Quarantine sheltering has brought me to my mom's property in midstate NY. She has a beautiful house at the edge of DEP watershed land. Immediately to the east and south of us is a reservoir.
I would love to create a food forest or flower meadow in some parts of her yard. Her soil is degraded in some sections, where you can see that grass is growing in patches. I've identified some problems that I must address first, and am open to ideas!
1- groundhogs- We've got 3 or 4 of these little guys wreaking havoc on flowers, and they tore into our compost. We're getting a trap towards the end of this week and will hopefully transport them to a local state park once we've caught them.
2-deer- they eat anything my mom has tried to grow. for this reason, we can't have a vegetable garden, unless if we decide to build a hoop house for it. my short term solution is to introduce native plants and flowers that they surely won't eat.
3-poison ivy- grows like crazy at the edge zone. this is a big one, since my mom's reactions to P.I. have recently gotten worse.
4-ticks and spider mites- after trying different solutions for years, my mom finally got someone to spray Malathion in our yard, specifically because whatever doesn't get eaten by deer or groundhogs, gets destroyed by two-spotted spider mites. I'm waiting for the chemical to break down a bit before I plant anything. We also had our last frost just 3 weeks ago. As for the ticks, she's worried that a floral meadow will bring them in droves.
I know our soil is probably quite acidic, because we have a number of evergreens. We also have a crabapple tree, a Japanese maple to the south of our house, and a very sad little apple tree that has been ravaged by caterpillars for too many years. Thoughts on revitalizing it, or creating a polyculture?
I'd love to plant an evergreen guild in the east yard, with blueberries and elderberries. We have daffodils, bloodroot, and forsythia growing naturally all over.
Other things include varieties of Hyssop, catnip, pollinator flowers, poppy, bergamot, lemon balm, yarrow, and clover to help the soil.
This is a shot of our yard from our front doorstep, facing eastward.
the northern area behind the pool has a lot of light. (you can see the reservoir in the distance)
this is where she suggested that I plant my meadow flowers
just look at this big, beautiful, empty lawn! those trees mark the edge of DEP land
Hello Marcela. Nice to see that you are inspired to assist your mum on her property this spring.
You've laid out quite a few challenges here so I hope some of our other permies will weigh in. Regarding the challenge with deer, we found a very satisfactory solution in what is called a double-deer fence. There are various version of it out there but one of the systems we've used with great success is in one of the pictures posted on this webpage of ours. It's about halfway down the page: https://midwestpermaculture.com/our-land-based-projects/
In the picture to the right, all it is is a wire fence (4 or 5 feet high) with a single cord mounted about 30" away from the outside of the fence and 30" high. The deer just do not want to jump this fence. I love it.
Hope this helps... Cheers... Bill