In this video, I re-pot Elm trees that I started from seed last year. During the process I talk about what I did to start them which was really easy and, now that I think about it, everything I used to start them was free! Seeds from gutters, reused pots and regular garden soil were all the supplies I used for this project.
In this video, I plant a variety of trees on our new homestead. Unfortunately, I don’t really have much time to spare this year for messing around with trees, instead I am more focused the yard site, my brothers wedding and our impending twins. Still, I wanted to get a wide variety of trees into the ground to see which do well.
In a previous video, I reviewed a few nurseries I was interested in buying trees from online. With all the other things going on this year, I only ordered from two of them. The trees finally arrived and when I unpacked them I noticed differences in how the nurseries packed their trees. In this video, I discuss what I thought of the packing and shipping of the two companies and get started on planting.
With the arrival of the babies getting closer, we have been extremely busy. So much so that we spent the prior weekend vehicle shopping and finally purchased a mini van but at the expense of not having the time or energy to get our usual Tuesday video out. This last weekend, I spent an afternoon helping my brother mark a fence line and clear brush and I figured that would be a great opportunity to quickly film an interesting video. Things were going great until I checked my footage at the end of recording and discovered the mic had been off the entire time. Still, it was a fun day hanging out with friends and having a few beers. I managed to salvage the video with a voice over but it would have been more entertaining had the audio been captured.
Here is a quick tutorial of the online solar planning tool PVWatts. This tool will help you gain a better understanding of the actual solar power that can be generated on your site and it’s FREE!
Matthew records the stream flow after the spring thaw. 2017
This past weekend we decided to take another look at the property during the spring thaw. We wanted to get a better idea of where water was flowing and pooling on the property so we could not only determine future potential pond locations but also design our driveway and yard site to be free of water issues. Hastily made driveways and yards often end up having water issues that are not seen until well after the work is done which can make rectifying the problem can be expensive and time consuming. We want to avoid this error.
We have a plan to keep our driveway as close to on contour as possible to avoid creating mud holes or areas that are susceptible to erosion during extreme weather events. Not having a steep grade also means less chances of getting stuck while getting into or out of the property during the winter months; steep driveways can be almost impossible to traverse when icy. As we walked along what will most likely be the driveway path, we identified one area where water appears to accumulate. Having the driveway cross this area will probably prevent proper drainage, so we will have to take this into consideration when planning our final design.
The yard site itself will be up on one of the hills on the property next to established trees. Normally, building up on a hill can be problematic because you are exposing your house to the wind. While you may end up with a great view, the wind can be really annoying when you want to be active outside and makes miserable winter days feel so much colder. Additionally, leaving a house open to the wind can create unnecessary heat loss. Luckily, this location already has quite a few trees for shelter. If we clear out a small pocket within the existing trees we should be sheltered from almost all directions especially the prevailing north and northwest winds. With the tree coverage and driveway length this area offers sufficient privacy from the road.
After noting our building site observations, we checked out some of the valley lines we had identified from the topographic maps we created of the property. These valleys, while not showing visible signs of erosion, funnel a large amount of water and would be prime areas to build dams and create ponds in the future.
In this video I demonstrate how to create a combination, aerial and topographic, map in ArcGIS Pro quickly and easily. I then go through the steps needed to create a printable layout for the map in any size you like.
My First Topo Map Tutorial
A while back I heard that you could use topographic maps in the design process of a permaculture farm which sounded to me like a great idea! Since we bought our homestead back in October, I have been looking for quality topographic maps of the land with little success. One place I looked into was mytopo.com. While they allow you to purchase topographic maps in print or as a digital file at a reasonable price, unfortunately, they didn’t offer the type of detail on their maps that I needed for planning our farm.
After spending a significant amount of time searching for detailed topographic maps, I came across one by ESRI which is very detailed and useful but what I really wanted was a map with satellite imagery overlapping the topographic lines so I could also see where existing trees and structures were.
Eventually, I came across a mapping program called ArcGIS that had the functionality to overlay these two types of maps. They have a free 60 day trial which means you can probably get maps of your property for free! When I set out, my intention wasn’t to get to get free maps but it sure is nice. If you plan on getting into permaculture design consulting ArcGIS looks like an invaluable mapping tool that is worth paying for. I played around with the program for 3-4 hours and barely scratched the surface of its capabilities!
Here is a brief tutorial on how to make topographic maps of your property using ArcGIS Pro. These maps can be used to get a better understanding of the water and energy flows on a property and give a different perspective than you get from the ground. Permaculture designs can be applied directly to the maps by hand or potentially designed right in ArcGIS although I haven’t learned all the features needed to do this yet.
**Update** I have a better tutorial for making a map here. You may still want to watch this video as there is a bit of information not covered in the second video.
**Update** In the video I mention that 1:6000 is the best detail on the topographic maps but 1:2000 actually provides better detail (1 meter elevation lines!) so even more detail than I originally thought which means it will be useful for even smaller properties!
This is the level of detail available. 1m contour lines.
Having maps like this will allow you to understand your land better and think about where roads, swales, trees, structures and ponds would be best located during the planning stage of your permaculture design. Of course, when the actual work is to be done a ground survey will be necessary.
There is a much wider variety of fruits and nuts available to the northern gardener than are commonly grown but you really have to hunt them down. Having more people work with these food producing trees and bushes will increase the odds of exceptionally suited selections of these plants being discovered. Many of the best fruit trees for northern gardens and farms were just stumbled upon in someones yard. The Evans Cherry is a good example of this as it was found in an old orchard in 1976 on a piece of land near Edmonton that was to be leveled for a federal jail. Up until that time the general consensus was that cherries couldn’t be grown on Alberta’s prairies. That tree had been there since at least 1923 just waiting to be rediscovered.
After recording the the first video on cold climate nurseries I came across several more nurseries worth mentioning and felt like another video was in order. I want to stress that ordering early in the year is important because nurseries often sell out come spring time. If you wait until planting time to order you may miss out on many varieties they carry or be past their designated shipping time frames.
Tree nurseries mentioned in this video:
Something I forgot to mention in the following video is that mail order nurseries often sell out of much of their product months before they ship their trees out in the spring. In order to receive the specific product you’re looking for you’ll need to be placing your orders by January and February, otherwise the availability decreases quickly as spring approaches.
I Review the websites of several nurseries I have found online that have the best selection of trees for permaculture projects in cold climate zones. These nurseries have a wide assortment of trees, bushes and shrubs that are adapted to growing zones 2-5. Some of them are focused more on fruit and nut trees while a couple have a greater variety of support and wind break species.
The tree nurseries mentioned in this video: