We cleared about an acre of pine trees for the food forest. We decided to clear the trees because they were planted too close together and very weak and spindly. We’ve left the stumps in the ground as they will rot within a couple of years. The site slopes gently and is a southerly aspect. The soil is clay, but very rich under the pines.
We used the ancient chestnut beams from the old house to lay out terraces. The aim is to hold some of the rain that will wash down the slope. The rain is plentiful in spring, autumn and winter, but we need to keep the moisture in the soil for the summer months. We are working with the Fukuoka method as much as closely as possible, so we have cut the brambles to the ground with a brush-cutter, but we haven’t done and ploughing or weeding and we’re not using any chemicals. We’ll have to eal with the brambles as we go along.
We then covered the whole area with a thick layer of straw from the fields. Our neighbour cut and rolled the straw, but he doesn’t need it for his cows as he has over 750 rolls from his land apparently!
We will be planting fruit tees and shrubs on the upper terrace and vegetables lower down. We debated using a cover crop or green manure, but the land is so rich that all we really need to do is cover it to prevent as many weeds growing back as possible and to keep in the moisture.
Luckily we had guests here for the Equinox retreat who were happy to help out and roll the straw bales from the well field to the food forest area.