Blog Archive

Saturday, January 20, 2007



1) Start with a soil test in spots around the varied terrains of the land.
2) Create a landscape design.
3) Bring many loads of materials for composting to the site and immediately commence sheet composting in open flat pasture, if any available.
-Within two to three months, the sheet-composted areas will be ready to plant as seedbeds, which would be in time for a fall garden of leafy deep green vegetables, mesclun and salad greens, herbs and perennials.
4) Build a series of compost bins and assemble materials for heap composting. (A water source is needed for this project.) In 12 weeks, with three turnings, the first batch will be ready for use. A new batch can be started every three weeks in the series of bins, so that, for the entire season we potentially can make 8 to 12 batches before the winter stops us. This would be a huge source of fertilizer for all our growing beds and shrub hedges and, in particular, for the holes we dig in the fall for spring planting of fruit and nut trees from FEDCO.
5) As soon as the ground is sufficiently dry, we can create water catchment systems that are both above and below ground. These will immediately create areas available for sheet composting in any terrain that requires terracing. The open water areas will immediately attract water-loving insects, plants, microbes, amphibians, birds...
6) Create a parking lot and begin sheet-composting around its perimeters in preparation for the planting of flowering hedges, the beginning of our public park area.
7) Hand-dig a small area that is fertilized with manure and azomite to become a nursery for bench-grafted fruit tree seedlings, kiwi and grape vines, nut-producing trees and shrubs. Portable fence cages could be constructed to place over these nursery beds of small woody plants. Winter protection would be added later. This nursery would be mulched and kept weed-free and carefully monitored for problems such as apple borer.
8) Forest-Garden volunteers will attend the March programs at MOFGA that enable us to do bench-grafting with the expert help of John Bunker and Mark Fulford and other FEDCO and MOFGA personnel.
9) Obtain American Elm seedlings and plant on the edge of the natural wetlands down the hill (if we have any).
10) Plant 25 back-crossed American Chestnuts that we order from the American Chestnut Cooperatives Association. These should be situated near infected sprouts that are naturally growing in the woods. (See details of their volunteer test plot program in which we will be participants.)
11) Plant white oak and red oak acorns in the upland areas where nurse trees are present. These seeds are often available at the MOFGA Scionwood Exchange.
12) Erect arbors and plant grapes, roses and flowering vines beneath to be fertilized with compost later in the season as each species dictates.
13) If we can obtain some free plants, start getting blueberries and other berry plants in the ground, deeply mulched, ahead of the 2008 Spring order.
14) With grant money or donations, build or install a wooden tool shed and purchase equipment and hand tools of all sizes and teach the care, maintenance and use of these tools to work crew members, especially children.
15) With the same resource money, place a screened-in gazebo and some park benches for the comfort of the public.
16) Build a composting toilet which can be done quite cheaply with the specifications from Gap Mountain Permaculture 'The Cold Climate Mouldering Toilet'...The base of this toilet is a concrete enclosure that must be emptied every 6 months and does not leach into nearby areas.
17) Erect a beautiful sign near the entrance to the parking area with an area below that has a large space for the posting of demonstrations of the day with their scheduled times. This should be on both sides for passersby to see.
18) Get in place all educational programs that involve young children, especially those that are already organized by community members, such as Wildlife Tracking and other nature studies programs and FEDCO's Seed-Saving program for children.
19) Select a site for private family plots and begin landscaping and sheet composting to create a bedding system that will be ready for use in the Fall or the next Spring. This component will need to be researched before beginning, as there are many excellent examples around the country.

This garden will be in a separate section from the demonstration Forest-Garden.

All of this work in the first year will be small-scale. Many of the participants are experienced gardeners who know how much is feasible to take on. One of the beauties of human-scale food crop production is that every shovel turn is work and time, so we are forced to go slowly and consider every step. Sheet composting opens up large swaths, but only after a careful placing and layering by hand, a forkful or shovelful at a time.

Slow and steady wins the race.