March 10, 2017

A Second Permaculture Hedgerow

Hedgerows are a really nice way to turn fencelines into productive areas. By planting them with various edibles, they provide food and shelter, plus look pretty. Eventually I'd like to establish edible hedgerows between all of our paddocks. Even though our first one has been slow to establish, it seemed like time to start on another one.

Detail from our Master Plan. (Blue is planned but not yet implemented).

This one will be a short one, between the two doe pastures. It's indicated in yellow above (see "Master Plan 2016" for the big picture).

I started with the existing fence and measured out three feet on either side from it. The finished hedgerow will be about six feet wide, which should allow for shrub growth plus access along it's entire length.

T-post pounder on top of one of the t-posts.

Dan usually sinks all the t-posts for our fencing with a manual t-post pounder. Since our fencing is four feet tall, the 6.5-foot t-posts are sunk about two and a half feet. He's 5' 9" and can just manage the height and weight required to do that. I'm 5' 5", and so needed a stepstool to get a little more height.

Because we've had plenty of rain, they were fairly easy to pound into the ground. Once they were all in, I wired cattle panels to the new posts. Cattle panels allow the goats to eat what's growing in the hedgerow without eating it all down. Chickens have access through cattle panels as well, for forage and shelter.

The last step was to remove the old fence which then ran down the middle.

It's a little hard to make out, but there are three rows of fence there.

After removing and rolling up the old welded wire fencing, I set about to remove the old t-posts. I assumed that would be relatively easy to do with our t-post puller.

Alphie is a typical goat, curious about everything!
These are old photos from an earlier post, but they let you
see how it works if you aren't familiar with these things.

positioning the t-post puller
Close up. (We got ours at Tractor Supply Co.)

The trouble was, after five years they were so stuck in our clay soil that I could only remove one with that puller. Then Dan gave it a try and concluded that we needed to pull out the big guns.




Tractor power and a good stout chain made a quick job of it!

Now I have to get it ready to plant. All of those holes where the posts used to be will be filled with organic matter and I will also put in a few mini-swales (similar to the one I put in the garden) to help retain rain run-off.

What I've been amazed at is how many earthworms are
in that clay soil with seemingly no organic matter.

I started by transplanting the hazelnut bushes from my original hedgerow. They weren't getting enough sun to be productive, so I moved them here.

Currently working on swales, berms, & transplanting.

The hazelnuts are still dormant so you probably can't see them in the above photo. I planted them in the swale berms. I still have to mulch the foremost swale, rake out the lumps of clay, and continue planting to get the soil covered.

The timing worked out well because it rained last night after transplanting them yesterday. Leaf buds are just forming so I hope they'll be happy here.

Hazelnut bush with just-forming leaf buds.

Time will tell.

28 comments:

Michelle said...

Why didn't you leave the existing fence as one side and put in the second one six feet from it?

Ed said...

I've always wondered about those t-post pullers. We've always just started off with the tractor (with front end loader in our case) and pulled them out with a length of chain. It works but is a two person job so one person isn't going up and down the tractor all day. However, it does result in some slightly crooked metal posts from time to time.

Leigh said...

Good question. The original fence is welded wire with squares about 2"x 4". The cattle panels have big enough openings that the goats can get their heads through, so the hedgerow serves for forage as well as production.

Leigh said...

If you look at the sales videos for those pullers, they always seem to be extracting posts in soft loose soil! We bent a few posts too, but not as badly as the post puller bends them.

Sandy said...

Leigh,

They're times when the t-post puller is the perfect tool to help when removing the posts. If there's all kinds of post, I leave it for hubby to contend with. Tractors are man and woman's best friend.

Leigh said...

I have to say we've gotten our money out of it. Around here, it seems to work best for t-posts that haven't been in the ground as long as those have.

Rain said...

I hope you have great success with the hedges! How come I didn't think that one could grow hazelnuts? Sometimes I feel like such a newbie lol...of course SOMEONE has to grow them. I guess I never imagine nuts as a crop. Since they'll have more sun do you think you'll have a harvest this season? The t-post pounder and puller - what great tools to have! I have to sink some in this summer, and it'll likely be my boyfriend and a large hammer! But I can see these being handy if not necessary if you are installing all of your own fencing. Thanks for the post Leigh! :) I'm learning a lot!

Farmer Barb said...

After I used my spring loaded post pounder, my stomach muscles were so sore, I couldn't even breathe without pain. I admire Dan's strength! I am eagerly awaiting starting my gooseberry swales. They have really fibrous roots and like a lot of chill hours. They start from hardwood cuttings, so pruning time is always productive! Enjoy your hazelnuts!

Leigh said...

Hazelnuts are native to much of North America, but I have yet to get a crop! We get pecans, almonds, acorns, and hopefully hazelnuts one of these days. They are great crops to plan for.

The t-post pounder is very useful! There are manual ones and hydraulic ones, but of course the manual ones are way less expensive. :)

Leigh said...

You have a spring loaded post pounder? Hmm - is it the same as a hydraulic one? Ours is good for exercising chest muscles!

I'd love to have gooseberries! I love gooseberry pie. But we just don't have those chill hours they need. :(

Renee Nefe said...

I was going to ask the same question as Michelle about starting with the existing fence. hope you are able to get your hazelnuts. :D

Goatldi said...

Love our T post puller. I have used it multiple times with great success. Preface that with the oldest post I have pulled were only about a year in the ground. I imagine that if I set out to pull out those that have been in the ground since '11 the results may not have been as impressive. Hedgerows are exciting and may be on my list someday. My friend in the central valley has had great success with them and her goats.

Leigh said...

Yeah, it's all about feeding the critters!

Leigh said...

I'm guessing the kind of soil the posts are in is a factor. Our subsoil is such heavy clay. Then too, when the posts are near a tree line, we've had roots grow over those tabs and make them near impossible to pull. Still, it's a good tool to have!

Mama Pea said...

Great pictures to illustrate this post, Leigh.

Ha, our problem seems to be more in getting the t-posts INTO the ground! I'm sure we must bust a lot of rock in doing so. Hubby gets the job with the pounder as he's 6'2" and that's where height comes in handy.

The presence of those earthworms is an encouraging sight, isn't it? Lots of admiration to you for all the hard work you continue to do to improve your land.

-2 degrees here this morning and I will not be outside doing much other than necessary chores! Have a great weekend.

Little Homestead In Boise said...

Great idea! I love permaculture ideas...

Lynda D said...

G'Day from Downunder Leigh. Such a productive and beautiful (potentially) use of space. Berries galore!!!

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Wonderful job you two! Keith and I have hedge row plans as well and will be using some overgrown and quite wild plum trees. I am 5'1 and can put in posts but because of my height I will start that at an angle sometimes, and well, they could be straighter!!

Leigh said...

Brr! I wouldn't be outside either in that temperature! Actually, our days have been so mild that I've felt guilty if I don't work outside. My usual indoor winter projects are neglected.

Rocks where you want to put fence posts is a problem! Tree roots too. :)

Leigh said...

Me too. :)

Leigh said...

Lynda, so good to hear from you! Yes, I'm really hoping to make this a nice food production area. :) The more the better!

Leigh said...

Ha, ha, I didn't show you all the posts I put in that are slanted. I've thought I should get shorter posts to make it easier.

I love the idea of using wild plums! They should do very well for you and I'm assuming you can use them to make plum jam???

Chris said...

I suspect this hedgerow will do better than the last. The goat barn should add some wind protection, and if it's up slope of the hedgerow, will leach nutrients down to it. I like how it's close to the barn, so you can easily use the stallings on the hedgerow if you want to.

If you already catch water off the barn, encourage the run-off from the tank, to divert towards the hedgerow too. Anything you can do to speed up the growth, will be beneficial. Our greatest challenge is water! :)

Leigh said...

That's a good idea about the rainwater run-off. Dan has part of the hardware to install a catchment tank, but it's finding the time to get it all done. Now's the time though because once summer hits, rain will be iffy.

LeeAnn Wicker said...

Goats will love the hedgerow, but the hedgerow won't love the goats. People rent goats to get rid of multifloral rose which has spread from original hedgerows and the goats love it thorns and all. I can't imagine what they would do to nicer hedgerow plantings.

Leigh said...

Well, the hedgerow is mostly for the goats, which is why I'm using cattle panels for fencing. The goats cans stick their heads through and get some nibbles without killing off the plants! Access to it lets us get some of the harvest too. :)

aart said...

Was wondering the same thing, would have saved pounding in one row of Tposts and removing one row...just replace 2x4 fencing with cattle panels.

Unless maybe that 6 feet *had* be centered there.

Next time ;-)

Leigh said...

It had a lot to do with the way the gate is placed between the two pastures and the revamping plan for the entire fence there and goat yard. One of these days it will make sense!