cut down and incorporate into the soil. Comfrey is an amazing plant and will provide a great deal of biomass, which you can use as a mulch, in compost, or in compost teas. It is a dynamic accumulator and its leaves are rich in silica, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, and iron. Plant comfrey in year 2-‐5, or once you are certain you know where you want it to be because once it is planted, it is near impossible to remove. Because it can propagate itself through root cuttings, trying to dig it up or till it into the soil will only help it spread. Wild Folk Farm
has a sterile variety of comfrey that isn’t supposed to spread through its seeds so that would be a great source. When composting comfrey, add extra dry, fibrous matter to keep compost well aerated. Comfrey also has powerful medicinal properties: it is also called “boneknit” and is very good for binding things together, whether for closing an open wound or helping heal broken bones. You can use it in salves, oils, or as a poultice. You can line the annual keyhole bed with a border of sterile comfrey. This will help prevent weeds and grasses from creeping into the garden and will also provide you with a constant supply of nutrient rich biomass to use as mulch or in compost teas. It is very hardy and resilient: you can chop the whole plant down to mulch your vegetables and it will grow back.
Figure 21: Comfrey is a hardy multifunctional plant – dynamic accumulator, mulch maker, and wound healer.
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To increase the available nutrients and build soil in the front yard, Kourik (278) provides some beneficial ornamental dynamic accumulators. These would be both aesthetically pleasing and also functional. You can seeds these to grow and cut them down before they go to seed to use for mulch, building the soil. I have also listed the nutrients that each one accumulates. Chamomile – Ca, K, P
Mullein – S, Mg, K, Fe
Chicory – Ca, K
Primrose -‐ Mg
Crimson clover – N, P
Savory -‐ P
Lupines – N, P
Yarrows – N, K, P, Cu
Marigolds -‐ P
Kourik (280) also suggests planting certain wildflower plants under and around fruit trees as “cultivators,” as they have deep roots that can grow to 4 feet or deeper, improving the soil as the tree is growing. If you experiment with these, plant them beyond the mulch. As the tree grows over the years, you can expand the mulch ring and cover them, where they will rot in place and build soil. Chicory Mustards Dock
Purple hairy vetch
Dutch white clover
Herbal ley / Insectary zones An herbal ley (pronounced “lay”) is an area dedicated to growing nutrient rich grasses, legumes, wildflowers, or herbs to harvest and use for improving the soil’s fertility. You can use the biomass as mulch, for compost, or in green manure for the various garden beds. It can be a great way to grow your own fertility and speed up soil building. Robert Kourik (180) mentions many different leguminous wildflowers that function as dynamic accumulators and would be suitable for this. Many of these would also serve as insect and pollinator attractors, which would improve pollination for your trees and garden beds. Of Kourik’s suggestions, some good options for your site would be: Alfalfa
Perennial sweet pea
As this region is more for long-‐term soil improvement and less of a priority than the garden beds for example, establish this area sometime in years 2-‐3.
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Paths If you plan to spend a good amount of time outside in your yard whether caring for your gardens, harvesting produce, carting mulch or compost around, or just relaxing and enjoying the space, the layout of the paths and the material you use for them is fairly significant. There are a number of different options for what the paths can be, depending on the level of permanence, cost, and flexibility vs. durability. Kourik (50) provides a nice comparison of the pros and cons of less permanent and more permanent paths, which I have summarized here: More permanent Pros – Keeps to clearly designated areas and limits soil compaction, lowest ongoing maintenance, less likely to grow weeds, increases property value, can take much more traffic/abuse, may be considered more beautiful Cons – More upfront cost and effort, requires more upfront planning, not easily changed Examples – Bricks in sand, bricks in mortar, poured concrete, flagstone, slate, wood, cobblestone Less permanent Pros – Easily changed, low cost and effort, Cons – Higher maintenance and more likely to grow weeds, less durable, may be considered unaesthetic, Examples – Dirt, grass, clover, old carpet covered in wood chips, crushed rock, sand My suggestion for main paths would be to use at least the majority of year 1 to observe your own flow through the site and let the most efficient paths become evident. Leave it as dirt, grass, clover, whatever is there and experiment with the ideal locations for where the paths run. In year 2 or at the end of year 1, develop the main paths and make them more permanent. One option could be to put down flagstone slabs and plant Dutch white clover or creeping thyme in between. These paths will be able to take a lot of traffic and abuse, and require little maintenance. The clover will fix nitrogen and prevent other plants from creeping in but will be somewhat protected from foot traffic because most will be on the stones. A cheaper and simpler option would be to use woodchips, which will eventually break down and add organic matter to the soil. If you use woodchips, you can also inoculate them with Wine Cap Stropharia mushrooms. The primary paths should be wide to allow for wheelbarrow or garden cart access (2 ½ ’ – 3’ ) For secondary paths, make them as wide as feels comfortable (probably around 1’ – 2’)
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Rainwater Harvesting Instead of relying on city water for all your irrigation needs, harvesting rainwater would be a great way to reduce your water consumption and make good use of the rain water that flows off of your roof, through your gutters, and off your property. The best location for a rainwater collection tank is the Northwest corner of the house, along side the house. Some details of the calculations After calculating the rooftop catchment for the back half of the roof, assuming that rain water from the back roof is fairly split between the northwest and southwest downspouts, the northwest downspout may receive between 580 to 830 gallons of water a month. This is much more than you would need for your irrigation purposes, so what you could do is start small, and see how much water you end up using. You can always add another tank adjacent to the first and connect them. Between April and October the average amount of precipitation is 3.6 inches per month, which means about .9 inches per week. A rough estimate for determining water needs of a garden bed is 1 inch per week so with the amount of rain that Waterville receives, it does not seem like you would need to irrigate very much, perhaps supplementing an extra 30 gallons per week over all the beds. During especially hot weeks or a drought however, where you would need to provide all the water for all the beds, you could be irrigating up to 275 gallons. This is just to give you a very rough estimate on what your water needs may be when you are looking into buying a rain barrel.
Finding a barrel A brief look into the costs of different rain barrels shows that most new rain barrels sized between 40 – 60 gallons cost between $80 -‐ $150. A much cheaper option would be to call around and search for a 55 gallon HOPE barrel, which are commonly used by food distributers for soda, juice, soap, marinades, pickles, etc. They seem to be fairly common in the food industry so there is a chance that a large food distributer, soda manufacturer, or even car wash may have some for free or very cheap. I would also check Craig list. Make sure that it is not clear, as a clear one will allow algae to grow. A helpful Instruct able for finding and making a cheap rainwater barrel for under $15 can be found at: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-‐to-‐ make-‐a-‐rain-‐barrel-‐1/
Figure 22: Two 55-‐gallon food grade barrels for rainwater, raised 2 feet off the ground
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
For a larger size container, food grade 275 gallon IBC totes are fairly common and you may be able to find one on Craig list or from a large food distributer as well. They will likely cost between $25 -‐ $100. Also consider that if you want the water pressure to be created by gravity, you will need to build a simple platform to raise the container up. The higher it is, the more water pressure.
This would not be a huge project, but it will definitely require a bit of time for acquiring the materials and learning exactly how to set it up. Depending on how much time you have and how ambitious you are in taking on new projects, I would suggest tackling this sometime between year 2 and year 4 (2016 – 2018). In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled and be on the lookout for a free or cheap container and materials (for the platform, ex. wooden pallets).
Figure 23: A 300 gallon IBC tote painted black to prevent algae growth
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Solar Food Dehydrator A solar food dehydrator would allow you to very easily dry and preserve fruits, vegetables, meat, or fish, using only sunlight. They are fairly straightforward in terms of how to build them and there are lots of different plans online to choose from. Below is a link to a particularly thorough set of plans from a man that has been building and experimenting with them for many years. Its more complex than other models but it will just give you a sense of what one could look like.
Figure 24: Solar dehydrator
Sitting Area / Micro Yard This is an area where you could retain some of your lawn if you ever want to sit out on a blanket or set up some chairs or a table. You could also put bricks or stones down to create a small patio. The plum tree would provide some shade during the summer months and the fence would provide a sense of privacy. You could plant some climbing vining plants such as hops or clematis to trellis up the fence and complement the space.
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
IMPLEMENTATION AND PHASING Obviously you will implement elements of the design at your own pace and some you may choose not to implement at all. Regardless, this section can provide a potential time frame for what implementation of this design could look like over the coming years. Depending on your available time and energy, adjust this as you see fit.
YEAR 1: 2015 Because you still have not had much time to live on this piece of land and observe it, spend this year paying close attention to the site. I have provided a basic sense of the different processes and dynamics of the site but it will be beneficial in the long run to observe the land through the seasons before you implement some of the more permanent elements. How exactly light shines on different areas and how water flows through the site will obviously change through the year so be extra cognizant of this. These are the elements I would focus on this year: Building a 2 or 3 stage compost facility next to the kitchen door. Begin creating annual and perennial beds: sheet mulch for annual/perennial planting zones and nursery. Start planting some, cover crop the rest. Adding soil amendments according to the soil test recommendations, and composted manure for the garden beds would be beneficial. Begin preparing planting spots for some of the major trees and perennial bushes – plum, almond, hazelberts, Nanking cherries, elderberries, chokeberries. This could be as simple as digging some holes and filling them with woodchips, compost, and any soil amendments. Inoculate any wood chips with Wine Cap Stropharia. This is a simple and quick way to set the productive landscape in motion. Observe the most traveled paths throughout yard Observe rainwater flow through the front yard, in order to get a clear sense of where exactly the swale would be most effective Continue collecting biomass for mulch, compost, sheet mulching etc. Begin gathering materials for water catchment (ex. wood for support structure, 275 gallon IBC tote/ rain barrels), and trellises/espalier (posts, cables). The fact that these aren’t priorities means you can use the few years to keep your eyes peeled for free or cheap materials. Gather logs for shitake mushroom inoculation in the winter to inoculate spring of year 2 (2016).
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YEAR 2: 2016 Inoculate shitake logs in the early spring Plant the main trees: plum tree, almonds and begin developing guilds. Planting the almond trees will depend on where you decide to site them. If you decide to site them adjacent to the cedar hedge I would plant them this year. If you decide you would like to replace the cedar hedge with the almonds, you can cut and remove the cedars this year and plant the almonds or hazelberts. However, if you plan to eventually harvest rot resistant posts from the cedars, you can let them grow for a few years until they are big enough, harvest them and then plant. Build raised annual beds Continue planting and developing perennial beds Continue planting perennial trees and bushes Dig swale and create the main path and berm, plant with cover crop or perennials Sheet mulch for raspberry patch and plant it Gather materials for water catchment system (wood, 275 gallon IBC totes, rain barrels)
YEARS 3–5: 2017 -‐ 2019 Continue planting perennials in the beds, berm, and throughout the yard Use what you have been observing in the perennial gardens to guide further actions. Observe what is working well and what is not working well and help guide the evolution of the space based on that. Create espalier trellising and plant nitrogen fixing legumes to improve soil fertility Create more permanent paths Build rainwater catchment system Sheet mulch for herbal ley and plant Plant out lead remediation Build solar dehydrator
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES Slow and steady
The features and elements described above create a glimpse of a potential landscape for your yard after years of development. Even if you get the help of friends or hire people to implement the design, it would be more beneficial to develop it slowly, rather than all at once. That way you can adjust things as you develop them and observe how they integrate into the landscape as a whole.
Mulching has a number of benefits for both annuals and perennials: it prevents weeds, helps keep moisture in the soil, fosters an environment for soil microbiology, adds organic matter into the soil as it decomposes and protects bare soil from the sun’s rays.
Observe and interact As you know, ecological systems are not static: they are dynamic continue to grow and change through time. Some plants will do poorly or die, some will do well, and some will thrive. Thoughtful observation is therefore essential to understand which features or species are working well and which are not. While we can make educated guesses based on a site analysis, it is impossible to know ahead of time exactly what the land will favor or reject. We must be ready to change and adapt our plans based on what we can observe and learn from the landscape.
Protecting trees In the fall to prevent rodents from girdling the trees in the winter, wrap plastic cylinders or 1/4-‐inch hardware cloth around the trunks. To adequately protect the trees cut it to be at least 12 inches tall above the soil and bury it a few inches into the ground.
Spread mulch once or twice a year with whatever biomass you may have, favoring more woody material rather than leaves or grass clippings, although most anything is better than nothing. Woodchips are one of the best mulches for perennial plants because as they decompose they help create a fungal dominant soil, which is ideal for perennial plants (think of a forest – mostly perennials and a soil rich with decomposing wood and fungus). If you have access to it, an ideal mulch is hardwood racial wood chips, which are wood chips chipped from branches 2 ½ inches in diameter or less. These contain an especially high level of nutrients, minerals, and an optimal carbon to nitrogen ratio for perennials. When mulching your plants and trees, mulch to about the drip line of the tree (as wide as its canopy spreads) and leave a gap of a few inches between the mulch and the tree trunk, i.e. a donut shape. If you apply mulch right up to the trunk, it will rot the tree trunk.
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APPENDIX Plant Catalog These descriptions were created using information compiled from the books Gaia’s Garden (T. Hemenway) and Perennial Vegetables (E. Toensmeier), the Fedco Trees catalog, the St Lawrence Nurseries catalog, the Plants for a Future Plant online database and John Kitsteiner’s plant index on his website Temperate Climate Permaculture (tcpermaculture.blogspot.com). Thank you to all of these sources for sharing this knowledge! Credits for all of the photos can be found at the end of the guide. In the descriptions below, “self-‐fruitful” means that the plant does not need other plants of the same species near it for pollination and fruiting. Most plants produce more when there are others of the same species nearby but while certain plants of some species require multiple plants for pollination, others can produce fruit alone. Also, because you own Toensmeier’s book Perennial Vegetables, some of the plants in the guide refer you straight to the page in his book as he has provided a wealth of information for each species, far more than the scope of this guide. Almond trees Prunus dulcis 10-‐12’ x same, or larger depending on variety. Make sure to select the Ukrainian varieties, which are the most cold hardy. Almond trees produce fragrant whitish/pinkish flowers and delicious nuts. They prefer well-‐drained soil and partial to full sun. They are self-‐fertile but it is recommended to plant at least two for best nut production Alpine Strawberry F. vesca 4-‐8” tall. Low growing herbaceous perennial. Produces sweet edible berries from early spring to late fall. Does best in full sun and slightly acidic, well-‐drained soil. Great as a ground cover but should still be mulched. Leaves are considered to be blood purifying and diuretic. Zone 3-‐ 10. Arnica Arnica chamissonis Groundcover. Daisy like flowers bloom in July and can be used in salves and oils for bruises, sprains, and inflammation. Do not use internally. Full sun, space 1’ apart. Hardy to zone 3. Blue False Indigo Baptisia australis 3-‐4’ x same. Small deciduous shrub. Sends out vibrant bluish/purple flowers. Develops an extensive root system so is especially good for holding soil and preventing erosion. Full sun. Hardy to zone 3.
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Butterfly Bush Buddleia davidii 3x5’ x same. A beautiful and colorful herbaceous perennial shrub that will attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Blooms in late summer and flowers into the fall. Tolerates part shade but prefers full sun. Chokeberry Aronia melanocarpa Size varies by cultivar, between 3-‐10’ x same. Chokeberry is a relatively low maintenance shrub with edible and medicinal berries. It is native to eastern US, tolerates many different conditions, and is not prone to any diseases or insects. It begins fruiting in its third year, and its berries can be harvested in late July and early August. They must be cooked and are high in antioxidants and other health benefits. Black chokeberry (compared to red) is better in terms of its edible berries. Chokeberry also provides habitat for birds and attracts beneficial insects. For the perennial berm, choose a compact variety that wont grow past 3 or 4 feet such as ‘Iroquoius Beautiy’ or ‘Hugin.’ Plant 5 or 6 feet apart. Self fruitful. Tolerates many conditions: wet, dry, sun, partial shade. Creeping thyme Thymus serpyllum Low aromatic ground cover. Many varieties are resilient enough to withstand occasional foot traffic and will release a lovely scent when you trod on it. A great plant for in between the stones of the paths. Depending on the variety can be hardy to zone 2. Daylily Hemerocallis Perennial bush that produces beautiful bright, edible flowers and flower buds. The leaves and roots are also edible but less appetizing. Attracts hummingbirds and does well in a variety of conditions-‐ wet, dry, sunny, or shaded. Low maintenance and does well in poor soils. Dutch white clover Trifolium repens Nitrogen fixing leguminous ground cover. Great for improving and building soil and tolerates a range of conditions Elderberry Sambucus sp. 6-‐12’ x same. Large herbaceous shrub with edible and medicinal berries. Valued throughout history for its medicinal value; both its berries and flowers have medicinal properties. Relatively low maintenance, although may need pruning depending on cultivar. Add compost to the hole when planting it and give it compost every spring. Very disease resistant and has very few insect issues. Tolerates many conditions depending on the cultivar. Self-‐fertile but more productive when planted in a group and can cross pollinate with different species. Provides bird habitat and attracts insects. Full sun/part shade.
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European Plum Prunus domestica 8-‐12’ x same. Most plums require at least two trees for cross-‐pollination, however the “Mount Royal” variety and a few others are self fertile, which is essential because there is only space for one tree. “Mount Royal” is naturally semi dwarfed and very winter hardy, to -‐50˚F. It produces beautiful deep blue fruit that are sweet and tender, good fresh off the tree, in desserts, jams, or preserves. Fruits in early September. For a fruit tree, plums are relatively low maintenance as they require little pruning and are not susceptible to many diseases or pests, however there are two main issues to watch out for. One is plum curculio, a weevil that damages trees and can combated with Surround, an organic clay based spray. The Fedco Trees catalog (pg 27) mentions that planting garlic around the tree may do a good job at repelling the weevil and they are experimenting with this. The other issue is black knot, which looks like black chewing gum and is not necessarily fatal, but must be dealt with by removing and destroying infected branches. Fruit trees like well-‐drained soil so would benefit from the addition of organic matter to the soil where it will be planted. St. Lawrence Nursery is a good source for the Mount Royal variety as they are grown in zone 3-‐4 and are especially hardy. French Sorrel Rumex acetosa Low maintenance herbaceous perennial with slightly sour, edible leaves. Good in salads or cooked like spinach. Good King Henry Chenopodium bonus-‐henricus 1-‐3 feet. Small herbaceous bush. Low maintenance, perennial leafy green related to spinach, chard, quinoa, and lambs quarters. Its leaves, shoots, and flower buds are edible and are similar to spinach when cooked. One source suggests planting 30 plants for 4 people. Does well in full sun to partial shade and tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Space them 18 – 24 inches apart. No disease or pest problems. Zone 3-‐9 Groundnut Apios Americana Amazing plant: nitrogen fixing, vining, protein-‐ rich perennial tuber. These may do well trellised up the L shaped fence. See Perennial Vegetables, pg 146. Hazelnut Corylus sp 6-‐15’ x same, depending on variety. Deciduous shrub. Full sun will help it to produce the highest quantity nuts but it does tolerate some shade. Not susceptible to many diseases or pests. Requires little maintenance other than standard perennial care and occasionally pruning the suckers to prevent it from turning into a thicket. There are a few different varieties of hazelnut and hybrid hazelnuts so make sure you select one that is at most 12 feet tall and wide for this space; bigger shrubs will not fit unless you keep them cut back. Does well in most soil types and prefers moist soil. Nuts ripen in September and October and can be eaten raw, cooked, or
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
ground into a flour. Make sure to harvest them before all the squirrels do! Will usually start producing 3-‐5 years after planting and can produce for 30 – 50 years. Needs at least two produce nuts but apparently you can plant two in the same hole and they’ll grow together into one bush but you will still have cross-‐pollination. Hardy to zone 3. Juneberry Amelanchier alnifolia 4’-‐25’ depending on variety. Juneberry is a deciduous shrub hardy to zone 4 that produces juicy edible berries with a sweet flavor. Berries ripen around mid-‐July. Tolerates many different conditions but prefers well drained fertile soil and full sun. Leaves are susceptible to leaf spot rust but this doesn’t affect the fruit. Birds also love the berries, which can be very positive if you like bird watching, or negative if you like lots of berries. Some varieties can get very large (25’) so for the berry hedge choose a variety that will be between 6 to 10 feet tall. ‘Regen’, ‘Lee #8’ or ‘Prince William’ would be good choices. Space them 6 to 8 feet apart. Self-‐fruitful but produces better with more than one planted. Nanking Cherry P. tomentosa 6-‐10’ x same. Edible and ornamental shrub that produces ½ inch edible scarlet berries in early summer. Good fresh, for jams, jellies, fruit leather, or pies (although has a pit). Prefers full sun and well drained soil. Relatively low maintenance but may need pruning to keep it down. Attracts birds and beneficial insects, and provides wildlife habitat. Needs 2 or more for pollination. Hardy to zone 2 Ramps Allium tricoccum 6-‐12 inches high. Ramps are an herbaceous perennial allium (onion family) native to eastern North America. Both its bulb and leaves are edible and apparently have a taste in between onions and garlic. It grows well in shaded areas and prefers rich, somewhat moist soil. As part of a guild they can help prevent grasses from invading. Very resistant to most pests and diseases. Zone 4-‐8. Sea kale Crambe maritima Low maintenance perennial kale! See Perennial Vegetables pg 109 -‐110. Solomon’s seal Polygonatum biflorum Perennial shrub with many medicinal properties. According to the Fedco Trees catalog, “Native Americans used the root tea for ailments of stomach and lung and for general debility, and used washed from the root for eternal injuries. Western herbalists use the root as a connective tissue anti-‐inflammatory and to strengthen weak joints and ligaments” (pg 65). Does best in shaded or woodland areas.
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Skirret Sium sisarum See Perennial Vegetables pg 88 -‐ 89 Turkish rocket Bunias orientalis See Perennial Vegetables pg 109 Valerian Valeriana officinalis 2-‐4’ tall. Medicinal shrub with white and pink flowers. Used for its antispasmodic, nervine, and sedative properties: good for anxiety, nervousness, and sleeplessness. Plant 12-‐15” apart in well drained soil. Full sun. Walking onion Allium cepa proliferum Perennial onion that propagates itself when it becomes too top heavy and falls over, planting a new bulb. See Perennial Vegetables pg 83. Yarrow Achillea millefolium Low growing herbaceous perennial with great medicinal properties. Its leaves and flowers are used as an anti-‐inflammatory and as an effective styptic (stopping bleeding). As most bitter herbs, a tea of its flowers or leaves aids in digestion. Its name refers to its supposed use by Achilles’ army for healing their battle wounds. In the garden, yarrow acts as a groundcover and living mulch.
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Building a low tunnel for vegetable production There are a few ways to go about creating a low tunnel depending on whether you want it to be permanent and durable or have the ability to take it down during the summer. You could just build a low tunnel or small scale greenhouse and use it for the warm loving fruits or veggies in the summer like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, or melons and then keep it through the winter for your winter greens and vegetables. Here are a few examples of possible low tunnel designs: This is a more permanent style. You can find a basic description of how this was built at: http://www.everyday-‐vegetable-‐ garden.com/homemade-‐greenhouse.html This is a much simpler style that would allow you to take it down during the summers. This one uses bent PVC tubing however I would suggest using galvanized steel conduit is stronger however and is probably a better option for winter growing. The owner of this tunnel suggested installing a ridge pole that runs the length of the top of the tunnel to provide extra support under snow. Designing the tunnel to be more of a triangle shape rather than a semi-‐circle will help prevent snow from settling on top of it.
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Here is a link to a very quick and helpful video clip to give you a better sense of what a simple and less permanent one could look like and the basics of setting one up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am1Tso2l3kc This is a helpful diagram created by Eliot Coleman and Carl Skalak Jr. that is very similar to what is shown in the video.
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RESOURCES Falk, Ben; Krawczyk, Mark; Dembrosky, Sean; Angelini, Mark; Koch, Erika; Shellenberg, Erik. Whole System Design Permaculture Design Certification Course. Rochester, VT., 2014. Fedco Trees 2015 Catalog. Waterville, ME. Google Earth for satellite imagery "Hardy Fruit Trees Nursery." Our Fruit Trees. Accessed December 18, 2014. http://www.hardyfruittrees.ca/catalog. Hemenway, Toby. Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture. 2nd ed. White River Junction, Vt.: Chelsea Green Pub., 2009. Judd, Michael. Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist. Hong Kong: Chelsea Green Pub., 2013. Kitsteiner, John. "Permaculture Plants: Hazelnuts (aka Filberts)." Temperate Climate Permaculture. January 16, 2013. Accessed December 12, 2014. http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com/2013/01/permaculture-‐plants-‐hazelnuts-‐aka.html. Kourik, Robert, and Mark Kane. Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally. Santa Rosa, CA: Metamorphic Press ;, 1986. NOAA, National Climatic Data Center. Climatography of the United States No. 20 1971-‐2000. Feb 2004 Plants For A Future: 7000 Edible, Medicinal & Useful Plants. Accessed December 10, 2014. http://www.pfaf.org/user/default.aspx. "SoilWeb." : An Online Soil Survey Browser. Accessed October 20, 2014. http://casoilresource.lawr.ucdavis.edu/gmap/. St. Lawrence Nurseries: Northern Climate Fruit and Nut Trees 2013 Catalog. Potsdam, NY. "SunCalc Sun Position and Sunlight Phases Calculator." SunCalc. Accessed November 25, 2014. http://suncalc.net/. Sun Seeker iPhone application Rodale's Garden Answers: Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs. Pennsylvania: Rodal Press, 1995. Toensmeier, Eric. Perennial Vegetables. White River Junction, Vt.: Chelsea Green Pub., 2007
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Photo credits Cover page http://www.wolfcollege.com/wp-‐content/uploads/2013/06/hazelnuts-‐and-‐their-‐foliage.jpg https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/2011-‐05-‐ 19_Stropharia_rugosoannulata_Farl._ex_Murrill_183478.jpg https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7b/Plum_on_tree02.jpg Figure 1: Self created with Google Earth Figure 2: http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/wp-‐content/uploads/Sun-‐path-‐solar-‐PV-‐tracker.JPG Figure 3: Self created Figure 4: Self created Figure 5: Courtesy of SoilWeb Figure 6: http://tcpermaculture.com/site/wp-‐content/uploads/2014/02/Turkish_Rocket_15.jpg Figure 7: http://www.woodbridgefruittrees.com.au/wft/img/cms/espalier/espalier-‐photo.jpg Figure 8: http://www.vizimac.com/wp-‐content/uploads/2013/04/Flowering-‐Thundercloud-‐Plum-‐Tree.jpg Figure 9: https://ecologiadesign.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/permguildclr-‐e1385024111702.jpg?w=470&h=570 Figure 10: http://wickedgoodkitchen.com/wp-‐content/uploads/2014/01/How-‐To-‐Easily-‐Peel-‐Blanch-‐Hazelnuts-‐6.jpg Figure 11: http://www.ameliasaltsman.com/wp-‐content/uploads/2013/01/almond-‐tree-‐blossoms-‐ centralvalleyfarmscout1.jpg Figure 12: http://www.permaculturenews.org/images/swale_profile.jpg Figure 13: http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/images/juneberries_500.jpg Figure 14: http://media3.washingtonpost.com/wp-‐srv/photo/gallery/090609/GAL-‐09Jun09-‐2154/media/PHO-‐ 09Jun09-‐165104.jpg Figure 15: http://sallyspencerflorals.com/wp-‐content/uploads/2014/01/Shiitake++mushrooms+logs.jpg Figure 16: http://leslieland.com/wp-‐content/uploads/2009/05/1-‐stropharia-‐rugoso-‐annulata-‐92760042-‐2.jpg Figure 17: http://perennialpleasures.net/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/a/p/apios _americana_mess_of_12.jpg Figure 18: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4088/5163174600_61dbc600be.jpg Figure 19: http://microfarmgardens.com/blog/2012/11/8/high-‐capacity-‐wooden-‐compost-‐system-‐swallows-‐cute-‐ plastic-‐co.html Figure 20: http://smithmeadows.com/wp-‐content/uploads/2012/05/Wood-‐Chip-‐Fall.jpg Figure 21: http://www.backyardnature.net/n/13/130505cm.jpg Figure 22: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4069/4573591142_9f5d7a20b8.jpg Figure 23: http://s70.photobucket.com/user/kcpea/media/Mobile%20uploads/2012-‐06-‐18_14-‐08-‐50_201.jpg.html Figure 24: http://www.selfsufficientculture.com/data/MetaMirrorCache/www.mayacreek.org_blog_wp_content_uploads_2010 _10_completed_solar_dehydrator.jpg
Fall 2014 -‐Spring 2015
Performed a site analysis of a suburban property that involved assessing the site's climate, geographic context, water flow, solar exposure,...
Published on Oct 20, 2015
Performed a site analysis of a suburban property that involved assessing the site's climate, geographic context, water flow, solar exposure,...