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|[+] greening the desert » Texas Chihuahuan Desert Project - Pecans (Go to)||Skyler Weber|
I grew up in NM, now live in So. AZ, near a pecan orchard, actually. So, my thoughts on this project are based on that.
1. Are you planning on irrigating from another water source? If not, the variety of your pecans may matter significantly more. I am unsure about all varieties, but in my area, at least, the pecans seem to require irrigation, mostly because they need consistent watering (even in very good soil). So the monsoon pattern of water, or water that falls and soaks into the ground but doesn't come again for a while, doesn't work well for them. I know the Las Cruces pecan growers do a lot of irrigating as well.
I don't know if it's required for the trees to survive, period, or more for the trees to have enough resources to produce nuts for a crop, however.
2. Do you know if you have javalinas near your property? I believe it's within their range but wasn't sure if they happen be specifically there or not. They are murder on plants as well, but a bit more hefty than deer, etc... and can dig up plants quite a bit more. There are plants they don't like, tend to avoid more, that can work like deterrents (native desert plants). This link mentions them: https://trademarklandscapeaz.com/hungry-javelinas-how-to-keep-these-critters-out-of-your-yard/
These little guys will literally eat prickly pear cactus - not just the fruit, but the actual thorn filled pads. They are tough little guys.
3. pollination - you may want to double check that you have good wind levels in the area when you need them to be pollinated. Likely it'd be fine, but I've had a few plants that need wind pollination and ended up having to hand pollinate because we seem to get almost no wind during the time of year they are producing pollen. :-/
4. Critters - down in this area, critters are going to be drawn as much by water as by food, so if you have any area with standing water, due to the swales, that's likely to draw in critters. They will often dig up damp earth to try and find a source of water, during the hot months, which can be murder on seedlings. I'd had small trees completely dug out by animals as small as packrats and ground squirrels, just trying to get at the water in the ground after a good rain, when the dirt stayed damp for longer. Even larger birds like quail will do this.
re: protecting the seedlings/trees - For a few years, small critters will be as much of a concern as large. I have a lime tree that is about 6 feet tall, now. Most branches on it are thin, 1/2 inch at the most, in the upper areas. More than once, I have come out and little round tailed ground squirrels had climbed the tree and chewed through the branches entirely to drag them back to their nests. Literally destroyed over half the tree. I have had a pinyon seedling 4 feet tall that they chewed through at the base and killed entirely.
I have a lot of growth and native plants around both trees, but it wasn't enough. For whatever reason, they wanted THESE trees, specifically. Although I have had some success in keeping critters away from plants, with native plants, but in these cases, I literally have to surround and 'hide' the protected plants with a horde of native ones, ones that hide visually AND with strong scents. I have haven't tried to do it for anything that's not an annual, though, so I don't know how well it would work in a longer term sense.
I do not know what little critters you will have, but they have been harder to control for here than the larger animals, at least until any trees are much larger. They can climb over or dig under fencing, so you literally may have to keep things enclosed to keep them out, or have some, say, sacrificial pecan trees that are easier to access (if these trees seem to be targeted by the critters)
Making the area a snake friendly habitat can help with keeping the little rodent population down, but you have to plan for that when trying to harvest pecans eventually, as well.
Although it may be helpful to explore a bit about what helps things break down in the soil in that area, before making plans to try to keep critters too far out, at least initially.
I don't know if it's like my own area, but after living here, one thing that I found out is how significantly different things function here, in terms of plant matter breaking down and enriching the soil, due to the temp, the lower rainfall, and the low humidity. Here, it's too dry - even deep in a swale - for plant matter to break down very quickly. Outside of rain events and a little after, the plant matter will just kinda sit there, and termites and packrats and other burrowing critters are actually the main way the soil gets broken down and water and nutrients get into the soil. Mushrooms and other things that require damp to break things down have much less of an impact around here.
Things DO break down, don't get me wrong, it's just much slower than in other areas, which means planning for a longer period of time needed to have soil nice enough for planting the pecan trees.
If one is irrigating, the plant matter can break down a lot more quickly, and that may be needed to start things off well for the first few years, but yeah...having critters involved in helping enrich the soil, at first, might be something to consider as part of the plan, for an inexpensive and hands free approach, as it were.
Also, if you are irrigating, anything that the critters can chew through is in danger - again, they go for water pretty hard core. Have to have things buried or made of metal, etc... if you aren't able to keep a close eye on things regularly.
5. pioneer plants - mesquite does often readily reseed, yes. I have this happen all the time in my yard, so you'll likely run into it. I don't really know of anything that keeps that from happening except something to eat them down, or pulling them out. They have VERY long roots - taproots can be extremely long, and they can spread out their roots 2-5 times the diameter of the drip line of the tree, so it can be a bit of a process to get 'em out. But they do provide a lot of food, the wood is good for smoking, it is food safe, and it is also a hard wood so can be used for soap making, as well.
There are some native lupines that are popular enough that you can get seeds for them, that are also nitrogen fixers, so that can be a nice plant to add to the mix. I think there are a few other native nitrogen fixers as well, but can't recall the names off hand.
It looks like a really nice property. Hope you can make something awesome there.
|[+] greening the desert » Desert Carbon Sink, and other "Greening the Desert" questions (Go to)||shauna carr|
You are absolutely right - I screwed up. Don't know how, but accidentally mixed up my figures for the Asir Mountains with the Hijaz mountains. *head desk* You know, only picking the highest rainfall in all of Saudi Arabia to mess up with, LOL. Thank you for catching that! I'm curious to go explore it more.
re: the ccc projects...maybe a little rose colored glasses? This one is near and dear to my heart, because this is in the part of the world where I live now, and close to where I grew up as well, so I feel more informed about it.
I guess the first thing would be briefly discuss what kind of waterways we have here.
Aside from a few rare areas, the majority of this desert (including where the CCC made their swales) contains ephemeral streams (or arroyos). These are only fed by rain fall, as opposed to underground water sources, and water runs in them for mere hours to a few days after a precipitation event. The vast majority of these rain events happen during a 2-3 month period.
So the majority of this area has no running water during the year aside from rainfall (the only one we used to have was just one year round river, from an underground springs source, and a business group, early on when Europeans came to the area, sunk in wells at the source and the river ran dry in just a few years as a result).
So there really aren't any streams that would run more of the year...heck, our ephemeral streams running even a full week, let alone a month, seems very unlikely. It's just not how this environment works, even without any human interference.
Now, can I say that I've seen the evidence first hand of the damage from the CCC swales? Yes and no.
I have seen no research on it, or any of the other CCC projects in this area. Not really an area the government much cares about right now, ya know?
But I can speculate on what I see elsewhere in this same environment, and even what I've seen in that area (it's a place I can drive to and hike around fairly easily). And from what I've seen, the swales like the CCC one cause problems because of the size of our rain events, and the frequency.
Something that slows down the water a LITTLE is not bad. We have periods of erosion and alluviation in our arroyo systems, but these are sometimes problematic with human habitation and avoiding damage, so yeah, we've got to do something to help slow down erosion, if nothing else. Give the water a teeny bit more time to soak in just a little here and there can help with that, help a certain area. Get a few more plants in the area, a few more animals there.
But while we get a couple months with some LARGE rain events, the rest of the year, it's not uncommon to only have small rain events, and the plants and animals need to get every last ounce of that water to help them survive. Water from just one missed rain event can mean the difference between life and death, at the wrong time of year.
These non-monsoon rain events are often small enough that even a moderate swale and check dam don't slow down the water, they just stop it completely (placement and size matter, obviously). And because the next rain event may not be for weeks, or even months, a lot of the plants and animals downstream can't survive the loss in expected water, so it lowers the biodiversity downstream, even if you get an uptick in plant and animal life at the swales/catch dams.
We even run into this with mulch - many rain events here aren't heavy enough to fully soak into the mulch, so inches-deep mulch with no irrigation can result in the mulch getting a bit of rain, absorbing it, and releasing it back into the air without the plant even getting any water.
So in areas where I have seen the water blocked by something that was too large for the water to fill and flow over during average rain events (which the CCC swales most definitely are), it does more harm than good for life trying to survive downstream from it. At least in my experience.
Hope that makes sense...bit sleep deprived today, so I'll have to go over this later and make sure I'm coherent.
|[+] sewing » Any idea what these are? (Go to)||shauna carr|
Just re: the hook (bottom picture, second from the left) - I know the hook might be an orifice hook, but I thought I'd mention another possiblity.
I inherited a few hooks that look just like this from my great grandmother. They turned out to be vintage buttonhooks, used for clothing (or shoes) where there were a lot, and often much tighter fitting, buttons to close. (I've seen Victorian era and Edwardian era that look similar, but the one I have isn't nearly as old).
They look very similar to orifice hooks, with just some slight differences, but the hook you have looks nearly identical to one of the ones I inherited from my Nana.
(here's some Edwardian ones for sale for an example of how they look: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1050356064/edwardian-era-shoe-button-hook-victorian )
I'm not sure how one can tell the orifice hooks apart from buttonhooks, honestly, but maybe someone else does?
EDIT: I stand corrected on how to tell them apart, LOL. My eldest kid owns a spinning wheel and tells me that, based on the assumption of the size of the hook compared to a crochet hook, that from what they can tell, the orifice hooks they have seen are usually made of thinner metal/wire (like, not too hard to bend it by hand), and the curve for this is common for buttonhooks, but seem to be less common for an orifice hook (in their experience - they are not an expert in spinning), and the orifice hooks they have seen usually have a longer shaft before it hits the handle.
The buttonhook tool they had, the widest part of the hook part was maybe 1/2" -ish, but the orifice hooks they have were smaller than that, at the widest point of the hook.
But scale is a bit hard to tell from the picture, but if the crochet hook is 'average' size, they are thinking maybe buttonhook as well.
|[+] greening the desert » West Phoenix Reforestation (Go to)||jer ander|
Congrats on your project, it looks like it'll be a lot of fun!
So, most of the info I have that might be of use involves smaller specifics and might be more along the lines of 'might be good to research,' but I hope it can help!
First thing: the saguaros. I would highly recommend that you do not dig in around the saguaros if you can help it, if you want them to survive and thrive. They have a very wide root spread - the roots spread out from the cactus for the same number of feet as their height, in all directions (so a 50 foot cactus has a 100 foot diameter total root spread), but it's only a few inches deep - usually 3-5 inches or so.
And the root system has nearly as slow a growth as the saguaro itself, so if the roots are damaged, it takes an incredibly long time for them to come back. A 4 foot cactus' 8 foot root system usually takes about 55 years to grow, for example. So the cactus will have to cannibalize its own internal supplies to try and survive while its roots recovers, if they are damaged. And as we are in a huge mega drought, and may be for a number of years, this could be disastrous for the saguaro, you know?
...as an aside, this is why so many saguaros in cities, with little to no space around them to grow roots, are sickly and dying. Modern landscaping is honestly terrible for saguaros. :-/
re: food production. Are you irrigating, or planning to have any gray water? If you are not, you may want to explore whatever information is out there about...I don't know what the official term would be for this, but basically, at what heat, and at what rainfall level, various plants will stop producing.
I've run into this problem with a lot of desert permaculture plant suggestions before. I get lots of suggestions for what plants will survive a desert climate, but that is NOT the same thing as what plants will still produce food in the same climate. If there is not enough water, your plants will sacrifice making seeds for survival, for the perennials.
Heat can be an issue as well, if you are bringing in any non-native plants - even with shade, some desert plants may struggle with the temperatures + low humidity you are getting out in west Phoenix, if they aren't from a desert that is quite that hot, you know?
re: birds that eat insects - While providing food sources to attract birds sounds good, I would also consider nesting areas and especially shade if you want to attract birds to help keep insects down, as well as a water source if you can manage it, because the drought plus the rising heat, and its impact on plant growth and food sources, is quite literally killing them in AZ.
Small birds have a much lower heat tolerance than we do - the rising temperatures are more dangerous for them. So they were already struggling BEFORE the fire. But with a fire in your area, it's obviously killed off a lot of of the plant life that provided shade and nesting, not to mention food. So they will likely need more support than they might in a typical permaculture site, especially if they have to travel a ways to GET to your site, if the area around you is burnt and doesn't have as much to support them.
(a few brief news stories on the heat and drought problem for birds in AZ- https://www.forbes.com/sites/grrlscientist/2017/02/28/extreme-heat-threatens-desert-songbirds-with-death-by-dehydration/?sh=6fd540452d26
re: the grasshoppers. You mentioned " I heard they only eat plants that are weak, lacking nutrients/ soil life or ph is off. "
Soooo...this information is kind of one of those 'in regular circumstances, this would be true' kind of things.
You aren't in regular circumstances though. One thing I think it's really good to remember is that it's not just your plants that suffered from a pretty devastating fire - every other living thing in that area is dealing with it as well. Your area's entire ecosystem is going to be out of wack.
This is going to be a pretty unique situation, in terms of what your site is going to experience. Before, it was a permaculture site in an area that had a working ecosystem that your site would have...kind of just plugged right into and used, you know? But now, you don't. The fire trashed it. It's...it's kind of like moving into a house in a city, vs. moving into a house in a city that just survived a hurricane and has no working infrastructure back up yet.
It can be done, but I guess what I'd say is that your project may be more impacted by this than is obvious at first glance. There may be a lot of situations you run into that aren't going to follow what most permaculture sites are dealing with, which may mean that for conventional wisdom, 'mileage may vary,' as it were.
For example, anything that eats/needs plant matter - leaves, bark, roots, seeds, pollen, you name it - may be dead and gone or could be desperate and potentially on the verge of starvation because their food is, as you noted in how much was burned on your property, GONE. These critters are not just going to eat weak plants; they are going to eat everything, And if you plant a lot of plants, and the area around you is still devastated from the fire? Well, it's going to be like the plant version of the Field of Dreams: if you plant it, they will come.
And the predators of these plant eating critters ALSO got decimated by the fire. They may be too small in number to keep the grasshopper population down at this point.
Or something needed for them to survive/have babies/thrive in your area may no longer exist due to the fire, so they might be living in other areas until your area can support them again and they come back.
So basically, dealing with how messed up the fire has left everything is likely going to be an ongoing issue, because it's going to be added on to the mega drought that was already stressing the animals and plants, plus it's a desert, so it takes animals and plants longer to come back from stressors already.
So for example, exploring what pollinators are still around may be a good idea. Like, most of our local bees are ground dwelling - how many of them can live through fires? How far do the local bees travel to find pollination sources and is that far enough away that the fire would have still impacted them so you won't be getting local bees for a while? How were bat habitats affected in your area and how will that impact pollination? How were butterflies and moths impacted by the fire? How is the local bird population after the fire - did it hit during nesting season, for example?
I have no idea what the answer to these questions is, obviously, but...yeah, I think it may be really helpful for you to explore that so you know what difficulties you may be facing. They are going to be really distinct, but honestly, I would think that the information you get from this process could be really valuable for others who might be trying to help areas that are also devastated by fires and other natural disasters.
Oh, and re: pests as well - one thing that may be good to look out for is what trees/bushes you want to put in and how drought stressors impact your plants' natural protections (or impact the critters that provide some protections).
This was an issue in New Mexico about 10-15 years ago and is still a problem. The Pinyon pine there has a bark-beetle that can be a problem, but like with the grasshoppers, typically it was considered to only be a problem with unhealthy trees. However, the defenses healthy trees have to keep the beetle away turned out to be highly impacted by severe drought, and so when the drought started getting really bad in NM, the beetles absolutely decimated the pinyon pine population across the state. Between 40%-80% of the trees died, depending on the area.
And goodness, rereading my post, gotta say sorry; this post comes off a bit doom-and-gloom. I know it's more 'look out for' than 'this is good to try.' Let's just say that I have a lot more 'oops, screwed THAT up' experiences, so I know a lot of what NOT to do, or what to be worried about, and less of what TO do, sometimes.
Good luck with the site, and I look forward to seeing how it's going!!
|[+] greening the desert » How greening the deserts is Primitive! (Go to)||shauna carr|
I am wondering why if people just utilised understanding about some of these basic aspects, they do not understand that everything is solvable and no problems should exist. Money is worthless.
The only real issue that exists is ignorance!
I definitely agree that ignorance is an issue, and that a lot of folks don't bother to look at new information to really learn about it, or what it can do. I do agree that problems are solvable. although sometimes the solutions may not be what we like. And I 100% agree that good solutions for global problems may often involved generations of effort. That 'plant a tree that your grandchild will enjoy the shade from' kind of attitude.
But I also think that we, currently, HAVE a lot of ignorance. We know a lot about the natural world, but we also DON'T know a lot about the natural world and how it works. And while I am all for trying to make changes now, even if we don't know everything, making changes for long term futures without acknowledging our ignorance and without funding the thousands of studies we need when we have a LOT of ignorance, is what screws us over, you know?
We need to know a lot more about how the world works to make many long term plans truly successful, so I think we should be researching like mad, along with making plans.
I mean, just a small incident to make my point. I live in an area that is part of the migration path for Monarch butterflies. The milkweed they eat have been killed off a lot by urban environments, so the scientific groups that support these butterflies got together with local botanical groups and found some good milkweeds that were easy to grow, could survive well here, and could help the revitalize this section of the migration corridor.
And instead, it screwed them over worse. Because it turns out that the local milkweed that the butterflies use - which are harder to grow and more expensive to get seeds for - have adapted to this particular environment to die off earlier in the year that other milkweeds do. And THIS is what prompts the monarch butterflies to start migrating further south at just the right time. Now, though, we have a TON of milkweeds that don't die off, and the butterflies stay too long, and then more of them are dying when they finally try to continue their migration.
This is just a tiny thing, but... animals and insects migrate, and they require certain conditions when they do, and we don't KNOW all the conditions. We don't always know what attracts them or repels them (which matters when we might have migrating pollinators, and potentially even migrating predators of these pollinators, and we want to have 1 acre farms that lay along a migration path for them). This would be an issue, but it's just a teeny, tiny issue among the whole host of issues that we need to take into consideration to make something as breathtakingly grand as trying to set up a system where no one is hungry and we can have sustainable cities and farms.
We need to know how all our ecosystems work together. We need to know more about how plants are connected and communicate with each other. We need to know how plants and animals and an environment interact, for every environment, to a DEEP level, if we want to be changing things on a grand scale (what pests exist, what keeps them under control, how do the animals and insects alter the current environment and what does it DO for the environment that we may need, how is the bacteria/worms/fungus in a particular soil impacted by different light or plant growth than it usually gets, how does this impact the soil, and on and on).
Otherwise we end up with another monarch butterfly issue, or dung beetle-toad disaster in Australia, or the 'suppress all forest fires' crap that has so damaged a lot of US forests and meadows now.
Truly, I want to see human being do better, but...we have a long way to go before we KNOW enough to know HOW to do better on a large scale. We're working towards it, I truly believe that. I think we just need to remember that our knowledge about how the world works IS still a work in progress, and not a completed one.
|[+] greening the desert » How greening the deserts is Primitive! (Go to)||shauna carr|
I have a few concerns about this, but the main one is this: just because something isn't obviously useful to humansf, doesn't mean that it isn't important, or that we should simply change it to fit our human idea of what we want or like.
A good example is the everglades in florida, over 2 million acres of what humans considered unusable land (coastal marshes and wetlands), so that much was filled in with excess dirt from elsewhere so people could build on it. Only it turned out that these marshlands served the purpose of protecting the inland areas from the rising sea levels, high winds and storm surges that come with the hurricanes that are common there. By making the land more usable for humans, we instead made other land more dangerous for humans.
Natural deserts (as opposed to man-made areas suffering from desertification) have purposes too and I think it is a bad idea to treat deserts as though...well, as though they are an empty lot in a city that we just need to improve and build on.
They are not. Many plants and animals only exist in deserts and would go extinct without them, for example. Basins in deserts also act as significant storehouses for carbon. There are likely other uses deserts have in the world, but I don't know them... wouldn't be surprised if they haven't been studied all that much. Because we humans are pretty good at NOT studying things we don't see an immediate use for (which is why we didn't take care of the everglades, as we didn't know what they did until they were damaged and weren't doing the job any longer).
But also, in re: to deserts and resources TO green them up...it's just not sustainable.
Yes, many cities dump a LOT of usable resources...which is not sustainable for THEM. If a city is not recycling its water, is not making itself a closed, self-sustaining system...it will run out of resources, you know? They will not be a sustainable source of water and resources for greening a desert because they aren't a sustainable source, period. And they never will be.
About 1/3 of the entire earth is considered arid land (hyper-arid, arid, or semi-arid). That is 1/3 of the world that does not get enough rainfall to NOT be arid.
The world is a closed system...we are not going to be getting more water here. So the only thing we can do is shuffle the existing water around, which means that we would have to eliminate the high water areas to enable eliminating the low water areas. Or at least, we'd have to if we don't want the cities to turn into man made deserts because they used up all their resources and gave them to natural deserts to turn them green. If we wanted to keep EVERYWHERE somewhat green and usable, we'd have to start taking water from high water areas, like rainforests, and distribute that around, too.
Because again, we cannot change the fact that planet earth does not have enough water to make everywhere green. And eliminating deserts is, IMO, as concerning an idea as eliminating the rainforests would be.
All that said - I DO think that using the waste and water and other items from cities IS a good idea. I think making things sustainable is a good idea. i think trying to fix man made desertification is a good idea. I think helping areas that are dryer than normal due to man-made climate change is a good idea.
I just think we should change the question from 'how can we change things to be better for humans' to 'how can we change things to be better for the world that humans also have to live in.'
|[+] wildfire » Helping land recover after wild fire (Go to)||Anne Miller|
this website might be of interest/use to you as you are looking at replanting: https://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
It is a website by the US fire service, their 'Fire Effects Information System,' and if you enter in some plants you know grow in your area, you can get a ton of information about what species tend to grow with it, near it, what comes back first after a fire, all sorts of things. Most of it under their 'species review data' tab, that will pop up once you search for a plant, if they have a tab for the particular species (they have the data for a lot of them, but not all - I think they can find info by common or latin name, but can't recall right now).
I have used it to help me figure out some tree guilds for certain native species, as well as figure out what to plant some of my native plant areas with, on my property.
|[+] perennial vegetables » Growing and interplanting polycultures of perennials with annuals in the hot dry arid climate (Go to)||Yana Samir|
I'm not certain some of my growing experiences would also work in your area, but I will pass on what I've experienced, see if it will help. I live in a slightly cooler area - 37-43C is the common temp during summers, but can go up to 47C every once in a while. Winters a few degrees cooler, often little to no water then, and while mid-summer we get some monsoon rains, the crops have to survive the hotter 'dry' summer month before that, so a lot of folks here have that 'let it go dormant during the hottest season' mindset as well (although then there is planting just after it, when rain comes.
So, to answer your questions:
1) Sunflowers have worked well as shade here - I choose some local varieties that a local conservation group sells that grow very tall, and are more heat adapted, but they die in the summer heat, so I have shade left over from them.
Corn is the same, but needs more water. But a row of corn does well for providing shade as well. I also use some heat adapted varieties of these.
Have used small bamboo/wood poles to make a tripod kind of shape and grown heat adapted beans (tepary ones, around here) over the poles to provide extra shade.
amaranth is common here as well, although I don't use it as much so I'm not sure if it might have a bit more of a 'choking out' issue with other plants.
Also, while not a specific plant, a technique to help provide shade has been to plant things too close together. For example, tomatoes. Planting bush tomatoes (indeterminate) really close together, so they are growing into each other, ends up making this much denser planted area within the bushes. So while the outside fries and turns brown, it leaves this inner area that is cooler and a bit more humid, a little micro-ecosystem, and can stay green and still give tomatoes for longer. Some years, it means I can keep the tomatoes alive through the summer, where they will start producing again after the heat ebbs a bit. But some years, it just makes it last longer than it normally would, is all. Again, I tend to use some local varieties that are desert adapted (we have a local library that has a 'seed library' where people can donate seeds of the garden plants that produced. They are trying to build up a collection of desert adapted varieties, and so far, seems to be working. )
Mexican yellowshow (Amoreuxia palmatifida ) - I love this particular plant. They are small herbaceous bushes that only poke green above the ground when it is over 37C and they get a little water. The leaves are mild and edible (raw or cooked), the seeds are edible (raw when tender, cooked when hard - but small seeds/beans), the flowers are edible, and if you get a big crop and can dig a few up, the root is edible as well (cooked or...dried, I think). When it starts to get cold, and they get no more water, they die back completely, so you can't even tell they are there, until it is over 37C again and they are getting some water (they are native in areas where they get between 5-12 inches of water a year, almost all of it during mid-summer).
Asparagus has done well in my area. i planted a patch and forgot about it for a few years when that patch was abandoned, and the asparagus is still alive and grows every year. Needs more water to be thick, but it is still kicking, anyway!
Chiltepin might be a good choice, if you can find the most heat tolerant varieties. these are small, perennial, chile pepper bushes. The chiles are small and round, sometimes only 1 cm or less in size, but most are very hot so you can use just 1-3 for an entire dish, if want only a little heat. Mine wild-seeded in my yard, but always just slightly NE of a large bush or tree, for the shade. But they do well with fairly low water and high heat.
Wolfberry or hackberry bushes- both give berries, both adapted to high heat, but both might require water during mid-summer as both are used to a monsoon season, so...not sure if they would work, you know? There are desert and non-desert varieties of hackberry bushes, but unsure about wolfberry (wolfberry tastes MUCH better though). These can also get quite large, so might do as something to give shade eventually for an entire garden patch, you know?
malabar spinach - this is a climbing vine, with leaves that are thicker, and does well in high heat. Often used here in summers because the spinach doesn't survive or goes bitter with the heat.
Some other plants for seeds or leaves that folks grow here that can be hard to grow elsewhere, that might do all right in your area (but that I don't have much experience with): sesame, safflower (sometimes see the seeds with the Spanish name, Corrales Azafrán), okra, panic grass (a native grass with a very large seed that can be harvested and eaten), chia (used for the seeds), and pignut (spanish name: Guarijio Conivari, latin: Hyptis suaveolens) (used as an herb or to make tea, seeds or leaves used).Some of these might do for shade purposes as well.
Wish I had more in terms of garden veggies, but most of the really desert adapted things here are the larger perennials, like cactus and trees.
As for publications - while this guy might not be a perfect fit, this particular youtuber lives in a very hot desert as well, so often has a lot of desert-friendly plants and advice (this video is where he's visiting another desert gardener, so you get a two for one, sort of. ^_^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHgMrprGgIY&list=PL0SCyGoq8S_eEk33zMgiOJ1Olk0StYgCG&index=3 )
I am sure there are more, but I'm blanking at the moment. I'll pop back in to add more when I think of any.
|[+] greening the desert » How did the US repair the Oklahoma Dust Bowl? (Go to)||Skyler Weber|
I've seen other videos on this area before, with Mollison and others, and I've never really talked about my opinion on them, I think. But what with the discussion on the dust bowl here, I thought it'd be a good time to throw my 2 cents in. I live in this area, know a lot about the local plants and animals (not an expert, but I pay attention, basically), so I'm gonna talk about what I know.
First, I feel rather bad for how Tucson gets portrayed in this video. Because while as a city it definitely still has problems with how water is handled, it's actually got less control than is sort of implied, and what control it does have, it's heading in good directions at least.
Tucson is in a state that is controlled by a lot of wealthy folks who do not give a crud about conservation, of water or much else. So even though Lawton showed that shot of a lush golf course in Tucson, Tucson itself has no control of that. Golf course water usage can't be curtailed by the cities - it's a state regulation, so Tucson has no say in how much water the golf courses in or near it can use.
Tucson IS using too much pumped out water. That's definitely a problem. But it also has a very active water conservation scene in this city - I think more active than almost anywhere in the state. So it has been making changes to try and incentivize both lowering water usage AND refilling the aquifer, up to and including water harvesting infrastructure for roadworks and commercial buildings. Brad Lancaster (the author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands) lives in the city and is one of many that have pushed for water conservation reforms to the city building code and more.
They also have been trying to work a lot more with reclaimed water so that the water used isn't lost forever. So in Tucson is a place called the Sweetwater Wetlands that is an artificially constructed wetland using reclaimed water (https://tucsonaudubon.org/go-birding/get-started-with-birding/great-places-to-bird/sweetwater-wetlands/ ). Salinity issues exist, and are partially addressed by native plants that thrive in higher salinity environments to make it easier for other plants to grow as well (like saltbushes).
And in the same river that Lawton stood in, as of 2019, the Santa Cruz River Heritage Project has been pumping water back into the river, from reclaimed water, to flow near the edge of Tucson and OUT of Tucson. I do not know what salinity issues there may be, but it's spawned a lot of growth in that area, so it's been at least somewhat of a success, so far. (https://www.tucsonaz.gov/files/water/docs/SCRHP_article_World_Water.pdf )
I am not saying that Tucson is great - its water usage is not sustainable. I just felt bad that the city that has such a strong water conservation gig going mostly had the focus on golf courses and pavement, you know?
But that said, this was not the main issue with this video.
The big problem I have with this video is the very reason the video exists: the swales.
There was a lot of talk about how lush they made the area, how rich the soil, how full of plant life, etc...
And most of that's true. The soil there is MUCH better than the rest of the surrounding area. A lot of water collected there; a lot of plants can grow there.
But...well, I'm just gonna use an example to show why I really, really dislike how these swales are talked about.
The Santa Cruz river bed - the dry one that Lawton was standing in for part of the video? Lawton implies that it's dry due to a number of factors.
That is not true, however. That river went dry pretty much due to one action taken by a group of businessmen in 1910 - 19 wells dug to collect water around the springs that were the source of this river. The water was sent via canal to various buyers in the valley. It took them 5 years to use up the water so completely that the springs went dry, and so did the river. So this river has been dry since 1915.
This is what happens here in the desert, though. We have LIMITED WATER. There is not a single water source here that is kept full of water from rainfall alone. All of the year-round flowing water near here is, and was, from underground springs - and there IS no year round source of running water in this valley. The Santa Cruz river was IT.
So the vast majority of the water that the plants and animals use in the desert comes from rainfall, instead. It comes mostly, and sometimes only, for three months in a row in the middle of the summer. Most of the rainstorms will drop rain in small areas, and then the water gets distributed throughout the desert via the arroyos that are dry whenever it is not raining.
Arroyos are an integral part of this desert. They are one of the reasons that the desert has the level of growth it does - which is, as I understand it, higher than almost any desert in the world. They may not be running with water all year round, but for the desert, they are as much a source of life as a regular stream or river would be in a non-desert environment.
So blocking an arroyo, especially a large one, is about as beneficial to the environment as, say...digging 19 wells and draining a spring dry. Which is why the swales - which blocked arroyos - are actually rather awful.
Because BOTH the swales AND the wells draining the springs put extra water SOMEWHERE. They made more plants grow SOMEWHERE.
But they only managed it by taking that water AWAY from everything downstream that used to depend on it. This is not, IMO, a good thing.
If I have water fall on my property and I dig in basins so it is more likely to collect in specific spots, or more likely to collect and soak in than evaporate off the surface? That's good for me and the plants and animals on my property. That's a pretty natural occurrence that I'm just helping along. Same for if there is water that falls ON my property, and I make sure it doesn't run OFF of it.
But there is no such things as making this entire desert lush and looking like that basin behind the swales, not without screwing over other parts of the environment. We do not have enough water in the desert to DO that. The more extreme we make our water collection, in terms of blocking flowing water for our use, the more we take away from elsewhere.
Like, just as an example, that amaranth he points out? It looks like Palmer's Amaranth. It grows freaking everywhere - richness of the soil is not in anyway a necessity for them to grow that thick and tall. Water is the determining factor.
They grow that tall and big along numerous arroyos near my house that only have water for maybe 2-3 weeks a YEAR and the crappiest soil imaginable. They grow in bigger patches when there is more available water, and in smaller patches - including just a few plants - where there is less water. And they are ONLY that lush for a short period of the year. Same for the grass - edges of many, many roads, where there is just a little more water, look just as lush and full of grass and amaranth during the monsoon season as the middle of his swale.
So you can have that swale with a lot of concentrated amaranth...or you could have NOT had that swale and the amaranth would have grown in much smaller patches along miles of arroyo downstream, to be used by a lot more animals, and slightly improved the soil everywhere a little bit, instead of one big patch of 'rich' soil. You could have added bits of stone and other things to slow down the water just a bit, so that the edges of the arroyos had more growth and less erosion, if one wanted to encourage a greener desert.
But the only way to have that dream that Lawton talks about, planting citrus and figs and 'maybe dates,' is if you essentially grab the water in your area, PLUS block water flow from some arroyo.
Oh...and you irrigate.
You're not having pretty much any fruit tree growing here without irrigation of some kind. I don't care HOW rich the soil is - the humidity is too low and the rainfall is too low for the majority of the year...maybe I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that even with extremely rich soil and a bit of shade, a citrus tree is going to struggle with high temperatures, humidity sometimes in the single digits, and not a single extra drop of water for, say, 7-8 months straight.
So...yeah, I know I'm going off a bit here. I find it hard not to, honestly, because I keep seeing videos like this, and then I hear folks get caught up in the idea of 'greening the desert' as something we can do in our area as though it will not have any impact on the rest of the environment around us.
That is not how it works. We CAN have more lush areas in the desert. But to get them to the extent suggested in the video? In the end, we'd have a small bunch of really lush, green areas, and a much drier, deader desert all around them. Which is not a good trade off.
|[+] greening the desert » Desert Carbon Sink, and other "Greening the Desert" questions (Go to)||shauna carr|
I feel like I see a lot of folks talk about greening the desert in a way that seems, I guess I'd say unrealistic? Great enthusiasm, but to the point that there seem to be some unrealistic expectations of what can be grown sustainably in the environment.
We can help our deserts become as fruitful as they possibly can. Deserts can be beautiful. There can be some amazing biodiversity. But it's not the same thing as creating, say, a forest the likes of which Tolkien would be proud of. And I hear so many folks talk about the last concept as if that IS what is possible.
I do not believe it is, and have seen nothing yet that contradicts that belief, at least if one very important factor is part of the equation: sustainability.
I believe the sustainability is an inescapable part of the entire concept of greening the desert, but it gets left out of a lot of discussions about it. Not in regards to sustainability for plant life, for nutrients in the soil, or anything of that nature...but for water.
If we pump out water from the ground, in a desert, to irrigate our plants? That's not sustainable. Yes, gray water helps us use less water, but desert aquifers only have so much water, and with drought (which is happening in my area of the world, for example), water is being pumped out significantly faster than it's refilling the water table.
So when I hear someone talking about using water pumped up from the ground and also using the gray water from it to irrigate anything so that we're using 'so much less water' - which I hear a lot of folks talk about around here - it kind of feels like someone talking about a great deal they found on a new car when they are already in debt and have no money in the bank.
We cannot escape the fact that rainfall as a limiting factor for plant growth in a desert, if we truly want something to be sustainable. Deserts only get 10 inches of rain a year. We can set things up so that there is more shade, there is richer soil, there is more retention of moisture in the soil and as little evaporation as possible...we're still not getting more than 10 inches of rain a year. And that will only sustain a certain number of plants and animals.
And it's not enough to make a huge forest, typically. At least not of the kind I usually hear a lot of new-to-permaculture-and-deserts enthusiasts talk about.
Although sometimes, the problem seems to be a kind of disconnect between the details of various success stories and the reality of the average individual's permaculture project.
The success stories for greening the desert that involve 'lush forests' seem to fall in one of two categories:
1) Areas that had man-made desertification that was restored successfully BUT that have higher rainfall than a true desert. For example, the Al-Baydha project is in an area that gets an average of 21 inches of rain a year, twice that of the highest desert annual rainfall.
2) Areas that are in true deserts, like Lawton's Jordan project, that got a lot of water from a non-rainfall source to start everything off, and which typically involve plans of extra water sources to be continually added. Sometimes it's added gray water, which is not sustainable.
Or they are in a rare place in the desert where there is an oasis or year round running water, which is very location specific and not a plan many of us can follow.
Or someone is blocking water that is running from a larger source, which is great for them, but screws over every living thing downstream. like the CCC-built swales in Tucson, AZ.
I'm not denying that these success stories have some amazing growth. They do. But so far, I haven't seen any that didn't involve rainfall PLUS extra water to achieve it. If anyone has some that they've found, I would honestly love to see it, truly, but I haven't found any myself.
So nothing we do is going to change the fact that there is not enough water to support more than a certain level of vegetation, period, end of story. Brad Lancaster's books on water harvesting have a great chart in them about the water needs of various trees and shrubs, and I think it is worth a read for anyone wanting to green the desert because you find out really quickly that your land is only going to support X amount of vegetation.
If a desert is only appealing to someone because they plan to make it as green as Ireland, they're likely going to be disappointed, I think. If they are just looking to put in a lot of desert vegetation that is in the best possible situation so they have more growth than the typical area around them? They're likely to be happier.
Now, philosophically, the question of 'should' we green all the desert we find? I don't think we should. There is a lot of biodiversity that exists because of deserts and would die if we actually succeeded. Not to mention that there is an ecological purpose for deserts, just like everything else. For example, deserts are a net carbon sink. Current research is suggesting that bacteria located in aquifers beneath sand and in the sands itself in at least some deserts are capturing carbon from the air. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080401200451.htm).
I do think that we can still help deserts become the best they can be, in a lot of areas, but I think deserts BEING deserts is still a good thing, too. I'm admittedly a little biased - I grew up in one desert, moved to a more temperate area and a coastal one, and ended up back a desert because I love being IN a desert, harsh as it is.
And I also am a huge fan of the whole concept of 'planting a tree that your grandchild will be able to sit under.'
Of course, I say all this and my land? It's not sustainable right now. I have some plants I have to irrigate. I am still working on water harvesting. I don't have things all completed or even all figured out on my land. I'm just very aware that some of my plants aren't sustainable in the long term, water-wise, is all.
Thanks for asking these questions. These are things I've been thinking a lot about too.
EDIT: LOL. I read your question and didn't get to answer it until much later, and totally forgot you had already mentioned the whole carbon sink thing, ha. Great minds think alike, I guess. ^_^
|[+] forest garden » Hello from northeast New Mexico! High, dry, windy plains, mostly flat, need advice on how to start. (Go to)||Caroline Metzler|
Oh MAN...I had a nice long post and accidentally erased the entire thing. argh. I grew up in NM, so familiar with the area, at least, and living in a nearby desert in AZ now.
So, quickie redo.
Desert food forests need a higher ratio of support species to food forest plants in the end. Common start, as you may have seen, is 90% support and 10% food to start off with, aiming for 10% suport, 90% food by the end for a food forest. Desert food forest, you're likely going to have more of a 66-75% support species end goal, because the more severe the climate, the more support the forest will need permanently.
2nd thing - wind break species sound like something to focus on a lot, yeah. And things that add to the soil.
Personally, I like to use as many native species as I can, because you're going to have the best luck for them to survive when they have to grow in more severe conditions. One great resource for this is the fire effects information system put out by the US fire service. It's aimed at helping know what grows with what, in native conditions, as this is really useful for when there are fire and we need to know what was lost, what to replant, etc...
So if you search on their site for a plant that grows local, like, say, prickly pear cactus, you get this:
It has lists of ecosystems, various lists of plants that grow with and near the prickly pear, and so on. It takes a while to go through, but it has really helped shape my plant choices, when I know what WILL go well together, and is native, and then I can research them and find out what might be useful for various purposes. And it creates a really unique, region specific support species system that is honestly kind of neat.
i also recommend checking out books and info on wild edible in your area. Many can be support species but you can also still get some use out of them, a little. A nice starter book I liked was the wild edibles of new mexico by charles kane (the arizona one has some species that I also found in NM, but not in the NM book). Many of these were plants that grow will in my yard, and I simply let them grow now rather than pull them out, which was worth the price of the book, honestly.
Last couple of things...
If you are looking to plant pinyon pines, you may want to make sure you have the soil a bit better and more able to hold water first, even though they are native. The pinyon pines lost about 2/3 of their numbers in the entire state over the last 20 years or so due to drought. They are susceptible to a particular beetle there and can't fight it off as well when they have too little water, which is why they were killed off in droves. So it IS a good plant, but a bit more water availability will make them more resistant to the local pest, you know?
asparagus - that stuff lives through anything, seriously! I have some I forgot about for 4 years, in a spot that got NO extra water, but only had a bit of shade and ground cover. We got 5-12 inches of rain a year those 4 years, with temps over 100 frequently in the summers...asparagus did just fine. It is still kicking. That stuff is gold! ^_^
And...critters. If there is not a lot of growth around you, you will become a critter magnet for EVERYTHING. You will not be able to stop this, so you'll have to plan for it.
Me, I try to make it as much of a feature as I can. I have fruit trees where the birds get the top and I get the bottom, and the poop from them helps the tree. I plant a lot of native edibles that I don't have to water or care for on the edges of the property, on the outside of any fencing or other barriers, and often, the critters will eat those easily accessible foods and not venture further in because they are so desperate for food. And their manure will often add to the ground on the edges and can help with planting more plants there later.
Also, desert animals can find water better than anything else in the world. They are often desperate for THAT too. This is why the common advice to save on water to try and irrigate in the evenings is, well, really bad advice in the desert. Because what happens is every nocturnal animal in the desert (which is a LOT of them) will smell the wet dirt, assume that means water is available, and will dig their way into your property to try and get to it...and then dig DOWN into the wet dirt - that is holding your plants - to try and find the water source.
One way I've managed to take care of this is to actually have a small water source I keep for animals either AWAY from where I water the plants, or on the other side of a barrier hiding my plants, where any animals attracted to the wet will find water available and not have to investigate further to find it.
I know this isn't perfect or all encompassing advice, but hope it might be of some use, anyway!
Take care, and good luck. Look forward to hearing how it goes!
|[+] personal challenges » Wife’s not sleeping. We need help! (Go to)||William Kellogg|
Another person here who has an experience similar to your wife's. I had very intense nerve pain, especially around my neck and upper back. Had a few concussions and whiplash issues that impacted it. Hearing you talk about the huge amount of pillows, trying to just find a way to get comfortable enough to sleep, is SO relatable. I was so exhausted it was insane. Depressed, could not function, just unbelievably exhausted beyond words. I also couldn't take pain meds because I have really bad reaction to them. So truly - just huge empathy for what your wife is going through.
My husband reacted very similarly to yourself. I honestly remember suggestions like yoga, meditation, not eating before bed, not watching a screen X hours before bed...pretty much everything you suggested, aside from the cannabis, my husband also suggested. He said it out of a place of concern and love, at the time. I'm sure you are coming from that place as well.
After years of this, both the advice and the pain, I managed to find a way to decrease the pain and finally get to sleep, and it was unbelievably amazing. So I'm putting this out here as someone who has been in a similar situation with the pain and with my husband, and managed to get to a good place.
Of course, this may not be the same solution that would work for your wife and you, but I wanted to pass on some of what I went through in the case that it helped.
So, first - while it is obviously really important that your wife try to find a way to sleep or cope with her level of sleep, another thing that has a huge impact is support during the rest of the day in ways that don't have anything to do with sleep.
Pain grinds you down. Sleep deprivation grinds you down. You've already noted that she just seems overwhelmed and depressed, so I'm sure you've seen it.
So the question I'd ask is this: is there anything you do, or can do, to help her with some of her tasks during the day, when she's struggling like this? Wasn't sure if there was something you are already helping out with, or can help out with.
For example, what does she do to support the household? Does she cook? Laundry? Garden? Take care of finances? Clean the house, feed animals, repair things, etc...?
Just asking things like, "hey, I can make dinner tonight so you can relax a bit. would that work for you?" means SO much. It shows that you care. It shows that you are thinking of her troubles in a realistic way, like the fact that sleep and pain make everything else so difficult that help is needed. Honestly, they should be handing out gold medals to every person who manages to accomplish anything with chronic pain and that level of sleep deprivation.
I say this as someone who has done these tasks both with and without the pain and fatigue. Gold. Freaking. Medals.
Because I know you understand that your wife is exhausted and depressed and suffering. It's clear in everything you say. It's clear you care very much. But at the same time...the suggestions that you have made seem like you maybe are missing some of what's going on, as well, to be honest.
Like, you have talked about the TV screens and eating and meditation and all of that, and it absolutely does impact sleep. I would not argue against any of these; they DO impact getting to sleep or staying asleep.
But, and it's a big 'but,' these all impact 'normal' sleep. These are all things that can cause problems for the average person who isn't really dealing with anything else that impacts their sleep. They are great suggestions for people who are struggling with screwed up sleep cycles and circadian rhythm disregulation and problems with calming the brain and such, so that they can sleep.
Your wife is not one of these people. Your wife has pain. Pain is the reason your wife cannot sleep.
And all these other suggestions are...well, they actually relate to one of the flaws in that nail in the head video that's been discussed already. The man in the video can see what's wrong, but the wife needs more emotional support, or to vent, etc.... And many on here have suggested that your wife doesn't want you to solve the problem, they want to be listened to.
There is one problem with this assumption, though (in the video as well). This presumes you know better than your wife what the problem is. Like, it feels like you are seeing nails in your wife - TV time, too much stress, screen time before bed, etc... - and keep trying to find ways to encourage her to take them out.
Your wife keeps saying that it might help, but the pain is the biggest issue (if i'm reading things right - I tried to read all the responses). Which means...it may not be a case of 'it's not about the nail' because she doesn't feel listened to but more a case of 'it's not about the nail' because there's a huge wound in back of your wife's head - the pain - that is much more of an issue than a few measly nails. And taking out the nails won't make much of a difference until the wound is triaged, basically. And on top of that, trying to take out these nails is using up a lot of energy that your wife doesn't have, so that's a lot of effort for very little in return.
And I can tell you, as someone who went through this and was on the receiving end, it feels so belittling to have someone ignore what you are telling them. It feels like they are treating you like a child because 'they know better.'
Your wife does seem depressed and overwhelmed, which yeah, that'll mess up the mind some and does make you worry that she's not seeing things realistically. However, she is a fully grown adult who is also the one living in her body, and dealing with the pain and crushing fatigue, and trying to tell you what problem needs to be dealt with first (the pain) because it is the reason for the other major problem (the lack of sleep). Ignoring her because you think she must be wrong, because it doesn't match up with what you experience in your body, or what you think she should be experiencing in her body, is going to make it hard to support her.
We can't fully support people if we don't believe what their reality is, you know?
Which actually applies to the concept of 'leading by example,' too. I say this with all the care in the world: please don't do that.
If you want to do things to improve your life, that's great. If you feel like it's hypocritical to make suggestions that you aren't already following, that's also a great reason to alter your behavior.
But if you are choosing to do things in the hopes that she will see what you do, and see something in it that she should emulate? Yeah...that just makes it feel like you aren't listening and are trying to find a roundabout way to give her the same suggestions that you were already giving her.
We don't lead by example for equal partners, you know? Maybe we put our money where our mouth is, but 'leading' always carries that suggestion of knowing more than the person you are 'leading,' of you being right and her being wrong, and you trying to 'show' her what she should be doing.
That just never feels good to be on the receiving end of from another adult that you want to respect you as an equal. It'll often make you feel frustrated because you are trying to show your wife something and it can feel like she 'isn't listening' if she doesn't start emulating what you are doing. And it can make her frustrated because she'll feel like you are saying the same things you were, but in a different form, and make her feel that you aren't listening to her, either, you know?
I don't know in your and your wife's situation, but for mine: not a single thing my husband suggested ended up helping until I dealt with the pain. And some actively made it worse - like yoga and chiropractics. Both of these can cause a lot of problems if there are spinal injuries in the mix.
And I wish I had answers for you about dealing with the pain, but I'm just going to share what helped make things better for me. Might give some ideas of something to explore, potentially, at the very least.
For me, lowering inflammation was a huge positive for lowering the pain, but avoiding anti-inflammatory foods didn't do enough to even notice. I had other issues that were causing increased inflammation that impacted the pain.
First, I found out I have an auto-immune disease (celiac disease). Much more common in women. Fatigue, inflammation, and depression are some of the most common earlier symptoms of the majority of these diseases, so they can be hard to diagnose - I only got tested because another person in my family got diagnosed and that means you are a higher risk to have it yourself. I had none of the traditional symptoms of it at all.
All auto-immune disorders can cause widespread inflammation in the body, so any chronic pain is typically much worse. When I got this, and got treatment, pain AND depression were better, because inflammation was causing them both (check out inflammation and impact on depression - it can cause depression that cannot be treated by something simple like behavior modification).
I had pain lower enough I could finally sleep again, just from this. It's honestly worth at least checking if there are any family auto-immune disorders that she might be at risk of developing.
But figuring out that I had a food intolerance that ramped up my inflammation helped even more. Had to do an elimination diet for that, because it ended up being a chemical sensitivity and there are no accurate tests for that (the current test for sulfites, the one I had problems with, has about a 50/50 accuracy, so...not much help).
Obviously this is not something everyone has, or even everyone has the energy to do, but if someone can help set up a diet and cook the meals for her, and she's willing, might be worth exploring to see if it impacts the pain.
I still have pain flares if my disease or my diet alter (I have other problems that impact it as well), but it's so much better now it's unrecognizable. Eating anti-inflammatory foods helps now, but it didn't make a dent in things before.
I know biofeedback helps some of my close friends with chronic pain that nothing seemed to touch, not even drugs. There are some expensive systems that do it but that people can buy themselves now, as opposed to going to a doctor for, but I don't recall the name right now.
And also, I am really sorry if this comes across harsh. I am truly not trying to be so. This is an emotional subject for me that caused a lot of pain between me and my husband, especially when I felt that no matter what I said about my experience, what he focused on what what he 'thought' my experience was vs. what I was saying it was.
I just hope that you and your wife can avoid that and have a much better outcome and that you and she can find some peace and harmony and get some sleep. :-)
|[+] soil » Help - can my soil be improved enough to plant a tree ASAP, using what's in my yard? (Go to)||Douglas Alpenstock|
Oh thank you, everyone, so much. The majority of my plants are either native or very desert/drought/heat hardy, but these two babies are really the first that are not as hardy as the rest and all of a sudden I was thinking that nothing I knew could possibly be the same and I was going to kill these two trees off and life would be over, LOL.
Thank you all for helping, seriously.
Okay, this is fantastic and thank you so much for sharing it. I grew up in NM! I still have friends and family and I am completely sharing this idea with them. And on top of that, a lot of my native trees in my yards are legumes and I have TONS of dried legumes hanging off of one of my trees that I completely forgot about, so don't even have to buy and beans, LOL.
I am really curious if anyone else has used something like this in an area like mine. The soil here is so naturally high in calcium that it sometimes inhibits some of the nutrients the plants can uptake, from what I understand. So I know a number of gardeners here won't use bonemeal or add eggshells to compost because of this, but I don't honestly know if bone meal or eggshells actually have enough calcium to be a problem, or if it's just a worry folks have that is based on partial understanding, you know?
I'm really curious if anyone has any idea if bone meal is a good idea in high calcium soil.
Ha, thanks - this one I got, LOL. Been using pee for trees for a bit now, but knew to water it down, and if I did NOT know, this would have saved my trees! ^_^. And thank you for all the other tidbits of info as well.
And definitely in this climate, water is a big limiter. Heat and an extremely low humidity level kind of round it out so trees desiccating and dying off due to the heat is frustratingly high. But I have a good spot for these two trees, thankfully. The heat is actually one reason they are getting crappier soil, rather than some of the areas where I've had things growing for a while and improving the soil: I have what I hope will be a good micro climate set up for these two with some surrounding desert hardier trees and shrubs, it's just that the soil is still crummy. Crossing fingers this will work well for them!
|[+] soil » Help - can my soil be improved enough to plant a tree ASAP, using what's in my yard? (Go to)||Douglas Alpenstock|
thank you! All righty, I will just get those suckers into the ground and see how things go, thanks!
|[+] soil » Help - can my soil be improved enough to plant a tree ASAP, using what's in my yard? (Go to)||Douglas Alpenstock|
I have a tree-planting version of Apollo 13 right now: time crunch to get 2 trees in the ground before they die but with limited resources to try and make it work...anyone wanna help me see if I can get my trees planted using only what resources I've got on hand with a very limited time frame? ^_^
I need to plant 2 small fruit trees (just got them a couple weeks ago, pre-purchased them a while back from a friend who was growing a cutting for me). I had planned to set things up nicely for planting over the last year but, well, illness and no job = no energy and money to get amendments and...you get the picture.
So, here's what's on my little Apollo 13 yard rocket:
- two small trees to be planted - they need slightly better soil than native, but not by a lot, just 'not as crappy as I have.'
- heavy clay/hardpan soil in the area they are going to go in
- some sand, gravel, small rocks, and larger rocks (most 6-8 inches across of less) that can be used in and around planting area
- a small bit of homemade compost and could probably make periodic compost tea from plant waste from cooking
- a lot of hard and soft wood branches (newly cut and some on the ground for over a year).
- a lot of weeds and bunch grasses and some leaf litter (mostly dry now, but some are still green) that I can chop up and use
- water that I can irrigate the site with
- a little chelated iron I have left from other gardening.
- a small wood chipper, digging tools, and plant chopping tools
- oh, and pee. I am completely willing to pee on my trees.
- Oh, and I have NO earthworms (dirt is literally too hard for them), so I have no worm casings, and have to plan for there to be no worms eventually settling into the dirt unless I put them in later after saving up to buy some.
That's all I have to work with.
Any suggestions for a way to improve the soil enough for the trees to survive planting? Any ideas of what I could do with the limits I've got? I know there are better ways to do this over time, but the trees are not looking great so I need to get them in the ground ASAP, you know? And might be fun to experiment anyway, honestly.
I was thinking of adding some sand to try and lower the density. Some chelated iron because the soil seriously has low iron. Was going to make and add mulch after the planting, and maybe dig in some of the compost (I have a garden too that I use it for, so I'd rather not, if I can avoid it).
But when thinking of what else to add INTO the soil, I'm not entirely sure.
I know wood chips need nitrogen to break down so it's not recommended to put them in the ground WITH a plant at first, since they deplete the nitrogen for a while, but I have questions.
If I add extra nitrogen to the soil for the first couple years (ahem...again, I can pee), would that be enough to accommodate the extra nitrogen needs for long enough to help the trees live until the wood chips have broken down and the soil is richer?
Does it take less time if I make wood chips of wood that's been laying on the ground for a year or two (my climate is VERY dry, so they aren't rotted, just very desiccated), or does it not matter if it's green and new vs. dry and old? Do hard woods or soft wood trees take varying amounts of nitrogen to break down, or just different amounts of time?
Do grasses and smaller plants deplete nitrogen the same way, or as much, as wood chips do, or would they do better in the soil?
Does adding iron have any impact of soil improvement in terms of impacting how things break down or anything? I have very little technical know-how of some of the process, but thought I'd ask in case there was some well-known issue that I'm just ignorant of, you know?
So yeah, I know enough to see some pitfalls (probably not all) but not have very many answers. Any ideas from people much more experienced than me on if I might be able to squeak by and get these trees to live if I plant them?
I appreciate any and all information or ideas ya'll can give me!
|[+] permaculture » Permaculture Victories: tell your stories (Go to)||Frank Paulson|
It's a small victory, but it made me happy.
I talk a lot about native plants that are good for the soil here in the desert, that attract bees, how to put in sunken areas to collect water.
My adult eldest child - who has no interest in gardening or permaculture in anyway - will now periodically comment on the yards around us and what they could do better. Stop putting trees on hills, stop covering the yard in rocks to make all the water drain off the yard, put in more of X and Y tree to add nitrogen.
The fact that they have literally zero interest in plants and STILL know this is first, hilarious, but second, is great to see when they talk to other people about plants and giving suggestions and I know they talk to their friends about this sometimes, so the info. is getting spread around to people to ARE interested in plants. ^_^
|[+] composting » re: allergy safety (Go to)||shauna carr|
Just a friendly safety reminder that food allergens may not fully break down during composting, so there can be allergenic proteins still present in fully composted material. This tends to be more of a problem for certain allergens than others (as an example, lemon proteins will denature if they are exposed to 200 F or so, while wheat proteins don't denature until they hit around 500 F).
If you have any friends or family with food allergies, it can be helpful to keep track of whether your compost contains their allergens so that they will know what precautions they might need to take, and if it is safe to help with gardening or to let allergenic kids play in the garden dirt.
if you also purchase compost, especially from local sources, it's good to check what allergens may be present as well (peanut shells are becoming more common in the SW USA, for example - https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(11)02130-0/fulltext ).
brief article on composting and allergies, from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) :
Take care, and good luck with your composting!
|[+] conservation » I wanna hear from the Western Drought-Stricken Permies (Go to)||John C Daley|
I'm right in the middle of the SW drought, down in AZ where almost the entire state has been in the two highest drought categories - extreme and then exceptional drought (there's also small sections that are 'abnormally dry,' 'moderate drought,' or 'severe drought.' - no where is out of 'drought' status). For the first time ever last month, officials declared an official water shortage for the Lake Mead reservoir, which provides water for a LOT of the southwest. This declaration triggers supply cuts. In the first cut, going into effect next month, Arizona will lose 18% of its annual apportionment and Nevada will lose 7%. And even Mexico will lose 5% or so.
So we're low on water, and using non-water-harvested water is only going to get worse, and more expensive, soon.
On the positive front, though, the lower half of the state had the wettest monsoon in decades and that's lowered most of the drought status by a couple levels, so that's awesome.
On the negative front, I have been saving up for water harvesting tanks and haven't gotten them yet, so the wailing when I saw all that water not go into a tank was rather loud. ^_^
I have about 1/2 an acre. No wells (not allowed to dig any new wells in my area any longer). Don't have water cisterns yet, but trying to save up to get some. Don't have gray water because the home I bought has a terrible set up and placement for trying to save graywater, so I'm trying to figure that out, still. And I've got some physical disability, so a lot of physical labor is hard for me, so I try to do things that require less maintenance, if I can.
So to answer the questions...
My family is...doing well and not doing well with water conservation. Regular daily life, we use too much water. Working on it, but...yeah, I am just failing there, sigh.
Outdoors, though, I'm doing better.
Here's what seems to work best to conserve water here:
1. Growing native or drought hardy perennials mostly for food, if possible - they use less water. I have mesquite trees, palo verde, some native mulberries (tiny berries), desert hackberry, Turk's redcap, Mearn's sumac (berries), Mexcian elderberry, AZ passion fruit, Mexican yellowshow, coyote melon (can only eat the seeds), banana yucca, skunk sumac (edible berries), cholla (edible fruit buds), prickly pear cactus, other cactus, a couple legume vines from the area, panic grass (trying for this, anyway - I have a hard time with it, still - edible seeds). I have to have a few micro-climates for a couple of these, but at the moment, I water the passion fruit a few times a year when it's too hot, same with the redcap, elderberries, legume vines, and mulberries, but everything else gets no extra water from me at all.
I DO have some non-desert trees, some of which provide fruit, that require water, but they are to help me with certain health conditions, and not good for conserving water, and I would never grow them otherwise so I'll leave 'em out.
2. Using drought adapted seeds and native/desert adapted plants for veggie gardens. Which means MANY traditional veggies are just a no-go. They use too much water, or their growing season is too long (so uses too much water), or they can't take the heat here.
I get some corn, tomato, beans, sunflowers, chiles, and melons/squash from some local sources that are heirloom and desert adapted. Aermenian cucumbers, but not regular ones. I have some greens from heat adapted varieties, like Molokhia (Egyptian spinach), golden purslane, and chichiquelite (edible berries and leaves, but berries have to be ripe, and leaves cooked, or will make one sick). I can manage malabar spinach, these small onions called I'itoi's onion (small, local dividing onions). I allow native amaranth and london rocket to reseed and try to eat that (but for anyone who wishes to try this...fair warning, london rocket is often a no-go. It gets too bitter for me to tolerate at a little above 70 F, and our climate has been heating up to the point that the leaves aren't big enough to eat before it gets to bitter to eat, anyway. So I gather the seeds.
I have tried in the past to grow a lot of 'regular' garden veggies and...it just bites the dust unless I water it a LOT. For years, I kept asking gardening advice from gardeners who were known to be 'good' gardeners and it was always one of three things: they only grew desert friendly crops, they used so much water it made me cringe, or they grew everything in pots where they didn't have to water everything as much.
On a local positive note for gardening and water conservation, there is a lot of local effort to support it. For example, the county libraries in the two largest cities in AZ now have seed libraries. They have information on how to grow the seeds and collect seeds after the plant has grown, and let people use the library's seeds and then, if the seeds were successful, people give some seeds BACK to the library (and thus slowly increase a growing pool of desert adapted seeds) or they buy and then give a new seed packet of heirloom seeds to try and help out that way. It's been very popular and pretty neat to see the efforts being gone through.
3. Another thing I've finally done is accept my growing season here. I cannot express enough how much water can be conserved with this, in an areas like mine.
Plants grow here in the desert MOST during the middle of the summer, because that's when the rains come. There is a little growth in the late winter, VERY early spring, for a very short period, IF there was a small winter monsoon. But spring growth? That doesn't happen here almost at all - it's too hot, too quickly, and to keep plants alive during this period is very water intensive.
So now I plant only in the summer monsoon, or something with a short growing season (like leaves) in mid-late winter (it doesn't freeze much here, so you can pull it off). Some folks here plant 'cold weather crops' in the late fall, but the fall and winter has been getting hotter ( had my tomato plant, outside with no shelter, bloom in mid-december a few years back, which is insane, even for here), and it is STILL a fair amount of water for these types of plants.
Another reason for accepting the seasons and following them is that the temp AND the humidity levels are very dependent on them. In the summer, the humidity goes up, so less water is used. In the hotter parts of the year WITHOUT rain? Humidity can literally drop to single digits for some of the day, which obviously means that plants need a LOT of water to stay healthy and dry to little husks. And the temps here are quite hith, which again, means a lot of water to compensate for that. We usually have 5 months, sometimes 6-7 on a couple bad months recently, where the average daily high for the month is in the 90's-100's.
I KNOW people find ways to use less water, but, well, growing a traditional veggie garden here, with the low humidity and high temp? It costs water. It costs water we do not HAVE, at this point, you know? And I keep hearing a lot of folks in the SW talk about how to 'use less water' to grow their food but it's like there's this disconnect about it, many times. It's like watching someone buy a new car when they are bankrupt, and they are talking about what a great deal this new car is. And you're like, 'yeah, it's a great deal, but you don't have any money, period, so it's not a great deal for YOU.'
...I say this as someone who is still wasting water, so...yeah, not so great following my own advice, just aware of my failures, eekl.
I wish I had water cisterns already, but cost-wise, I can't see that I could have done it.
Wish I had more rock piles - I HAVE a lot of rocks from any digging I do, but haven't set piles up as efficiently as I like. Couldn't do it as well for a long while because I have small kids and the local rattlesnakes and scorpions and centipedes love rock piles, so I had to wait until no one is going to get bitten or stung because of the rock piles.
Wish I had dug things up more, initially, so I had better soil. I AM happy that I let mulch lay where it falls - this has helped the soil a lot and it's been going on for about 10 years or so. But I have insanely hard dirt, caliche in some areas, and the thing is, while the soil might improve, it is SO SLOW in this type of soil that I"m gonna be nearly dead, or actually dead, before it gets more than an inch of nice soil. What has to be done is to literally break up the caliche, and add in other dirt and such, and THEN let the mulch and debris fall. And I am going to have to back and do that, in a lot of areas, which is a bit frustrating.
Wish I learned more about mulch and how it works in my area, so I could have applied it better early on. in areas like this, with so little rain and such low humidity and high heat, following a plan of 'lots of mulch everywhere' is absolutely NOT the way to go. Plant matter has a tendency to desiccate rather than rot and breakdown into nice soil components, here, in any area that isn't getting irrigated or getting more water than the surrounding area. Here, bugs like termites are some of the biggest ways to have plant matter break down. I always think of this fallen log up on a nearby mountain. It fell over and maybe 12 years later, you could see some termite damage, but the log was still there, nothing rotting, no fungus, just...a big log slowly desiccating and being eaten by insects.
This means that a lot of mulch in any area that is not irrigated isn't a great idea. In fact, it can end up with the organic mulch absorbing water and preventing it from getting to the ground (during small rain events) and then just evaporating back into the air and making it WORSE for the plants underneath it. So you have to be more strategic in how much mulch you use and where you put it. Strategic stones can help with things like this, keeping water in the ground without absorbing any of it.
But at least I don't regret not putting in fog catchers, LOL. Fog catchers seem like they wouldn't do great here, most of the year, because the humidity is so low I'm not even seeing dew in the morning, a lot of the time.
I have, but it was a while back and haven't done it in a while. really need to do better about this!
|[+] conservation » I wanna hear from the Western Drought-Stricken Permies (Go to)||John C Daley|
Hey Lori, I know of one possibility for those pots (as well as the terra cotta pots used for succulents for Jay that don't lose so much water): fake terra cotta.
A few years back I was having the same issue with some DIY terra cotta pot ollas not working, and came across an article talking about pots that had a kind of thin shell of...I believe it was cement...and terra cotta surrounding it. I have been hunting for the article again to try and remember all it said, but failing on that so far. I can only assume this inner barrier is to help make them lose less water when used as a regular pot (if it's done intentionally and not some odd flaw in terracotta sometimes - again, can't find the article and can't recall how technical it was, you know?
These are sold as regular terra cotta pots. I have talked with stores, confirming that their pots were true, unadulterated terra cotta, had the pots not work, and then had more than one break (thank you, small children and your destructive ways) and you can literally see this dark gray inner core inside the terra cotta (so...cement, or something else going on, I"m guessing.).
|[+] cooking » Making substitutes for sushi nori (Go to)||Denise Cares|
I'd recommend checking out growing green (or red) Shiso, as a possibility. I think it might grow fairly well in your climate (I'm more south and hotter, and it struggles a bit here).
Green shiso was traditionally used in Japan, in the past, the same way sushi nori is used today, actually, so a lot of the tastes that go with sushi do great with this. If you can grow it big enough, you can just use one big leaf to wrap things up, too, rather than having to go for the whole dehydrated leaf into a sheet deal.
|[+] medicinal herbs » Growing your own Medicinals - What are your preferred choices (Go to)||Cindy Haskin|
I live in the SW USA, so a lot of my choices have to be desert hardy, or I have to work REALLY hard to grow other ones. So some of my preferred choices are:
Mint - stomach, mild plant to bring fever up a tiny bit and cause it to break
Mexican elderberry - can use the same as elderberry found in the east
lavender - lots of uses.
St. John's wort - depression (heat wave killed my plant of this last. year and I'm pretty bummed about it, honestly.
yarrow, skullcap, chammomile, few others
yerba mansa - dry cough
yerba santa - not so dry cough
globemallow - also for cough
quince trees - leaves for a tea that helps with Diarrhea
cove's cassia (Senna covesii ) - helps with constipation
Guava trees - leaves can be made into a tea that has mast cell stabilizing compounds, which can help with inflammation or histamine issues.
Olive trees - leaves can also be made into a tea that has different mast cell stabilizing compounds, which can help with inflammation or histamine issues.
Sacred Datura - varieties exist all over the country by different names, but I don't know how many have similar properties - contact anesthetic, emergency-only help to slow down anaphylaxis (according to my local herbalist, this would be only used in an 'out in the desert, going into anaphylaxis, and you're about to die because you can't get meds/help' kind of situation, as you try to get back to civilization and medical help), but can also cause blindness, heart problems, and death if overdosed, so has to be used with caution. I use it for pain relieving properties all the time, though.
Camphorweed - great poultice for acute injuries with swelling.
desert tobacco - fresh leaf poultice for minor insect bites/stings, like ants
Canyon bursage - anti-histaminic properties in the leaves, use for hay fever and hives.
Wild oregano - infused into honey, good for cough syrup
old man's beard (clematis drummondii) - migraine's - tea out of this is often used for stopping migraines that are just starting (in the beginning stages, like when aura's starting up) but doesn't do much once the headache really kicks in.
Passionflower - calms nerves/helps promote sleep
fig tree sap - good for warts, if applied a few times a day, like one would use an acid or something
garlic - lots of things
onion - lots of things
prickly pear fruit and pads - Inner pads are just as good for sunburn as aloe vera, maybe better. Also both are anti-inflammatory, but better as a consistent daily food to help keep inflammation lower rather than something to help with acute inflammation. May also help lower blood sugar levels - research is ongoing for this.
Mesquite trees - sap can be used to help with pink eye. Leaves can be used as a mild gargle and spit for minor sore throats.
creosote (Larrea tridentata) - Not the same thing as creosote tar. good anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Great salve from this that I use on wounds to help prevent infection. Being studied for uses that might help against skin cancer, even (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138708/ ).
|[+] food as medicine » Bipolar - Natural treatment (Go to)||bruce Fine|
I wish I had more knowledge about helping bipolar, but...there may be something there re: gluten, at least. My eldest has a host of mental health problems plus a disorder that puts her at risk of bad reactions to medication, so diet was something I explored a lot. For her, diet definitely could make symptoms Worse, so altering her diet made a difference. She also turned out to have celiac disease - with no gut symptoms - so going gluten free helped too. But she still has some bad mental health problems, so for her, diet changes are not a cure-all, but more a piece of the puzzle that impacts her mental health.
At the moment, from what I've seen, it is more a case of a lot of correlation with gluten and a few psychiatric disorders, rather than proven causation. Possibly combined with the higher rates of bipolar and schizophrenia in the celiac population compared to the regular population AND the fact that the majority of celiacs remain undiagnosed (based on studies that do random testing and see which positive cases have already been diagnosed). So basically, undiagnosed celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten intolerance, could be a factor too.
But this bit of research might at least give you a place to start and explore, maybe? https://www.tcimedicine.com/post/can-gluten-cause-mental-health-disorders (this looks at gluten and mental health correlations for numerous mental health issues.)
Also, like a lot of mental health disorders, I know there is a growing body of research indicating that nutrition can definitely impact bipolar issues.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26876319/ "An improvement in the quality of the diet should improve a bipolar patient's overall health risk profile, but it may also improve their psychiatric outcomes. New insights into biological dysfunctions that may be present in bipolar disorder have presented new theoretic frameworks for understanding the relationship between diet and bipolar disorder."
None of the above is necessarily going to 'cure' being bipolar. But some folks find that it may improve symptoms, potentially, so again, might be worth exploring.
Personally, I suspect that there can be more than one cause for what we call particular mental disorders (like, some depression seems to be caused by inflammation of the brain, but many things can CAUSE that inflammation, so there could be many causes). So, gluten or casein might help to explore, or might do nothing whatsoever.
|[+] cooking » What wild and homegrown herbs can we substitute for our store-bought spice cabinet? (Go to)||Sherri Lynn|
I"m in planting zone 9a in the USA, Southwest desert.
I also have some wacky allergies, including to a lot of drying agents and preservatives. This has made it so I very seldom can eat any spices/herbs sold at the store, so most of them, if I don't grow it, I can't eat it.
So, for things I've grown and eaten, or found in the wild...
All the typical 'garden' herbs (I know some grow wild where a lot of ya'll are, but most of them don't grow wild here - too little water)
anise hyssop (often for tea, but can eat raw as well, like in salads, or even put into cookies)
oregano - greek oregano can sustain itself here if it's in just the right spot - I had a patch I thought had died, hidden underneath some dead plants, and it lasted an entire year with not watering. Since then, it will sometimes go months before I water it, and it had a patch a couple feet wide for a while there.
shiso (this used to be used to wrap japanese rice balls, in place of the nori seaweed that is often used today -also good rice seasoning when dried)
mint (there IS a local mint in AZ, but hard to find with so few sources of year round running water)
rosemary - the trailing rosemary is one that I have seen reseed on its own here a few times.
nasturtium - I've seen a pepper oil made using nasturtium that looks quite nice, so far.
lovage - I have read before that lovage, if it is cooked a looong time until quite browned, and then cooked more in water, and then the liquid strained and used, might be a valid soy sauce substitute of a sort, but I have literally never been successful in growing lovage, so it's more...something to explore yourself, if you like.
Then there are some plants that are not so commonly used here, or are native/desert adapated.
thai red roselle (sour - used for tea)
mare's tail - grows wild, young leaves used as herb (I've used older ones, too, no problem), slightly spicy flavor without much else - native here and many other places
Agastache spp. - horsemint - good for tea, nice mild mint scent, native
Lycium spp - wolfberry (goji berries are also a type of wolfberry - small and sweet, native
Morus microphylla - native western mulberry, sweet, but not cultivated at all, so the berries are super tiny. like maybe 1/6 the size of my pinky nail, if that.
mesquite - the pods can be ground into a sweet meal, or can be used to make a syrup. Native
Poliomentha madrensis - mexican oregano or lavender spice - perennial small bush, use as herb, tastes like oregano, little stronger, IMO, pretty lavender flowers, native to Mexico
poliomentha incana - rosemary mint, perennial small bush, pale gray-green foliage, use as tea that smells kind of like a cross between rosemary and mint, AZ native.
There is an AZ native rose (the smell tips you off, as the flowers are not large and look nothing like typical roses, of coruse), a AZ native blackberry (Rubus arizonensis ), and an elderberry that is native as well (Sambucus mexicana ). The rosehips are edible for the rose, and the blackberry, and the elderberry can be used like the typical elderberry further east, medicinally and all.
Tagetes lucida, also called mexican tarragon, sometimes I've seen it having wild seeded here, and tastes like tarragon
Porophyllum ruderale ssp. macrocephalum, papalo or Bolivian coriander (NOT the only herb given this name) - strong,, hard to describe - probably work well in place of marjoram, oregano, or very strong cilantro. For seeds, find folks who sell them NOT in a seed packet but a small box - the seeds are listed as having poor germination rates, but I've found a source before who said that they have found that the seeds are quite fragile (like dandelion seeds but thinner and longer) and putting them in seed packets seems to break more and leads to the poor germination rates - I have planted some that were sold instead in tiny boxes and had great germination rate (compared to the poor rates of a previous buy in a seed packet) so I tend to believe these claims.
Porophyllum ruderale ssp. ruderale, quilquiña, - also strong, also hard to describe, similar use as the herb above. Both this and the one above are sometimes interchangeably called by the other name, even among people selling seeds, so you have to make sure and get the scientific name to get he right one.
Solanum melanocerasum, chichiquelite or garden huckleberry- originates from West Africa, but common in Mexican gardens and grows well here. The leaves are actually edible (cooked only, not raw, but I can't recall the flavor) and the berries are small and only edible when ripe (have some toxins present when they are unripe and green). There is a trick to these ones, though - the berries turn purple and dark and look ripe, but the taste is just kinda meh - vaguely sweet, but mild. BUT, if you wait for a while, I've had to wait a week or more, the glossy shine will start to go away, and then the berries are REALLY ripe and when you bite into them, there is more sweetness plus a very lovely, intense vanilla/floral aftertaste - they might actually do well to add to something when vanilla is not available.
cumin can be grown here, but I haven't managed enough to really be of much use for more than a couple dishes.
fenugreek can be grown here as well - the leaves can be used as herbs, or the seeds used as spices - common ingredient in Indian cooking.
holy basil grows well here (ocimum sanctum ), used as a tea, but the scent when you even brush against it is amazing and I love to have it along paths I'm walking on.
Atriplex hymenolytra, hollyleaf saltbush - this plant takes in extra salts from the ground around it, and the leaves can be eaten and have a salty taste. I just got this bush (even though it also grows wild) so I know about it in abstract, but haven't tried it myself. From what I understand, it is one of the plants that can be used to make culinary ash (leaves burned to ash and added to food).
Also, I know the Hopi, and possibly others, burn juniper leaves to make a culinary ash (green juniper ash) that adds nutrients and a particular flavor to a corn-based bread. (video on it - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5OJZoLOPP8 ).
|[+] greening the desert » Anyone else get emotional about lost water? (Go to)||Skyler Weber|
I have plans to buy/build some water cisterns for capturing some of the water off my roof, but haven't been able to get them yet. Some water harvesting earthworks have been put in, but there are still some to go, so maybe half my yard is set to help water soak in when it rains.
But this week...man, it feels honestly emotional to NOT have everything set up. We are having this mega-drought (live in the southwest, USA), and we just got a week of rain for the record books. We got more rain in a couple days than we got in the entire previous YEAR.
And there was so much of it I could have saved if I'd had cisterns already, and it went into my yard instead. It was so heavy, a lot of it ended up going out of my yard, even with some pretty good earthworks set up.
Anyone else in a desert get that feeling of loss when they aren't able to harvest water when there is a good storm?
|[+] rainwater catchment » Help how to re-use a swimming pool I don't want (Go to)||denise ra|
I'll try to get some pictures up!
We are in the middle of what seems to be a nearly week long rain event so I haven't been able to take any photos yet, eek.
|[+] wild harvesting » Harvesting and collecting wild edibles for use in a re-greening project (zone 6a, semi-arid) (Go to)||shauna carr|
I'm just gonna throw everything that comes to mind at ya.
First, Amoreuxia spp., also called Saya or Mexican Yellowshow - this is one of my favorites, but it only works if your temps get hot enough AND you get a summer monsoon, so if you aren't in a desert that gets that (like the sonoran desert where these originate from), then this might not work for you. But...it is a small plant, maybe 2-3 feet wide, herbaceous, completely dies down after the summer and pops up when the temps get up to high 90's/low 100's and there is some water. The flowers, the leaves, the seeds, and the tuber it grows from are all edible, not bitter, and have no thorns. The leaves, flowers, and immature seeds can even be eaten raw.
Next: Achillea millefolium, yarrow - leaves can be eaten as a culinary herb.
Agastache spp., horsemint - make tea from the leaves. Smells like a mild mint.
Tagetes lucida, mexican tarragon - culinary herb
Sambucus mexicana, mexican elderberry - edible, medicinal
Proboscidea spp., Devil's claw - can eat the young pods like you would okra. The variety with yellow flowers are perennials, and the ones with pink flowers are annuals. If you let the pods mature, the seeds can be eaten, and the long black pods can be used in basketry.
Pinus edulis - pinyon pine - pine nuts. Produce pine nuts every 3 years. From what I'm reading, there is likely something in the soil - unknown what, yet- that is important for their growth. Was reading of a couple experiments and the pinyons kept dying around year three. What seemed to help is soil from another established pinyon that is put in the ground around the tree (so might be something fungal) and also, if there were any artemesia planted near them, that seemed to help as well. I have not seen any understanding as to why this seems to help, but my pinyon tree did well doing the soil and artemesia both (until javalinas ate it to the ground, grrr).
Parkinsonia florida, Blue palo verde (or little leaf palo verde if you get less water) - flowers are edible, immature beans are edible. Mature beans are edible as well but they have a harder skin and you have to treat them like fava beans and get the skin off.
There are a number of desert adapted passionflowers, including one that is native to arizona - as I understand it, the passionflower species are either good eating, or good medicine, but not both at the same time. The arizona version is so-so eating and so-so medicinal, according to a local herbalist I know.
Marsdenia edulis, talayote (I have seen many plants called talayote, so you really have to check the scientific name on this one. immature fruits can be cooked and eaten.
Lycium spp, wolfberry - this one is spiny, but the berries are lovely. If you are familiar with goji berries, they are a type of wolfberry (not the same, but taste is similar, I hear). Paleleaf wolfberry has the biggest berries, but the baja wolfberry grows a lot faster. They can get quite big so have something behind them to support, like a fence or wall or large tree, can be helpful.
Ironwood has edible beans, if your area is warm enough. They taste very similar to edamame, when cooked.
Diospyros texana, Texas persimmon - big edible purple berries. Can make a dye out of them. The taste has no tartness at all, kind of like bananas don't, you know? like...if you took a date, gave it the texture of a large blueberry, and made it a bit less sweet - that's what texas persimmons taste like to me.
And that's all that is coming to me off the top of my head. Hope it might help! .
|[+] rainwater catchment » Help how to re-use a swimming pool I don't want (Go to)||denise ra|
I live in a desert in southern arizona.
We had a pool when we bought our house, but when it had a problem that would have cost far more money that we had to fix it, we turned it into a pond.
We sealed up all the piping into the pool, made sure the plaster inner coating was set. Put dirt, rocks, and some large branches down in the bottom, had a friend help us put in bricks and stones set up on the steps and benches and made them into planters.
Then we Filled it with edible plants like cattails, baricopa, and lily pads, plus a few other small plants good for fish babies, and added some feeder goldfish that we got for just a few bucks and all the snails we could gather from other's ponds, that they didn't want. One side is about 7 feet deep, and the shallow end is 4 feet. Sealed off the little filter area that goes off from the pool, but didn't seal the cement there, so water seeps into the filter area, which works well, actually, as we filled it with dirt and made it into a small planter for a medicinal swampy plant. I was hoping to make it a swimming pond, but haven't quite managed that yet (expenses for the filters. up into a better plant filtering system.
We didn't have much money to do this, again. Originally we were hoping to try a setup more like that one couple up in Phoenix, but it turns out that their type of fish can't survive the colder temperatures in our area (we're at a higher elevation), and we had trouble finding fish that did well with our level of water alkalinity plus the temperature ranges we had. Plus, two of us developed bad food allergies to something that's common in fishfood, so we needed to have a setup where we didn't have to feed any fish that we put in there.
Goldfish worked well as we don't feed the goldfish at all; they live on the plants and the insects in the pond.
I am happy with the pond so far. I do wish that it was a bit more natural at the edges - again, we had very little money, and not too much practical know-how, so the edges are still exactly like they were for the pool, including some tiling, which is visually annoying, but still works.
The pool had bricks surrounding a cement path around the pool, which I dug up and they now have my more frost sensitive fruit trees and I'm working on adding more plants there. Goldfish make a lot of waste, so I use the water filled with fish waste on the trees an in the garden - this makes a huge difference, considering the crap soil we have here. I also let the string algae grow and then clean it out and use it for compost. And I clean it out into the pond, so the little critters inside of it get washed back into the water, which attracts the goldfish and they learn I am the source of neat bugs, so they will come up and nibble at my fingers and say hello, which is honestly kind of neat (turns out, goldfish can actually recognize voices - who knew?).
But one of my favorite things about the pond is how much it has attracted the wildlife. Where we are, there IS no water year round. No streams, no ponds, nothing. We have ended up as the water hub of our area. So we have bees, birds, rodents, lizards, snakes, rabbits, even javalinas, coyotes, a raccoon, and a bobcat or two comes by for the water. We have a family of raptors that specifically hunts in our small yard (it's about 1/2 an acre) because we have the most prey of a lot of the houses around us.
This has ended up with a lot of the smaller critters nesting/denning in our yard, and eating in our yard, which means they are defecating in our yard and that, too, is a huge boost for all the plants (we don't have any animals to help with manure). The lizards and birds eat all the insect pests from our trees and garden. The beneficial insect pollinators like the bees all get the water and end up pollinating our plants since they are in the same place. I have a little trouble keeping some of the critters out of the annuals, but the perennials in our yard do very well.
Not to mention, the pond it honestly really soothing to just watch and hang out with with the fish and watch the birds.
|[+] greening the desert » Replanting over ailanthus altissima (Go to)||Morfydd St. Clair|
Unsure about the toxins, I'm sorry to say, but wondering if manzanita or mesquite might do, in your area? I know they grow in NM, but not sure at your particular altitude, you know?
Also, possibly a wild grape vine of some kind? I know that in my area (Arizona), you'll commonly find some of our native grape vines growing next to our native walnut, and I know our walnut trees are also considered to be allelopathic, so the grapes might do well dealing with toxins, possibly? From what I recall, the native grapes around here are edible, but the seeds, not so much.
Also, perhaps a good prickly pear cactus, or other cacti that bears fruit in your area? Or some good yucca?
|[+] survival » local anesthetic resistance for folks who have been stung by scorpions (Go to)||Mike Barkley|
I think this is the correct forum for this, but let me know if not, please.
I was just reminded about this issue from another post on venomous animals and thought I'd share, for those who are not aware, because for anyone who is making survival plans that involve access to local anesthetic for pain relief during a disaster, this could impact your strategy for pain management, potentially.
To sum it up: "scorpion venom is known to affect the pumping mechanism of sodium channels in the nerve fibres, which are involved in the mechanism of action of local anaesthetic drugs, it may be responsible for the development of ‘resistance’ to the action of local anaesthetic agents." (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546248/?report=printable )
In anesthetics injected into the spinal column, numerous scorpion stings seem to be able to sometimes create a complete resistance to the injected anesthetic in the patient. Even one scorpion stings may create a delayed time to the body responding to the anesthetic, or a resistance to it (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3748676/?report=printable). Obviously, this isn't exactly something we'd be doing in a survival situation.
However, there have also been cases of it impacting injected local anesthetics in other areas, like for dental work (https://www.arcjournals.org/pdfs/aja/v2-i2/3.pdf ).
General and topical anesthetics and analgesics don't seem to be impacted by the scorpion stings, at least based on the fact that they seemed to have worked on those who had a failed spinal block due to previous scorpion stings. At least, I haven't seen any research indicating a problem.
But for anyone who has been stung by scorpions in the past, it might be worthwhile to have extra pain relief options if you had been planning on using some local anesthetics in survival situations (or for situations where you would normally expect to use local anesthetics), just in case.
I'm keeping my eye on the research periodically for personal reasons (my kid has been stung by scorpions and a lot of anesthetics don't seem to do much for them at all - the reason we found out about this in the first place), and if I ever find any new updated information, I'll make sure to put it up here.
|[+] survival » Have you had run-ins with poisonous snakes, spiders, crocodiles and etc. (Go to)||Lorinne Anderson|
I grew up in a North American desert, and moved back to different North American desert as an adult.
And mostly, in terms of staying safe, at least for the critters around here, it just kind of becomes habit, I think, for most things. Like looking out for cars when you are near a road - just, things you automatically do or don't do. And just like with the whole car/road thing, sometimes you feel like you need to pay more attention, and sometimes you feel more relaxed.
It's weird sometimes to realize how much people don't follow these precautions in other areas, though.
Like, when I was a kid, you generally didn't play in areas where wild animals denned or hung out a lot, because they could have fleas. And where I was, fleas could carry the plague, and you could catch it from them. But it was just...treated like normal 'same ole, same ole.' The state would issue warnings when there had been a few animals found that had contracted the plague, and the area where it was, and so after that happened, parents would be warning their kids more about avoiding flea-ridden places for a few months. Very few people died from the plague during my childhood, but one of them was a little boy in my hometown, so everyone took it pretty seriously.
Where I am now, there's centipedes, black widows, brown recluses, a very venomous bark scorpion, rattlesnakes, etc... And the biggest rule we follow that applies to most of them is you do not stick your hands in places you can't see unless you are wearing gloves. And you just kind of get to know the habits of the critters so you can live with each other, or get them to go live somewhere else. Like, big stones quite frequently have centipedes or scorpions under them so you stay aware when trying to move any of those, piles of rocks are good snake homes, crevices are good spider homes, and so on.
So I know that black widows and brown recluse like undisturbed places, so high traffic areas aren't likely to have them, but be careful with areas that haven't seen anyone around in a few days (I've had a black widow decide to make a web on my front door knob when I got sick and didn't leave the house for a few days, eek).
Our bark scorpions will hide or play dead if you have not touched them and their hiding space has opened up, but if they have been touched, they are little bastards and they will literally come at you. Twice, I've had one crawl on me when I was sleeping, and it stung me as I brushed it off. And then it came rushing back over from where I'd tossed it off and stung me again. Twice!
We have a few large rattlesnakes that view our yard as territory - they're about 5 feet long or so. We make the yard very friendly for road runners (nesting materials, safe places), who will eat them, so they don't come into our yard very often. And we have no dogs, and our kids are older, so they can be avoided now pretty safely. We also have some fencing that the snakes don't like to go over, mostly, so they stick to the unfenced part of our property.
But otherwise, our rattlesnakes are pretty chill. I've been walking through the yard before and seen one about 8 feet away, heading the same direction. We both looked at each other, and then the snake kept on going away from me, and I did the same thing.
I honestly think the worst moment I've ever had with a critter was a centipede. I was in bed, covers off because it's hot as heck in the summer, it's pitch black, and I feel something crawl on my leg. And it's not like a little tickle - this thing has weight to it. So I'm holding very still, waiting for it to crawl OFF and the crawling just keeps going and going and man, I think I broke the sound barrier leaping off that bed when it finally crawled off!
Ended up catching the thing and putting it outside to go catch mice or something.
I know that we were very worried about scorpions and such when we first moved to our current house, but yeah...we're just used to it now.
|[+] greening the desert » Cacti troubles (Go to)||shauna carr|
Okay, so, I'll see if this can help.
How is it planted? It may not have enough room, potentially.
For prickly pear, in the dirt, they have a wide but shallow root spread, so they need a lot of room. The prickly pear around me tend to have roots spreading at least 8-15 feet from the base stem. So for watering, they do better if they have a lot of room in ground that is getting water over a large area. You'll see some prickly pear planted in the middle of an area where there is plastic covered ground around them, or with cement or other barriers around them fairly close, and that tends to be a problem for them. so if the pot is too small for the size of prickly pear, that could be one issue. Also, in a pot, I don't know how well prickly pear bloom and fruit, compared to in the dirt? There might be some differences there, but I am ignorant about that.
Sun - if it's getting mostly fully sun, that's likely good. My cactus in my yard gets full day sun, in a desert, and as long as it gets enough water, it's okay. Cactus roots are typically shallow, and in my desert, the dirt is VERY heated down about 2 feet, deeper than the roots typically go, so cactus roots are able to withstand some pretty hot temps. But there could be a chance that the pot is getting too hot, depending one what it's made of - might be worth exploring that, just in case.
water - I am just not sure - I have all of mine in the ground, which has a very different set of watering needs, you know? They need to dry out between waterings, and are comfortable staying dry for a while, though, so watering it every time it feels dry may be too much - would need some research for that, though.
but, in case you end up putting it in the dirt at all - for cactus, this is the watering pattern that is recommended by one of my desert plant groups that has worked well for me so far.
For new plants that have just been put into the ground:
(times vary depending on the time of year - more frequently during hotter months)
weeks 1-2 - water very 1-4 days (
weeks 3-4 - water the cactus every 3-7 days
weeks 5-6 - water ever 4- 10 days
weeks 7 to 1 year, give or take - gradually increase time between watering until you've reached the mature watering schedule
The mature watering schedule for established, desert adapted cactus like prickly pear is watering every 14-30 days during hot months with no rain, and watering every 21-45 days during spring and fall, and not at all during the winter. So basically, about twice a month in the summers, and once a month the rest of the time.
That said...I don't water my prickly pear once it's established. Heck, I don't really water any cactus I plant past about 6 months, honestly, unless there is an unusually long heat spell (like over 115 F for 7 days straight). I live in an area that receives 11-13 inches of rain a year, with very hot summers and mild winters. And like 3/4 of the rain comes during a three month period, so there is almost no rain at all the rest of the year. Now, I get less fruit that way, but it does perfectly fine and does provide a fair amount of fruit still with no extra water.
Good luck, and I hope your cactus does okay! You can grow a new one from dead looking, dried cactus pads if you just leave one on its side in dirt it can grow in, so you may be able to use your dead looking pads, still.
|[+] food as medicine » Looking for ideas for less Sugar (Go to)||Carla Burke|
Just a quick note here re: agave syrup.
Agave syrup used to be a slightly better option, because the processing still kept some of the original fiber content and so it wasn't just straight up sugar syrup and nothing else.
However, a few years back, the processing methods changed in every company I can find, and now it's like corn syrup - both syrups are from plants, but both processed so much that it's not so great any longer.
We actually had an old bottle that got misplaced before the processing changed, and you could see where it still had fiber listed as being present, and how none of the modern agave syrup labels show any fiber remaining in the product.
|[+] wild harvesting » Purslane--any poisonous look-alikes? (Go to)||shauna carr|
Unsure if you'd be finding any in your area, but there's an inedible look alike common in the Southwest called Horse purslane, or desert horse purslane (Trianthema portulacastrum), that's also inedible.
Has pink flowers, not purple, but otherwise the only real difference between edible purslane and this is in the leaf shape. The edible purslane has leaves that are, generally, a little like a club - like the stereotype cartoon caveman club, LOL. Horse purslane has leaves that are rounder, generally. It can be hard to tell the two apart without having both present, though.
|[+] plants » Cherokee heirloom crops from the Trail Of Tears era (1830s) (Go to)||Blake Lenoir|
I'd actually second Native Seed Search as a possible resource, not for the seeds themselves, but for contacts and ideas.
The group has worked hard to help keep alive or even revive and share seeds from multiple tribes, both in the SW USA and also Northern Mexico, and if you can get in touch with some of the folks there, they might have some more ideas of some groups or even some individuals who might have some of the knowledge you are looking for, you know?
Their contact info can be found here: https://www.nativeseeds.org/pages/contact-native-seeds
|[+] greening the desert » Hackberry trees for a dry climate (Go to)||Skyler Weber|
I live in an area (around 12 " of rain) in a desert where I have a different two types of hackberry than you do. So I have Celtis Pallida and Celtis Reticulata rather than Celtis Occidentalis.
So not your variety, but based on my own varieties, there are some likely similarities that might be a problem. My own personal thoughts would be that a hackberry for your area might not be the best idea IF one of the reasons you are choosing it is for berry production.
The berries for our desert ones are rather bland (not bad tasting, just bland), but usually varieties like yours, that are used to a slightly wetter climate are tastier, so I imagine taste would be fine.
However, I think the issue for you is going to be the rainfall. I double checked, and your variety of hackberry can survive from about 14" to 60 " of rainfall, and you said you get around 16", yes?
The thing is, surviving is not the same as setting fruit. Living in a desert, I have gotten to see how my hackberries act along their survival range for rainfall, with some higher and lower rainfall years.
And in the lower rainfall years, the hackberry does just fine, but as it doesn't have as many resources to survive with, it sacrifices making flowers and berries for simply surviving, you know?
On high rainfall years, there are tons of berries, and even in drought, there will be a few, but the closer to their lower limit of rainfall you go, the fewer berries you are going to get. So for your level of rainfall, I don't think you'd get much from this variety of berry.
That's going to be an issue for most of the plants you may be able to get food from, if they CAN survive low rainfall, but usually live in areas with more rainfall: the low end of a plant's expected resources usually means lower fruit production.
Another thing you are going to run into with any plants - and this one is honestly crummy - is growth rate. A lot of perennials that grow in low water environments have slow growth during drought as one of their survival traits. So they may grow more quickly when irrigated or when there's increased rainfall, but they can grow incredibly slowly when rainfall is scarce. How quickly they grow can end up being a really important detail to figure out about any of the plants you want to grow in the low water environment.
I'm not sure what would be a good overstory for your area - I'm at a much lower elevation with higher heat, so the trees I have wouldn't do well at higher elevation, sorry to say. The main thing I'd look for is a plant where 16 inches of rain is closer to the mid-range of its expected rainfall, if you want it for any food purposes.
|[+] southwest usa » Your wisdom wanted, dry climate permaculture (Go to)||Tony Hawkins|
All right, this is mostly personal experience from a non-expert. I grew up in high desert in New Mexico, and then eventually moved to southern AZ for a lower, very different type of desert. Even living in two different environments, I'd have some thoughts on this.
First - if you are planning to move to the southwest, you do not want to rely on current data on rainfall, etc... for the region. We are going through what many experts believe is a mega drought and things are changing. Rainfall is going down, water table is going down (some wells are drying up), temp is going up, so I highly recommend taking a look at some of the climate projections for the southwest, to really get a good feel for what the area you choose is going to be like in 5-10 years, you know?
Second, if you are thinking of dry climate permaculture for an area, it's also really good to look at rainfall per month (not yearly average), average monthly temps (plus highs and lows), and average humidity. The second desert I was in is MUCH harder to grow plants in, but it actually had higher rainfall averages than the desert I grew up in. But it had much lower humidity, and much higher temperatures, and so overall, the plants struggled a lot more with water needs.
This is actually a problem I see with a lot of dry climate or desert permaculture. I have had so many great desert permaculture ideas that did not work well at ALL where I live, for various reasons particular to my climate. Like, for example, mulch.
Mulch is so-so where I'm at, for example. Rainfall is so low that if you have a 'lot' of mulch, it ends up absorbing the rainfall, without letting it get to the ground, and then it literally evaporates back into the open air (low humidity) without reaching the ground at all. The plant gets LESS water because of the mulch. It's fine if I'm irrigating the plants and can get water UNDER the mulch, but for any plants that I'm not irrigating, anything above a very light mulch has been problematic.
Third, I would go check out water usage rights in the southwest. They are different than in other areas of the country, and can involve things like some limitation with what you can do with any free running water or dry arroyos on your property, so that is good to know before you make any decisions, you know?
Fourth, a lot of areas have some water restrictions now on things like creating wells, depending on where you are at, so also something to pay attention to.
Fifth, for some great plant ideas for your area, I highly recommend tracking down some good edible plant or medicinal plant books for your area. Many of these can be great ideas for something to grow that is native, adapted to the environment, and also very useful and good to grow (and it also may bring in local wildlife that you WANT (like birds, that may eat insects that are trying to eat any food plants you grow). I like the little pamphlets from Charles Kane, like his 'Wild edible plants of New Mexico,' He has one for Texas and Arizona too, i believe. I have used his to find some great native edible plants that already existed on my property and some I could easily get and plant there, and I haven't had to water them after they were established either.
Just referencing the above - creosote. I'm the opposite in how I view it, LOL. That stuff is absolutely amazing, what it can do. i use it for all sorts of stuff, herbally. (heck, one example study on it and skin cancer - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138708/ ). Smells great - I make sun tea out of it and use it to wipe down the floors or the counters (and rinse off afterweard) for a great, clean smell.
sixth, and this is just once you GET some property. . You will often hear advice that if you are watering, to do so early morning or late in the evening to conserve water. This is good advice to conserve water. This is also BAD advice if you wanna make a food forest. If there is one thing that critters in dry environments will try to get to, above all else, it is WATER. And as it's often hot, they more often come out in early morning or late evening. Which means that if you water during that time, it basically is like a bell luring all the critters to your plants that you just watered - not uncommon for them to start digging to try and get to the 'source' of the water.
One thing we did was set up small areas with water for the critters, that was close to the plants, but with the plants visually hidden (I set up some fencing and either let a lot of high, native weeds grow around them, or put up dried, dead native plants around the fencing, so it looks 'normal'), and quite frequently, the critters will just go for the water and the plants are much less hassled.
|[+] projects » Desert Tree Establishment (Go to)||Mikhail Mulbasicov|
If it helps, thought I'd share some of my own experiences with mulching. :-)
I'm also in the Sonoran desert, outside of Tucson, maybe 2,000 feet higher than you, maybe 1 or 2 inches more of rain annually.
What I've found so far with mulch is this.
Organic mulch will break down significantly slower than you might expect, and not be as useful for adding nutrients, unless you irrigate a fair amount - the humidity level is high, temp is high, and the rain level is low, which means it just doesn't break down nicely, unfortunately. If I remember right, when I was doing research, much of the 'greening the desert' sites that have been used so far, where thick mulch is used, have higher humidity levels and/or lower temperatures, even if they have similar or less rain (or many had extra water they had available for the initial start). So as you mentioned wanting to conserve water, thought this might be helpful. Especially as this is my experience a little higher than you, so my temps are a few degrees cooler on average, daily.
Another mulch issue: thickness. Again, my experience here has been thick mulch is good IF you are planning to irrigate a lot. If you are not...it can actually make things worse for the plant. :-/ The rainfall is scarce enough that I have found that a thick mulch can actually absorb the low to moderate rainfall, and then it evaporates back into the air due to the low humidity, and the water never even reaches the ground for the plant to use. You can get some small annuals growing in the mulch that can take advantage of that, sometimes, but any perennials may suffer. A slow build up of mulch from the plants themselves seem to break down a bit better, over time, but yeah...thick mulch can be a potential issue at first.
Stone mulch works much better to keep the moisture in the ground without absorbing any, but obviously doesn't add nutrients, and a build up of debris based mulch on top of it will start to cause problems like any other thick mulch will. Also, for new plants, rock mulch makes it harder on them as it tends to raise the ambient temperature and fries the plants (I have killed SO many plants, ouch).
But...that leads me to some of the positive mulch concepts that have worked for me.
For new plants, a thinner layer of organic mulch has done pretty well - didn't absorb too much water, and was thin enough that it broke down a bit faster.
And while rock mulch was too much for the plants, strategically places stones did well. A stone or two near any plants, underneath where the stones are somewhat shaded and so not going to absorb as much heat from the sun and fry the plants, have been very helpful. The ground stays wet underneath them, they don't fry the plant, and when it's a few stones, but not a sold mulch of rocks, then some debris builds up between the stones naturally and you get a little organic nutrient adding mulch and a little water preserving stone mulch, and it does pretty well. When my perennials grow larger, I may add more stones to the shaded areas, and keep things going like that.
I got the stone idea from an acquaintance who was working on a project in NM, trying to recreate some gardens they'd seen in ancient Anasazi ruins. They speculated that if gardens were planted, and then after sprouting had stones placed in between all the sprouts to keep water loss to a minimum, it would cut down on hugely on water needs. It worked great there, but it was done in a canyon, where there was a lot of shade, and here in the sonoran desert, it doesn't work as well without more protection from the sun.
But if you've got shade cloth, or shade under some of the trees? Some well places stones really can be a great help. :-)
Oh! and I'd highly recommend lupines, if you can find some seeds. Nitrogen fixing, attract pollinators, don't need watering, and add a bit of debris once they die, as well. Not to mention they are honestly lovely to look at. :-)
Have you checked out Desert Survivors nursery in Tucson yet? If not, that is a fantastic place to get some less commonly sold native plants, and their website lists what uses they have - pollinator attractors, edible parts, etc.... They also mention where the plants are found, so you can match up altitude and water needs.
I look forward to seeing how thing are going for you!
|[+] greening the desert » Thoughts on nitrogen fixing trees for the desert (Go to)||Kathleen Sanderson|
Can't speak for others, but one issue I've had is competition for resources.
I have found mesquite to be a fantastic tree in the areas on my property where I want native plants - they have provided enough shade to help protect against the worst summer sun, but not too much. The leaf litter has been great mulch in my experience, as well. I have a lot of native plants grow up under our mesquites. Pods are great eating. Mesquite sap and leaves are mild medicinals - overall, I love 'em.
however, the mesquites nearest some of my non-native plants that require frequent irrigation seem to send out roots that way and I find I end up having to water more and more frequently to keep the plants from drying out. So having mesquites near my fruit trees has been problematic. Also, some folks may be thinking of non-native mesquite, the ones from south america. THOSE suckers are nightmares. Very heavy shade that makes it hard for anything to grow under them. Pods are bland and blech.
|[+] fruit trees » Any cheap permanent ways to keep citrus warm in mild winters without covering? (Go to)||Mike Haasl|
I live in a hot climate that is usually good for citrus, but in winter, it does sometimes get below freezing. Lowest it has ever gotten here is 17 F (about -8 celsius), but it usually only gets down to the low 20's F. And even that is not for long - 3 days in a row below freezing is the record for the last 10 years, and on an average year it's just a few hours below freezing, maybe 2-3 dozen times throughout the winter.
People here protect their citrus without trouble, usually by covering it at night on these days, or putting the old fashioned, huge Christmas lights throughout the branches to keep them warm.
My limitations: I have chronic pain that makes it difficult to frequently put on and take off the coverings and it's likely to get worse over the years, so while I DO put on coverings now, even the couple of years I've had these citrus have been very hard, you know? I don't have outlets anywhere NEAR where there are citrus trees in my yard. I don't have a job currently due to the whole chronic illness issue, so buying a lot of supplies, like Christmas lights or special coverings, amendments, etc... in order to make something to help my trees is unlikely to be possible for a long while. And also, my hot climate is so hot that if I put rocks and such around the trees when they are smaller (a couple are), reflected heat may fry the poor things in the summer time.
What I've got: 1/3 of an acre of land. A large pond that the citrus are growing around. A ton of rocks all over that are fist sized to 2-3 times that size which I can build something with, a lot of dirt and a fair amount of sand, an old wood chipper and lots of chop and drop trees around that I can use for wood chips, a lot of native and drought tolerant trees that I can get seeds from to grow new trees, and some powdered cement and a couple small rolls of chicken wire.
So, anyone know any way I can use what I've got to help my citrus trees stay warm in the winter time here? Something different for the young vs. the older trees, maybe? I have some ideas, but honestly, I'm very new to citrus, so would love advice!
Even if it's just to start brushing up on my baking to bribe local teens so I can get them to come cover my citrus trees during the winter time. ^_^
|[+] soil » Improving hardpan/caliche - best way to do this? (Go to)||Dan Fish|
Thank you so much for your response, Trace. I love your idea, but unfortunately I don't think I have the water to make it work.
Rainfall here is 5-12 inches a year, and humidity is exceedingly low. Large amounts of wood chips are something a lot of folks use here for gardening, but only if one can irrigate a LOT in that area so it breaks down, you know? Otherwise, you end up with a bunch of wood chips that sit there, dry and not breaking down at all, for years (there used to be a good video on the channel 'the vegan athlete,' on youtube, who lived in a similar environment and you could see the beautiful breakdown of wood chips where it was watered frequently, and the absolute lack of breakdown of wood chips where he didn't). I know of a log that was partially chopped up by the side of a hiking trail, and ten years later, it was still there, as well as most of the wood chips, mostly unchanged.
Also, even 6 inches of wood chips and the water during many of our rain events won't penetrate enough to get to the ground, unfortunately.
On the good side, I do have a lot of trees already - native - so I've got a lot more shade in my yard and cooler soil than most of the surrounding area. They drop leaves annually, they've allowed a lot of bushes and herbaceous growth around the trees as well that are covering the soil in many areas. But the soil underneath is still very poor, past that top inch of better soil that has taken years to build up. And many of these plants are not ones I necessarily want to grow, but precursors to what I hope to grow, but require better soil for.
Any other ideas, for low water, high evaporation areas?