Having spent over an year in developing water security, fences against grazing cattle, road access to the site, a room to stowaway tools and a basic shelter for overnight stops, the time has come at last to begin planting. Ahead of answering ‘what’ to plant, I cooked up a strategy in answer to ‘how’ to plant. Some basic rules emerged.
The first factor to consider was the project’s mission: to enable 40 people living on the land to be self-sufficient in water, food, energy and cash. For these there would be spaces respectively, for water catchment and storage, for agriculture and for mixed planting of trees for biofuels and marketable produce.
It’s best here onwards to discuss details with reference to a sketch of the land. Anyone attempting similar projects would be well advised to begin with an accurate sketch of the land. A great drawing tool which I used for this purpose is Google’s SketchUp. It’s free and it’s easy to learn. I have used it a lot and most of the sketch in the next page was made using it.
I used government land survey sketches which give precise dimensions. An editable scale drawing is very useful to accurately plan and locate various intended features. A good sketch gives us pause; it’s amazing how many mistakes, that are later regretted, are made when one works without a well contemplated plan.
A fair knowledge of the slopes, features like ditches, existing trees, differing soil types within the land etc will make armchair planning a meaningful and rewarding exercise.