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Permaculture in a troubling location?

21 years ago

I know that theoretically, any site is a possible permaculture site, but I'm having trouble making the leap from theory to practice. I need some ideas.

I live in the California redwood forest. The soil is damp and acidic and littered with redwood needles year round. My back yard gets about three hours of direct sun in summer and everywhere else gets much less. I can grow ferns, fungus, and native woodland plants. Even the native berry shrubs don't get enough sun to fruit more than a couple of berries. My lot is very small overall-I'm not sure the measurements, but the house is most of it. The house is a 1905 cabin.

Here's what we do already: We have installed a greywater system to reduce the septic load and I have planted natives in back, but they are not useful plants, as far as I can tell. We compost, with and without worms. We heat with logs pressed from waste sawdust and compacted with no adhesives.

We have no room for chickens, no sun for gardening or passive solar gain and very little room to move. We are having some trees removed reluctantly, some that are rotted, and other small redwoods to thin out the area and encourage an old-growth pattern. I can't dry clothes outside because tree leaves stain them and the wet air keeps them damp for days.

Sometimes I feel like the only permaculture solution to this place is to move. Some way down the line, I'd like to move to a larger, sunnier location, but for the time-being, is there anyway to turn this place into a more ecological and human friendly location? I am especilaly interested now as we are remodeling our downstairs and replacing our rotten deck and expanding our yard a few feet.

Any thoughts?

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