This is Part 2 of dissecting a Permaculture Zone Analysis of our five acres. You can read Part 1 Here.
This is also a continuation of an introductory series exploring my study and application of Permaculture. You can find the related articles by visiting GHC’s Site Index. All of these topics are discussed more deeply during our Workshops and Seminars.
Welcome back! So… you remember what we’re doing?
Yes, we’re talking a stroll around our five acres and looking at space through the filter of a Permaculture Zone Analysis.
Let’s pick up right where we left off last time, since we’ve already covered Zones 1 & 2.
Zone 3 – Area You Manage Rarely
H - This area is seven mature apple trees (25 years old?) which produce well and we’re very thankful to have. I consider this a Zone 3 for now because they’re incredibly overgrown. I’m pruning a little at a time several times a year until they get back into healthy and even more productive shape. The ducks are currently paddocked here so they can help fertilize these poor neglected trees, and also clean up fallen fruit and any apple tree pests that are trying to overwinter now that the days are growing cooler. But putting my ducks to work is a longer explanation for another day and not really relevant here. Pardon the digression… When the trees are better pruned, more sunlight will filter through their canopy, and I can establish other supporting elements here to help out the trees… and save me work (theme alert!)
I - Proposed future spot for bees. I want two hives in each location. The northern letter I out by the road will pollinate the multitude of trees, bushes, herbs, vines, and other cool stuff in the future Zone 4 Food Forest (you’ll see in the next section). We’ll begin in the spring with this one as the wife has only recently lifted her veto over adding buzzing chambers of death to our place. I’m not going to push my luck yet, but hopefully once she sees how docile they can be, and how free the honey is (since she uses expensive bought honey almost every day) we’ll establish a couple hives at the southern letter I to help populate the elements down that way. Yes, spousal comfort levels need to be worked into your design. I like sleeping inside Zone 0.
J - These areas are currently open and get good afternoon sun. I want to plant a couple fruit trees and supporting layers here and keep these up a little nicer than a more wild looking, large Zone 4 Food Forest. As I talk with clients about what is possible at their place, I want it to be clear that someone doesn’t need five acres to grow healthy, sustainable food. “Oh, you only have a tenth of an acre to work with? Please come with me over to this semi-dwarf cherry tree and multitude of other edible bushes, shrubs, vines, herbs, ground covers, and tubers” that all fit in my tiny little oval J area.
Zone 4 – Area You Manage Very Rarely
K - Here’s my future food forest. We’ll talk someday about what exactly that means, but for now imagine a full fledged, healthy forest… except everything growing there, at every level and every layers… is either edible, or aids something else that’s edible. I’ll walk through this area to enjoy it, but will only manage it when something needs harvested or maybe helped out for a change in seasons. Man, am I sick of mowing this. Grow little food forest… GROW! I’m going to leave alleys in between the tree plantings and tractor a couple batches of pastured meat chickens through here. That is a small element that will get managed often inside this larger, rarely managed Zone 4 element.
L - This is a small timber harvesting plot. Since this gets southern exposure, I want to selectively and responsibly thin out the trees in here to help the remaining trees remain as strong as possible. What I harvest in here is already being used for our winter firewood. I’ll replant as I go to utilize the southern sun… just not exactly sure with exactly what yet.
Zone 5 – Area You Never Manage
M - I love walking through our woods. Every time I do, I learn something.
- Why does the creek divert right there? I should think about it and see if I should mimic it in the garden.
- What’s up with this erosion pattern coming down the hill? Hmm, I wonder if that’s what’s happening to the culvert under the driveway.
- Pretty cool how squirrels and birds instinctively jump or fly to a higher perch when I walk through here. I should add more elevated elements to the chicken coop.
I tread lightly and try to disturb as little as possible. If a tree falls in here, I let it be. I don’t take rocks out because they’re probably somebody’s home. I don’t divert or dam up the creek. I look. I listen. I observe. However, I do make a few exceptions. I hunt out here (remember the 9 foot tall Zone 1 deer fence?) and forage to take home great stuff like autumn olive berries, wild garlics, black walnuts, morel mushrooms, and much much more.
The last thing I’ll mention is that this is a macro Zone Analysis of the whole property. It’s just as important to take the next step and create micro Zone Analyses of each space and element. For example, I have a border strip in the largest Zone 1 garden area that is about 3 feet wide by 100 feet long that I don’t manage at all as Zone 5 habitat for beneficial insects and the like.
So that’s it. Did you enjoy your look around?
Question of the day: What would you change or improve from my analysis? Have you done something similar with your place?