To my knowledge you can dry farm wheat in the winter in the Central Valley because we get our rain during the winter. I dry farmed fava beans during the winter for the same reason, but that was only because we had El Nino to help. During a drought year, not too sure. All best are off after May.
One more thing. See where the fenceline is? There used to be big puddle holes along the roadway, but I filled them in, and regraded the gravel area, and dug a trench along the fenceline, and now when it rains the fence line gets crazy amounts of water run off from the road. Between the basin and the road, I had a little trench filled swimming pool for a few heavy rain days. I planted sage bushes in the trench line along the fence and covered with wood chips. They got a little waterlogged and didn't like it, but during the summer I will have trapped all that moisture in.
Oh, wow, I haven't been on in a while. Actually the infiltration basin is the best thing that's going for me know. The tiny california rose in the middle of the basin is spreading like crazy. Half the house's 1,000 sq ft water base goes into it, and since we actually got rain this year, the bushes are doing great. The California poppies spread quite nicely as well.
Soilborn Farms is bringing Toby Hemingway to Sacramento. I signed up, but they need 25 minimum and they are at 14. If you are interested in getting a certificate in permaculture, you might want to sign up, especially since it is local, a weekend a month for about eight or so months, I think, and only $1,000. I really want to go. Please sign up! There are only a few days for the deadline, but they may extend it for another month if not enough sigh ups.
A neighbor threw out the idea that it might be cost effective to raise our own beef between our two pastures. Following the basic axiom of celia revel that nothing is ever JUST.... as in we will JUST put a cow out there and let him have at it. My plea is for help by any knowledgeable about cattle to recommend a book that would get us in the right direction and keep the cow as comfortable and happy as possible. Books on doing this naturally and with heritage stock would be more than welcome. I am keenly interested in planting Native grasses and wonder which ones would be good in California. Im also interested in nutritional quality, and I know that some breeds have been tinkered with over the years and have lost various qualities in the process. Oh, and also, would the cow get lonely if it were the only one? Dumb questions, but maybe I need some information about that. I know goats will die of loneliness if left day on end by themselves. Thank You in advance.
This is my first year with a chicken tractor and we are in the summer dormant season, so the little guys are just sitting there in one spot in the shade waiting until they can get out on the range. I have pondered this situation for a while trying to figure out how to modify the Salatin system to the Central Valley, California climate. In our climate, we get rain in the winter, and that is when the grass grows. In the summer it dies, and we would be akin to being in the winter so to speak. All the wild annuals die without irrigation (not doing irrigation) during the six months from May to October without rain, and the strategy is to just stay cool during the 90-100 degree sometimes plus.
So, I have the little guys under a big shade tree and squirt them off a bit when it gets over 95 degrees. Its a shame to waste all that poop, and I really dont want to shovel it into the compost heap. Can I put a tarp underneath with hay on top? Has anyone tried that? I would leave a little spot open for dust baths. They enjoy that too much to deny them this treat. Im just going to do that and see what happens unless I hear otherwise. Are there any concerns I should be aware of?
Brad Lancaster talks about dimensions in his Rainwater Harvesting book one or two. I would highly recommend both as reference guides for numbers. I think he says the width should be the canopy of the tree and the depth should be about nine inches, four of that being filled with mulch.
Academia does not use wikkipedia as a reliable source of information because of its open source nature and because it can be abused. It is generally considered by complimentary medicine as highly biased against alternative sources. It generally maximizes the risks of alternative methods and minimizes its benefits. It does the reverse for orthodox medicine. I have used many of the principals of the Gerson method in my general health and healing routine, and many of my own disease conditions have disappeared. In addition, I know of many more people, personally, who have done the same things and have benefited tremendously. If I had have listened to Quackwatch and wikkipedia, I would still be suffering.
I havent visited a doctor in over two years. Im 50 years old without any conditions, medications or aches or pains. mMy last visit with my own personal physician ended in a conversation about drug companies. My doctor said, Theyre the maffia.
Heres another thing to consider. The FDA can raid and take a practitioners medical records, and then claim they have no records to back up their claims. I heard this on the internet somewhere, and like everything else, should be taken with a grain of salt.
(sorry about no apostrophes or quotes, my keyboard is missing those keys)
This is a generalization, and if you read the whole article, you'll see that some natives, such as from the riparian communities can tolerate vegetables and fruits better, and those should go into the transition zone between your garden and the drought tolerant plants. California rose is one. I noticed his plan puts the fruit trees in their own section. There are over 70 different varieties of ceanothus all with slightly different tolerances and water requirements coming from different regions of the state. The Las Pilitas site is amazing, full of descriptions of so many kinds of natives. California has one of the most diverse plant communities in the world with some of the most divers soil types, so when you pick a native to place in your garden, make sure you know all about it because many can be quite picky about their locations. The guy who created this site has been a professional landscaper and grower for quite some time. I don't like to gamble on a plant I paid good money for. I want to do everything I know how to make it succeed.
Because of the nature of seasonal California drought every year from May until October, plants have adapted to no water for very long periods of time, although many near rivers don't need to do this. They build mycelium connections to each other, from a unique type of fungi called Frankia, to build a support network to get them through the rough drought season, to stay healthy, and to stay disease free. Water during the summer can damage the mycelium. Exotic plants dead bodies don't work into this system either, their leaves etc. They create a different microbe environment that is not conducive to what the natives need. The great permie thing about this is that there is absolutely no need for drip irritation, fertilizer or amendments. They do need water from time to time in the summer to get established, but from then on rely on mother nature to get them through the season.
I made an infiltration basin and posted about it in the "greening the desert" section. I killed the lawn, put a layer of cardboard and wood chips down, and then placed the natives. Crossing my fingers on how that should fill in. From the presentations by the CNPS, this is how you do it, although some do use drip the first year. I've seen some beautiful landscapes with this method.
Here is an interesting link to a site that shows you how to garden around California Natives. I don't know what it is like in other regions, but it says here the Natives don't like exotic species and don't do well with them. This totally rearranges how I'm going to do my food forest. You have to set many of your drought resistant trees (especially oaks) and plants away from your yummy fruits and vegetables. The two don't mix well. Las Pilitas
There are some pros about bermuda that's for sure. Here in California, non native grasses are destroying native habitats. I can't grow wildflowers unless I remove all the foxtail because it will kill the tiny flowers through competition. We have a lot of bermuda as well, and I can't have it anywhere near a vegetable garden, or it will take over in short time. I used to have a live and let live philosophy towards non natives until I realized what they do to natives, and isn't natives a part of the permaculture plan? Grow what has adapted to the environment as your base?
I'm designing the west side of my site, and I would like to plant a valley oak in what used to be a gravel driveway. It is compacted fairly well, about eight inches down. I have successfully planted hackberry trees here, but the oaks I planted next to them died. Was it the competition from the hackberries or do oaks just not do well in compacted gravel?
Update on the basin: It was filled with a layer of junkmail/cardboard and cypress wood chips. The wood pulp from the paper will give a cooler decomposing process, friendly to fungi and tree/bush roots. After doing much reading on California natives, I decided to ditch the idea of letting the paper mulberry exotic move in because California natives like mycorrhizal communities of their own making and many do not like the dead bodies or roots of other species as these create a detrimental microbial community. As you can see in the photo, there are a few California natives spaced out along the edges. I have a couple of buckwheats, a ceanothus, a stickey monkey flower, and soon a couple of toyon. The California rose is doing well sending out runners, and I think it could fill the entire middle eventually. The big bush on the left is coming out. It is an Escalonia, but I think Toyon would do better there. I'll probably plant rye over the winter to strengthen the berm, and add some more sages along the edges. In the spring, I'll add California poppy and lupin on the berm.
All the plants mentioned are extremely drought tolerant once established. The more I read about California natives, the more inclined I am to using them exclusively and in isolation as they are already adapted to this climate's hot, long summers. They are still here after an 80 year drought in the 1500s. The only thing is that they don't like other plants. They don't like permaculture plants that I am aware of: passion vine, siberian pea shrub. I don't think I could do a food forest knowing what I know about these natives. The reason they are so drought tolerant is because of the special mycorrhizal relationships they establish in plant communities. The other thing is the microbes. For example, oaks stay healthy with a layer of only oak leaf litter that creates a special fungus that breaks down the oak leaves slowly. When weeds establish they encourage microbes that break down the leaf litter all at once removing a protective barrier.
I have my fruit trees off the the side of the house, away from the natives. They are more water intensive, but that's OK, as long as I have one section that needs less water, that is good.
Up front, where the rocks are is where the downspout from the front porch roof will go, so this area will be getting about double the annual rainfall it would normally receive.
Daniel, the website is incredible. I've been reading a book on biodynamics, and was wondering how to do the manure/horn procedure. It's neat seeing a whole community doing so much on a large scale. There's got to be a site that sells this pre-made though, right?
Jd, thanks for the tip on the post holes. I want to get as much water as deep as possible and hadn't considered doing a sort of French drain inside the basin. I've been digging more, and have found some roots with whitish covering, not all, but one root. Can I innoculate the whole basin with this stuff somehow? I worked on the basin again this morning and did a water leveling test to see where the water is running to, and I have some adjustments to make. As you can see from the picture, the arbitrary circle I made around the tree is just that, arbitrary. The tree roots are telling me where I can dig and where I can't as it is becoming more impossible to dig through the gnarled bulk as I get closer in some areas. It's like Gandalf saying, "You shall not pass."
Here's a picture of my two year old hugelkulture after two years of drought in California. Any questions? The only green part is the bermuda in the background growing over the septic tank which I'm trying to kill with a board of plywood, as you can see. There is a little green at the depression of the horseshoe shaped bed, but that is in direct opposition to the idea. It basically now serves as an infiltration basin for the middle.
In case you haven't heard (tongue in cheek), California is in the middle of drought. So, with that in mind, I'm trying to make my front lawn into an infiltration basin. I already killed most of the bermuda grass with black plastic on the lawn for several months, mystifying the neighbors. I inherited two lovely birch trees that suck up mounds of water and are totally inappropriate for the Central Valley's blistering summers, but I don't want to remove them because of the sudden impact upon my summer cooling bill. I'm going to leave them, and let them do with what water the infiltration basin can absorb. In the meantime, there are three paper mulberry trees trying to establish themselves in the lawn from runners from the neighbor. I'm letting them be because they have an established track record of laughing in the face at heat and drought. If they out compete the birches, so let it be. I'm sick and tired of pouring well water (not very renewable source) on these trees that simply look sick and palid during the summer. A California rose sits in between the trees and is sending out runners and does well with some supplemental irrigation. With the basin, I'm hoping I won't need to irrigate. I would plant oaks but there are power lines close by and the paper mulberries that are already mature in the neighbors yard don't go up high enough to become a problem. A mature oak would be a big problem.
Goal: not have to water the front but let the porch run off fill the basin in the winter for summer drought protection.
Well, my question is, does it look like it's going all right? I'm digging about six inches into the soil, and the berms around the edges will probably be at least a foot tall when it's finished. Brad Lancaster calls for a nine inch basin, so if you count the berms, the basin will be almost a foot an a half deep? The red circles around the trees mark the point where the basin ends to protect the tree from root rot. Oh, also, I want to spread some mycorrhizal spores under the last layer of mulch which will be wood chips. Does it matter what kind I get? I'd like to go native, is there a particular native species that does well here? I figure today was the first day of the Big Dig, and it should take about a little over a week to finish at this rate.
I would agree with the above comments on hugelkulture. I live in the Central Valley where rainfall is about fourteen inches on average, and lately we are lucky to get even seven which is turning us into a desert. That said, I wanted to love hugelkulture, I made one, and wanted it to work so bad, but it became a water hog nightmare during the drought. It is convex which makes it dry out faster, and it is reliant on an abundant amount of rainfall during the winter which we didn't get in '14.
There is a book by Brad Lancaster that is worth its weight in gold: Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond. It goes into great detail about how to get water to trees in the desert using concave infiltration basins with a layer of mulch. There are volumes one and two with a third volume in the works. I would read it like the Bible. He explains a lot about passive cooling and heating, concave gardens and rain gardens, water harvesting, and shade cloth. I noticed my convex garden under my patio needs less water than anywhere else.
Anyone know how to apply pond sludge to a garden without risking burning the plants? Do you age it? Put it on as is? Mix it in? We have a small pond for one goose who is generous with her waste, and it needs cleaning. The surface water is fine because we use the water for our fruit trees and refill the pond on a regular basis, but the sludge at the bottom smells really bad, like a water treatment facility, but I know it's good s--.
I finally found someone who could i.d. this bush and thought I would share the information here. Lycianthes rantonnetti, or blue potato bush, is native to South America. It is a tropical plant, but it is very, very tolerant of drought. It is hardy from zone 8-10, and it dies back in the winter but comes back in the spring. It is poisonous, and my goats won't eat it. It has small purple flowers in the spring. Not sure if bees like them. Basically, it is an ornamental with no other uses than to screen during the summer heat. It is easily propogated with stem cuttings, but there are no seeds. The berries are poisonous. This is great if you want an easy to take care of bush to screen out west sun.
I haven't built what you are doing exactly, but I do have some experience by failure with greywater recently. What I discovered in the end was that I needed a thorough foundation before attempting it because I kept having to change everything, costing time and money. I would highly recommend Art Ludwig's "Create an Oasis with Greywater." If I would have read that book first, I would have known what I was doing. I do know that you are not supposed to store greywater, as it gets icky, and you don't have to filter it if you are putting it on your trees. Garden is not OK as well as grass is not OK. His philosophy is that the easiest and simplest systems work best, and I would have to agree. Good luck with your project. I hope everything turns out splendid.
I ended up with a three way on the inside plumbing of my kitchen sink ( important since you may want to divert water away from your plants for various reasons), and the grey water going out of the wall through tubing that led to five mulch basins next to trees/bushes on the side of the house. Basically, I water the plants on my west side wall while I'm doing the dishes. I'll have to check on the distribution to the trees occasionally as the mulch beds and everything settles in. We are working with gravity here, and it took a lot of digging and tinkering to get it just right. I'm still crossing my fingers that it will stand the test of time. I'm also curious to see what kind of saturation I'm getting, and if I still need to water etc.
OK, so thus far, I have done everything wrong that could possibly be done wrong. We decided to not do the barrel after actually getting the Art Ludwig book and reading it, and have decided to go with a Branching system from the outside drain. So, I dug some mulch pits, and put some leaves in to get ready to install the branching pipe. OOOps. The mulch were leaves from a Hackberry tree: allelopathic. Again, discovery after doing some reading. So, I'd be watering poison into the little trees every time I did dishes. So, I thought, OK, what do I have around that I could use for mulch, well there's hay from the barn. I did actually fill one hole with hay from the barn, and then upon checking it, I was disappointed to find out that it is extremely hot! Manure plus straw plus water equals compost heat.
So, do I let it heat up given that it is only inches away from a tree? Do I fill with sawdust that we have on hand and worry that it might rob the soil of nitrogen? Not sure what to do anymore.
This past two weeks, I've been rounding up my resources, observing, planning, and preparing for starting a food forest on the southwest corner of the house. It gets hot and dry and temperatures soar past what the weather man says it should be for this part of the state, Central California. It is my desert microclimate even though I'm in a mediteranian climate overall. I have two pomegranates from seed (one year old) that I plopped in the ground, and watered, and have survived. I planted a row of hackberry next to the house for shade. This was easy because I have easy access to the sprouts from the momma tree on the northeast end. But I'm a little nervous about using any of the rest that will be used next to the palms, olive, and artichoke I plan to install. The area is on a gravel driveway, so I will be digging in for tree access and rely on the run off from the gravel to wash into the tree basins. The palms will be late in coming as I'm growing them from seed, so I wanted to shade the ground until then with hackberry because they grow so darned fast. I planted seedlings last year and they are about four feet tall now. Once the palms are in, I could cut down the hackberries. What about the olive, artichoke and pomegranate?
It's really hard to find a lot of information on hackberry. In Gaia's garden it lists them as nurse trees, but I know they have a deadly affect on plants. Very little grows well around the momma hackberry tree except strawberries. I have strawberries and hackberries planted together in a pot and they are both doing quite nicely.
I'm putting together a theory, that hackberries do well around berries in general because they are both indigenous to each other.
Anyone have any information or links to hackberries in food forests or guilds?
There are two bushes that are on the west side of a gravel driveway in zone 9 where they are exposed to massive amounts of heat and sun. They receive an ample amount of neglect but go like gangbusters every spring and summer. You can see some dead tips of growth from last year, and they are continuing to climb with new green growth in the middle of the third year of California drought. They die back like they look like they're never coming back during the frosts of winter. They have small purple flowers. What are they?
Mystery solved. After much searching, I have found that even though this has the distinctive marks of a sassafras tree, it is indeed not a sassafras. Apparently there is an imposter out there called the paper mulberry. It is native to Asia, a pioneer species, and considered invasive in some areas. I knew this had all the markings of permaculture.
What if I had a bucket with sawdust that filters the water then put holes in the bottom, with screen of course, so that goes into a second bucket that has tubes that distribute the water to specific plants?
Under the sink, you can see where it goes out to the other side of the house. There is the three way lever, so we can divert it to the septic. On the outside, you can see where it comes out and Ts off to either side of the house. We were thinking of putting some sort of filter between the pvc pipe that distributes it to the ground and the pipe that comes out of the wall.
We have a very simple design with a three-way connecting our water outside the wall of our kitchen sink or to the septic tank. I know that the perforated pvc pipe thing is wrong, and we did try it, and it did clog up, but while it was working, it did exactly what we wanted. What we want is the sink dishes to water the ornamentals on the other side of the wall. The only way we could get this was to extend a pipe the full length of the wall and let the pressure build to either side. We had an idea of installing a removable screen/mesh filter inside the outside pipe to be cleaned periodically. Then enlarge the holes in the pipe. Is this feasible? Is there a better way?