The Milkwood Food Forest (or Forest Garden) Design which was recently prepared for Milkwood Permaculture Farm by Dan Harris Pascale identifies patchwork areas for forest planning and succession but importantly for preparatory soil observation.
One of my on-farm tasks over the next month is to ensure preparation of access paths and soil in time to support the learning outcomes attached to the Food Forest Design Workshop to be run at Milkwood from Sept 2-4 2010 and facilitated by Forest Ecologist Dan and Milkwood’s Nick Ritar.
This afternoon I cut open 14m of access track into the Food Forest and in doing so got up close and personal with the soil across 3 different patches.
The on-contour path I started work on the Map in brown is adjacent to Patch 3 (the downhill side) and with Patch 1,2 and 4 above it (the uphill side).
I cut firstly in Patch 1 alongside the roadway which is area of established acacias and other young but functional support species and fruit trees. The area also has great protection from the western sun and cold westerly winds provided by magnificent Yellow Box eucalyptus trees.
I then cut through to Patch 2 and then just at dusk through to the middle of Patch 4.
From Patch 1 to Patch 4 the density of tree plantings becomes significantly less with the ground more exposed.
Here are my notes taken in observation of the soil as I cut through these differing areas:
” comment on the soil at the level of the lowest access path –
I am cutting the track open (the FF access path) and mounding the swale out of the material.
- In Patch 1 the soil is of good quality. it has a red crumb and is moist. It has 5-6 earthworms per m at the established forest end
- In Patch 2 the soil is still a red crumb but not as moist. It has 3-4 earthworms per m
- In Patch 4 the soil is compacted and dry. It has 1-2 earthworms.
there are a few rocks of a range of sizes in the ground – hand size to soccer ball.
placing rocks around the beds for thermal mass micro-spots”
(Milkwood Food Forest Design courtesy of Dan Harris Pascale)