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where to find local help?

Posted by vaherbmom va7 (My Page) on
Sun, May 18, 08 at 18:04

When we built our house 6 years ago a large, steep hillside was cleared by necessity. Since then we've had to stringtrim it--a big cost in man-hours as well as gasoline.

I want to convert this hillside into a low maintenance permaculture with native plants, including edibles, if possible, but I don't know how to begin. Over the 6 years I have planted some fruit and ornamental trees and shrubs to reduce the stringtrimming but installing over an acre of groundcover has daunted me.

I don't have lots of money for a landscape architect nor lots of time to study (though right now I am reading through Edible Forest Gardens, only have on loan til 5/31). Most of the "advice" I'll get from local nurseries and the extension service is likely to be conventional--"put in carpet junipers" (actual quote!)

What is the best and easiest/quickest way for me to make a positive change on this hillside? Who locally may be able to advise me inexpensively?

thanks for any advice!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: where to find local help?

The only place I could find online was the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network [].

Another avenue might be your local Cooperative Extension Service. If the word 'permaculture' throws them, immediately go back to basics and give them the bare bones of what you want: one acre of steep hillside that you want to plant in weed-resisting (possibly native) plants, preferably at least some that produce food.

Other useful info would be degree of slope, type and pH of soil, orientation to sun, temp. min/max, exposure to wind, etc.

The first thing that comes to my mind is berries like blueberries, lingonberries, mulberries (trees, I don't know how large they get), etc. Googling 'small fruits' may produce more info. But the Co-op Ext. should know what will grow there.

The backyard berry book: a hands-on guide to growing berries, brambles, and vine fruit in the home garden by Stella Otto

The backyard orchardist : a complete guide to growing fruit trees in the home garden by Stella Otto

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden by Lee Reich

You might also investigate cover crops, as both a weed control (perennial or self-seeding) and as a source of nutrition for the plants.


RE: where to find local help?

Have you looked into a garden coach? I've found that some of my clients who can't swing a full master plan still get some benefit from coaching. There may be someone in your area.

RE: where to find local help?

I would check with native plant societies in your area or talk to people about doing "restoration" on the slope. A steep slope isn't a great place to have a food garden, unless you terrace it. Plant natives that will help with erosion control. Start working on raised beds/terraces for the area right next to the house. That will be the easiest for you to take care of. The right garden coach would be a great help.

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