Blaine Clark wrote: Water tables all over the earth are dropping drastically.
I think you mean the water table in various spots on earth where the population and/or industrial activities have increased their water use beyond the rate of replenishment. In some places, such as Phoenix, Arizona, and Miami, Florida, the overuse has even resulted in land subsidence and sinkholes. But in general the water table is fairly stable, with changes up and down determined mainly by precipitation and changes to infiltration (which is where human activity, such as paving large areas or deforestation, comes in). See https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/groundwater-storage-and-water-cycle for more scientific information.
The climate catastrophism ("world of crisis") that seems to be on the rise interferes with clear thinking, mental health, and our ability to effectively help the less fortunate members of our species to better health and ability to flourish. Our favoured way (permaculture) of food production may be too labour intensive to scale up enough to feed the world, but we can still develop useful skills in small scale application and share what we learn.
Keep growing, permies!
I've often thought of what I'd do if I got a bunch of dry, open land. Here in CO that would be prairie with ~15" rain per year. You've got drier but at least your land looks like it has running water at times as well as trees. It sounds like you have the added advantage that you've had some time to observe your land across a number of seasons.
Definitely a 1+ for Brad Lancaster's book. I'd start with fencing it but everyone else has mentioned that. The last thing you want is someone's outlaw cow deciding that the culmination of all your hard work tastes like candy. Some grazing would be good if you could control the intensity and duration, thus fences.
I think you're on the right path with check dams. You don't hold the water, at least on the surface, but make it soak in. In CO we've got the majority of the world's water lawyers/nazis so making a pond is out. Ponds don't make sense in a dry climate anyway. Your water is exposed to evaporation. However, your check dam will collect organic matter and sediment, both of which will hold water below soil level. Use the sagebrush or whatever brush you have upstream of rocks so they help catch sediment. I suppose you might need to weigh brush down with rocks so it doesn't blow away. Make sure that water running over the top of your check dam doesn't drop straight down onto dirt. It needs something hard that's at ground level, otherwise the water will undermine your dam. Diversion swales away from your arroyos could be useful. On a smaller scale (easier to make) would be planting in pits.
You're going to want wind breaks. They'll keep the wind from drying everything out so quickly. Long term you'll want a living windbreak but I've wondered if putting up snow fencing would be a good short term solution. Hopefully catch a bit more snow in the process, too. After some observation to see where snow drifts you could dig pits, fill them with any good soil you have, lots of mulch, and plant some kind of really hardy tree or shrub. Maybe just throw lots of seeds in and see what is hardy enough to germinate. Pits are what you want to plant in in dry places. Save your topsoil if you have any to put down in the bottom. Use lots of mulch. Sometimes you need to have an "Island" in the middle so the roots don't get completely waterlogged. I'm not sure if that will be a problem for you, though. Just something to watch.
Someone mentioned importing as much organic matter as you have. I'd bring in wood chips, grass clippings or whatever you have access to. Hopefully if you get them thick enough or in pits (maybe in your drainages?) they'll compost or at least hold water.
I'm not sure how much you'll be at your land, but be deliberate with greywater. You might be able to get some shade trees for your camper or something established. I suppose you could even run it to your compost pit but I think I'd only do that if I was composting and establishing a tree in the same pit.
For your map, it would be interesting to be able to look at it on different maps. caltopo.com would let you save the outline of your land and view it over satellite image or a variety of topo maps.
You've got a long project going so be patient. I'd try working just a few spots really well and letting hem spread over the course of years. You said you wanted to just get out of town but you might ask "what would make being here even more desirable/pleasant?" I'd think some kind of shade would make me more likely to spend time there. I suppose you could even excavate your own cave to stay cool. But the more reasons there are to visit your land the more likely you are to actually go there. Frisbee golf, shooting range, practicing bushcraft skills, hunting, stargazing, whatever.
Plant species. I'd look into yucca, cactus, russian olive, siberian peashrub, mesquite, alfalfa, and pinyon pine. Junipers (western red cedar) are probably hardy but probably don't have enough redeeming characteristics to make them worth planting.
Have fun! I'm somewhat jealous of your project and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
Stefanie Chandler wrote:I am now at odds with the man across the street. He is on the down hill side of the road. The owner up hill from him let the drainage ditch and culvert fill in and now the water goes out on to the road. I have a culvert and under the drive that leads to the same culvert. He has started coming across and digging small trenches across my drive. The rain makes them erode so I took my shovel and started digging the mud out of the ditch to fill the trench; he came at me pushed me out of the way and tore the shovel out of my hands and walked off with it. It was not even his land
Location is important but don’t forget the drainage and the neighbors.
That's terrible Stefanie! I feel for you. I do agree with John's post above and I think if this guy is not held accountable, the bar has been set and he'll now think he can treat you this way and get away with it.
Welcome, Elizabeth! This is a frequent topic, for hubs & me, because in the last few years, we've each lost a parent, and so have several of our friends, plus both of our surviving parents have had a couple close calls, and with us being bikers... well, we are highly aware that 70+ mph on 2wheels puts us both at a much higher mortality risk, than being in a box, on 4wheels. I'm looking forward to learning from you!
connor burke wrote:
do you have a youtube channel you could post videos to, just walking around the capital and looking for cool things would be nice to watch.
It's illegal to film video tape in the capital :-) But I would be happy to film a walk around my gardens here. I garden in both locations. In the capital I have heavy clay soil, and in the bush it's totally sandy soil, so it has been fascinating to garden both at the same time in the same climate.
yikes, luckily you can show your garden XD the fun part about clay soil is that it wicks up water to the surface so creating shade will do a lot of good. try to buy some scythes while you are there, when you bring it back you will be able to harvest some grass for mulch before they burn it.
moon calendar lunar phase I made this interactive moon calendar for voice - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T8XYMCY I'm really looking for feedback on how to make it better, what cool stuff to include in it, sources of information, etc.! Especially relating to lunar gardening, nutrition according to moon phases, and people's experiences.
Thank you for your replies :)
Thanks so much Dennis Bangham for the info. I Will be starting this experiment next month, I will let you know how it goes. TOM, I will not eat the mushrooms no mater how tempting they may look. I always have more questions.. do puffballs detox the same way? I can find them readily arround the farm.
Mike, I am also starting rotational grazing ( or paddock grazing) with cattle next year that will help replenish the soil. I will start with goats followed by cattle then chickens...But I also wanted to follow the chickens with compost. and reseeding with more native fodder and a variety of native medicinal plants. will speed up the healing and make great soil, and good feed.
I currently have a 20" break between out fields and the conventional farming neighbor .. Thinking about using some trees as a barrier and detox planting.. Wondering if I plant ash then use it for fire wood if I will pollute the air and my land all over again. ? Ah, its so depressing trying to fight the toxic way our culture lives on the earth.
Thank you so much for the info.
Nathanael Szobody wrote:There is a series of forts built along France's Eastern border in the late 1800's. Some were built by the French, some by the Germans, and they were all built in-ground with enormous Earth berms. The idea was to be resistant to shelling and hard to spot. They became obsolete with the advent of aircraft.
The construction was vaulted stone masonry. The buildings themselves were two or three stories tall, all with a couple meters of earth bermed from the exterior up over the top, leaving large interior facing courtyards.
All this without plastic membrane.
I have visited three of them. Some of the interior space is rented out as offices and art space, but even the unrenovated sections are still in solid shape. So why can't we build houses like this? Where's the dreaded water leaking in and tree roots crumbling the structure? These places are covered in forest!
You can Google "fort de tamié", "fort du mont, Albertville," or "fort Kléber" to see the ones I've been to.
The term we have today is called 'designed obsolescence'.
They want to make cheap housing, sell it for a high price, then get you o repairs down the road.
Same way with old appliances vs new ones. Tools too. Cars, everything.
Anything to get your money as often as possible.
About those bomb shelters - how thick were the walls and ceiling?
They also used excellent concrete - not the poor grade stuff we use today.
They also let it cure at one inch per day too back then. Slower the cure the harder and longer it will last.
Today they usually add chemicals to give it a fast cure.
And the steel reinforcing is sub grade steel and not even galvanized.
Sounds like you’ll have your hands full not just for the year or two you’re building but for at least the next fifteen!
I have seen couples with small children play a very active role in building their own homes, whether straw bale or not. I have also seen it not work, but if you go into this knowing how much you can take on and where you need help, you’ll be fine.
Taking a straw bale building workshop is excellent preparation, at least for the straw bale stacking and plastering parts of the project (unless the workshop also covered foundations, framing, roofing, windows, doors, electrical, plumbing, VAC, etc.). Probably less than 20% of a straw bale building, in terms of materials, time, and cost, has anything to do with the plastered straw bale wall assembly, even though that’s the defining part of the building. The rest of it is a lot like any other construction project.
Twelve years years ago my wife and I worked evenings and weekends on our own straw bale house while we held down full-time jobs. We supplied about 50% of the labor, and with the help of family, friends, and a handful of contractors to do those things we didn’t have much experience with we finished in eighteen months. Although I’m still working on it (a contractor’s house is never really finished?) it was a deeply gratifying experience. Like you, we had taken a few workshops and remodeled a previous home so had a pretty good idea of what we were in for.
Unless you have plenty of time, money, or skill, I recommend keeping the design simple, e.g. a rectangle with a gable roof, or something similar. As we say in Chapter 2 of the book, the longer it takes to draw your house on paper, the more complicated and costly it will be to build, and the longer it will take.
Montana Resources. You might check with the folks at the Natural Building Alliance, until very recently known as the Colorado Straw Bale Building Association—they have members throughout the Rocky Mountain states. I’d also contact two very talented folks from Idaho and Montana who attended recent CASBA conferences. Lindsey Love is an architect with Love-Schack Architecture out of Driggs, Idaho, and has worked on straw bale building projects. Also, Mark Jensen out of Bozeman, Montana has a lot of experience building with bales.
Jen Fan wrote:IMO terms like "game" and "luck" and that kind of crap needs to get thrown in the dumpster and burned.
I completely agree with you about 'game', but I'm not sure in what context you mean 'luck'. There is definitely a timing issue, which could be attributed to luck. I've been turned down by women because they have a boyfriend or because they weren't in the right space or even mood to be asked out, which is all understandable. The term, and approach I hate most is 'negging' where the guy puts the woman down or ignores her so that she is challenged. I know it works as I've seen it many times and there are a lot of 'pick-up artists' that teach that method.
The popular term "get lucky", usually is a reference to getting laid. As if it's just 'luck' that a woman decided to have sex with him. As if she has no independent thought process or rationale. It's just "luck" that it happened. It doesn't have anything to do with HIM or his behavior or the impression he gave her. It's just him being "lucky".
That's what I'm referring to.
Timothy Markus wrote:
It is very hard to ask a girl/woman out for most guys. I've known a lot of guys who are far too nervous, even in their 20's, and some of it is acute shyness and social issues.
And it's equally difficult for women to ask men. I've done it, it sucks! I'm not talking about asking out here though. I'm talking about a literal inability to speak with women. Guys say; "Well... I don't know what to say.". Well, what would you say if she were a man! She's just human like you! Connect with her on a human level, rather than trying to 'figure out' how to communicate with someone who is just as capable of communicating as he is.
The culture can be subtle and is so common we almost don't notice it happening. For instance, I stopped to ask for directions once. I actually knew the guy I was asking from many years back; he's much older, more of a 'teacher' figure. I'm giving him my full attention, looking him in the eyes, and asking him directly. He's avoiding eye contact. My male friend gets out of the car to come join the conversation, doesn't say anything and is hanging in the background. And what does the gentleman giving directions do? Turn to my friend, look him directly in the eyes, and tell HIM the directions I asked for. Which involved lots of hand motion and pointing and physical motion. My friend was nearly blind and couldn't even see the important hand gestures. I couldn't see them as the gentleman had turned away from me and totally stopped talking to me. And it's like... DUDE. I'm the one that asked you, but you're SO MUCH MORE comfortable talking to a MAN that you can't even answer my question to my face.
I used to run a business, too. And men would come in, start talking to my male employee, who would in turn interrupt them to say "she's the one you want to speak with" (pointing at me) and the men would look me up and down and just continue to talk to him. It was a CHRONIC habitual problem.
This crap happens daily. It's constant. And it's SO INCREDIBLY REFRESHING when a man actually treats me like a normal human being.
Timothy Markus wrote:My own mom was a more than equal partner and I have a hard time understanding how anyone with a mom could think women are lesser, especially since most mothers do far more to raise their kids than dads. I'm always surprised by racism, still, because I just can't see any meaningful difference just for the sake of a different colour or language, so I'm just naive I guess.
I agree. When you're not actually indoctrinated with the culture, the culture seems strange and non-sensical from the outside. Funny how that works!
Timothy Markus wrote:When my daughter started dating, her mother got her all worked up that I wouldn't like her boyfriend (we were separated and she was trying to alienate me), so my daughter was nervous to tell me. When I found out, I asked if he could come over for dinner. He was a great kid and I told her that I'd never dislike a guy just because he was dating her. I told her that, if I ever didn't like a guy, I'd let her know and she'd know that there was a real reason. She's dated some great guys and two of them have considered me a father figure because I was always welcoming. I think that's the best approach. Mind you, we talk about almost everything and always have, and I've pretty much raised her alone, even when I was with her mom. If my daughter ever dated a guy I thought was an ass to her, I'd let her know, but she's been very good about weeding those guys out. We do get a lot of laughs about some of the stupid approaches she has to deal with, so it's not all bad.
That's awesome to hear :) As someone who had/has no relationship with their parents due to their own disinterest in their children's lives, it's always cool to hear about proactive parenting!
Michael, I know we can all agree that soil is the heart of any healthy garden system! Currently. I am in a research-binge about carbon sequestration in soils, no-till methods, and increasing sustainable soil health. My current reading list includes: Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich, Climate-Wise Gardening by Reed and Stibolt, and The Food Forest Handbook by Darrell Frey. Some of the books have new info for me and some old info, but I always appreciate reminders! I also find Heide Hermary's Working with Nature to be deeply inspiring and I reference Fred Magdoff's Building Soils for Better Crops often to compare/illustrate different practices and attitudes about soil on large and small scales, with older students. I'm also looking forward to my copy of Eric Toensmeier's The Carbon Farming Solution to come into the mail.
Tamara, yes! Kindergarteners have been some of my best students! And the earlier they start learning in the garden, the more passionate, knowledgeable, and adventurous they are when they're older. Some of my favorite online resources include:
1) For seasonal and age-appropriate garden lessons, Life Lab always inspires me, as well as The Edible Schoolyard Project.
2) Mother Earth News, Deep Green Permaculture, and The Permaculture Research Institute also inspire me regularly
3) I often look at resources local to me, such as the Oregon State University Extension Office, my local Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Oregon Department of Education/Agriculture School Garden Resources
Richard Gorny wrote:I give this book 9 out of 10 acorns.
Disclaimer: I have translated this book (and the workbook) into Polish for the author, so that might have influenced my review a bit
First of all, such book was desperately needed and certainly it is quite a big step forward in permaculture education for kids (and older as well). The book can be a great help for teachers but also for those who seek basic knowledge on permaculture and do not have a time for reading fat "bibles" like Mollison's PD Manual.
Matt briefly goes through the entire curriculum of the PDC course, in a very condensed, easy to read, well illustrated and suitable for kids form.
The workbook associated with the book makes it unique, it contains nearly all what is needed in order to make first steps in permaculture design of own property.
Personally I have a feeling that some chapters are suitable for a younger, some for older reader, which might make it difficult for a single kid, but on the other hand better for a wider audience or for home schooling in a larger family.
Overall I strongly recommend this book to any parents who want their kids to acquaint with permaculture in a more structured way.
It sounds like this is a book that you read over and over again, as a reference, and as a textbook. As such, a child could "grow up" with the book, and absorb the concepts as they grow into them...
Wanted to post an update for future people who have my issue. I did go with the root rake option on my land, and could not be happier with my choice. It's amazing looking at the difference in the pasture from pictures of last year to roughly the same time now. I did also fertilize and reseed the pasture after the rake. When you have such an infestation of cacti, I found it unreasonable to spend years digging by hand or hoping goats would eat the stuff and attempt to avoid cacti while working on the land at the same time. It did take a solid year for the land to recover but I now have a decent pasture with minimal cacti that I could reasonably remove by hand.
I just started mowing to help eliminate some of the twiggy and weedy growth but will be stocking with goats and alpaca for land maintenance, and eventually add guinea hogs to help clear some woody areas and help root my garden.
This answer is a little lateral to the question but I hope it's of some value to you. Let the kettle die it's natural death.
Kettles burn up huge amounts of energy to heat a couple of cups of water. In fact, it's so much energy, that in the UK the power grid has to spin up extra turbines in time with the ad breaks on Eastenders at certain times of the day. Those times being morning and afternoon tea.
Consider instead heating your tea / coffee in the microwave. If you already have one and only use it for heating up leftovers this would count towards "multiple uses" for a device. They are very power efficient, though a little slower at heating a single cup of coffee.
When I think of "raging river", I see the creek that runs through my property, which can move 2000 pound boulders and 80 foot tall pine trees roots and all downstream in a major flood... so the picture of a brisk stream flowing peacefully through grassland is incongruous to me
But the OP's description sounds more like my situation than later posters'. Without access to modify the headwaters, there is nothing that can be done unless there is access to large rocks, in the several hundred pound range, and lots of them. Large tree trunks in plenty might also be effective at making control structures that will not be washed away in floods.
If water rights are not involved, the idea of adding swales to conduct bankful flooding away to soak into the ground may be viable, although my experience with similar features is that the access from the streambed to swales would need to be reestablished after every flood, as the water will deposit sand or gravel or other debris in all secondary channels as the water recedes, leaving only the main channel(s) for flow.
The cold wither caused camera or operator malfunctions that resulted in fewer pictures than expected but here are a few. Clearly in the un-irrigated areas directing the extra moisture will make a major difference and in areas that are downslope of neighbors who irrigate I will be in good shape.
Mary-Ellen Zands wrote:We are having a major issue with snow and ice on the roof. Since yes it snowed again! All last night. Yes it looks like a winter wonderland but now I’m getting tired of this. It was supposed to rain all night, that didn’t happen. Spent the last 2 days on the metal roof of the house. Shoveling ice and snow off. Afraid of the rain that’s in the forecast. On the news the last couple of days, they are talking about all the roof cave-ins in the area. Don’t need that extra headache! Trying to be proactive. On our metal roof, we had these brakes installed at the bottom edge. Because we didn’t want the snow coming down in huge heaps and blocking the entrances to the house and damaging the trees and gardens that are close to the house.
Well now we can’t get into the house via the garage or the garage door. The piles of ice and snow are about 8feet high!
Another problem on the north side of the house is ice curls. They come crashing down on the deck and do a lot of damage to the kiwi vine and structure that are growing there. Of course to the deck too. We’ve had to rebuild reweld metal structure from last year when it became all mangled. So hopefully now I can stay on top of it by attacking the curls piece by piece from the bottom.
We had a similar problem following a blizzard in Colorado. I used to have a picture of the wind cornice almost touching the ground, but my stupid MAC seems to have eaten it. (I can't seem to find anything on it anymore!) I only have the less dramatic photo of the aftermath when the whole thing collapsed. The cornice almost touched the drift seen in the shadows on the left. Where the snow fell was like a tunnel formed by the snow cornice.
paul wheaton wrote:Something I would like to explore a lot more is the idea of growing apples from seeds.
My understanding is that if your grow an apple from seed, it will have a tap root. Any other way and it won't have a tap root.
And .... if you grow an apple from seed, the apples might be great or they might be lousy. But even if the apples are lousy, I suppose you could graft good apple varieties on to the tree.
Anybody have experience in this space and can tell us about what to be careful of? Are there some seeds that might be better than others?
As I understand it, the rootstock is selected for adaption to the local growing conditions and for its hardiness. The grafts are selected for their eating and/or cooking qualities. I would think that any seedling that is started in a tall-pot system would form a tap root.
Sherrie Dawn Bays wrote:Thank you for the information and suggestions.
We have 9 sheep, 8 goats, turkeys, guineas, 15ish chickens. The livestock at this point are on the 1.5 ac area of the main homestead, so that leaves about 3.5 to grow something else. The land is clay and dried silt from the ancient lake that was here. it grows Russian thistle and cheat grass well.
The water settles around the chicken coop, the lowest part of our place. The slope of the land is very gradual to the south. I thought of swells and a chicken tractor for fertilizer.
Our temps run 100 for a couple months in the summer. We average 9 in rain and 19 of snow. We don't have more water rights than one ac. so whatever we plant has to tolerate drought. We aren't on a Playa.
First, You probably are trying to run too many goats and sheep for the current productivity of your ranch's available pasture. Developing a system of shallow swales that follow the contour lines of your acreage would be a good start towards being able to improve and regenerate your soils. Get a copy of Brad Lancaster's Two-volume tome, "Rainwater Harvesting", to give you a better handle on the strategies that could be applied in the various areas of your holdings.
The first thing to do is to let your goats eat the Russian thistle and cheatgrass, Especially when they are in their young pre-flowering growth stage. You'll want to keep the animals off of any areas that you seed with a mix of native pasture species. I would move the chicken coop to higher ground, and seed the areas that collect moisture with ddeep taprooted plants that will add organic materials to the soil, and break through any hardpan that may have developed. Here is one of Gabe Brown's videos, and some notes I took while watching it:
1. Grow things, for as long as possible, all year
2. Focus on keeping your mycorrhizal fungi happy.
3. Use the <b>Hainey SoilTest</b>
For example, "What is the Soil Resource you are trying to improve?"
Mixed species cover crops
It is important to "armor" any bare soil as soon as possible in order to keep your "Effective rainfall" from evaporating away in the sun and wind. A mixture of ground covers: clovers and grasses and deep taproot-forming forbs will eventually provide all of the feed required by your menagerie, as long as you come up with a management plan that respects the growth cycle of your established vegetation. NEVER, ever allow your livestock to consume over 50% of the ground cover before moving them to another part of your ranch.
Look up the Polyface Farms approaches livestock management to get some ideas how, for instance, your chicken tractor can follow your sheep and goats into a paddock. The key is to keep everybody moving into "greener pastures" <u>before</u> they eat everything and expose the soil to the direct UV of the sun. You will have to plan for wintering your herds and flocks, perhaps by letting their numbers become smaller as fall and winter draws neigh.
You are becoming a "grass farmer", which is how you will end up restoring your pastures to their full potential. To do that, you must make every raindrop or snowflake that hits your property into "Effective Precipitation" by quickly infiltrating into the soil, where it is accessible to the plants. Keep in mind that sheep and goats prefer different plant types as food. Make sure that the goats get enough shrubs and even small trrees. consider planting coppice trees to act as windbreaks and forage for the goats,
Look up Gabe Brown and Greg Judy for their excellent YouTube videos on the subject. I have posted much of this on other forums, but I can re-post the links if you need them.
There is a soil test that will give you added insight as to what "resource" you are promoting as you manage your soils. Different parts of you land may require different treatments,
I don't believe I'm quite so jaded as Spencer, but I have witnessed the children first thing destroy a few otherwise promising unions. Once kids realize that they are at the center of a power struggle, many will attempt to rule the roost.
Some mothers ditch their kids for a man, or get involved with someone dangerous to children. So, it could be worse.
I recently went looking for and found a mate. No children was an important criteria for me, and I love kids. But I didn't want to have to deal with exes and the devided loyalties that are unavoidable when taking on a whole family.
I have grown children. My fiance has worried many times, that my children's opinions could have some bearing on our relationship. So, I have explained at length, that no relative or other person, has any say in how I conduct my personal life. She's from a place where many relatives are consulted on these matters. So, it was a bit of a shock, especially when I explained that I put absolutely no stock in anything that my mother thinks or says.
Many relatives like to chime in when their opinions are unsolicited and unwelcome. She has difficulty saying no, to those who are very nosey, or who think their views matter. On many occasions, she has said, "What if your brothers this or what if your ex wife that." So, I remind her that they are all welcome to feed from our toilet. A few times, I cut her off mid sentence, and asked, " What can they do?" And she has replied, " Eat from the toilet." It still comes up at least once a week. " What if your family don't want you to pay for my sister's school or to support my mother? " So, we go over it again. "What if they don't want you to buy a farm in the Philippines? " And it continues. These questions are coming up less and less over time, but my behavior is so far out of the norm, for what she's seen before, that it will take a long time to get used to. Wives in her country are often bullied by the mother in law. And sometimes they have no say in what happens in their own lives.
She really likes the idea of doing exactly what we want, without consulting anybody, but still thinks that we are getting away with something.
The website lost my first attempt at responding to your question. (loud sounds of frustration emit from my lips) LOL!
Water is a foundational concern. The adage is "Slow the water, Spread the water, and Sink the water". In a desert, you must think in terms of capturing all the rainwater that touches your land.
If you control where the water goes, you will know where to plant your Food Forest garden guilds (a plant guild is a collection of plants that create a symbiotic web of mutual support).
Brad Lancasters' two-volume tomes on Rainwater Harvesting will serve as your bible for supplying water for your garden. They are available on Amazon.com and Chelseagreen.com, among other online resources. Other books include Stella Otto's books about orchards and berries. Look at some of the other "greening-the Desert" threads for links that I have posted pointing to videos and articles on Restorative Pastures and Intensive Livestock Management.
You need to set for your new gardeners the task of observing the land and plan how best to use the whole property. Then determine a plan of development that starts with small steps that following actions can build on. For instance, some areas may be suitable as pastures at first as a method for restoring larger tracts of poor soil. If a self-sustaining pasture can be established, it may be possible to offer livestock herding services to local livestock owners, which could provide funding for other garden projects.
Establish a place to compost all organic materials, such as food scraps, manure from livestock, and other restorative gardening techniques, such as restorative pastures and intensive livestock management techniques. I have posted links on some of the other threads on this site.
Figure out where your "food trees" and "nurturing trees" can best be established, and plant your rainwater harvest where it will support those trees. Those trees will serve as the "Anchor Plants" for the rest of your food-forest plant guilds.
Early on, establish a "seed-saving" library and a system for saving seeds, and a plan for collecting cuttings to propagate new plants from existing perennial food plants. Also, create a library for books on gardening that can help your charges to research and teach themselves in your absence. Perhaps you can get some donations of books from the many experts on this site. The garden project should be integrated into any literacy project that may already be in place.
I am a "soils and water" guy, I hope the plant experts will soon chime in on the best plants to use. Observe what the other farmers in the area plant, but also observe what native food plants are supporting the local wildlife.
I will cut this comment short, but be sure to reply with any more specific questions that your situation brings up. Good luck in all of your endeavors.
Find a botanical garden that has the species you have planted and contact them requesting some rhizosphere soil to inoculate yours with.
As a rule, nitrogen fixing bacteria tend to shut down when soil nitrogen levels are moderate to high. If your soil has a lot of nitrogen in it, they aren't really needed and won't associate with roots or form nodules.
You can "starve" your plants of nitrogen by mixing sawdust or other high C:N ratio material into the soil. This will last for weeks or months or even years, depending on how much material is incorporated and lignin content. Sawdust is practically pure lignin, making it a good choice.
To determine sawdust requirements, first determine the quantity of nitrogen in the soil solution from soil test results. Convert ppm N to lbs N/acre by multiplying by 2. Multiply soil solution nitrogen (lbs N/acre) by 1.375 to determine the number of cubic yards of sawdust to incorporate per acre and scale it to the amount of area you'll be planting. This will bring N levels in the sawdust-treated soil down to virtually nil for 8-12 weeks, after which, available soil N will slowly start to rebound.. Adding more will last longer.
This won't happen if the sawdust is used as a mulch. It must be incorporated into the soil.
Be careful not to incorporate sawdust in soil that will be planted with non-legumes!
Mark, I added your post to a couple of other forums, hope that helps.
Sounds like you are looking for volunteer/wwoofer like people to help build things up in exchange for a place to live, learn and play ?
I live on the Pacific Wet Coast, so the "sun" season is also the "drought" season. When we moved here 20 years ago, the former owner irrigated most of the property constantly. I knew I had neither the time nor the will to do so, but didn't want to kill the fruit trees. I started to water them less often each year, but made sure that when I did water, I watered slowly overnight so that the water went deep, and now it is rare that I water the apple trees at all - maybe once in the middle of the drought period if it's a particularly long one. The plum tree I planted needs more organic matter in the soil and is in a *very* dry spot with competition from a cedar hedge. Even so, I only watered it twice this year, but did so deeply. Mulch has its downsides here, because we get a lot of moisture as dew in August and Sept before the rain usually comes. That said, I'm going to try to expand on its companions (a friend just gave me some comfrey roots which will be part of that), and try to get wood chips incorporated into the soil.
From this experience, I see irrigation as a balance - none and I may get no harvest, daily and I waste time, water, and the energy to pump that water. If I watered more, I know I would get more and larger fruit on some of the trees, but that said, I also think that trees that have to work to make their fruit are likely to produce fruit with more flavour and micro-nutrients. I'd rather plant more trees and use less water to get the volume of food, rather than have large, anemic produce.
Lauren Ritz wrote:
I have an area to the east of my house that gets approximately 7 hours of direct sun.
Sun is a huge factor! I live beside a huge cedar and fir forest and I'm constantly watching exactly where the sun is at what time of the year. Many things that local friends can grow just don't get enough sun on my land, so I have to choose carefully what to plant. That said, east sun is particularly helpful, and west sun can cause overheating and worse drying out, at least in my ecosystem. Some plants are more tolerant of that west sun and more appreciative of the heat. Your observation of your plants is just as critical as the continued improvement of the soil, and your goal of drought tolerant seedlings. Keep up the good work!
I’m in western SD, the Black Hills, and I’m very much impressed by your aerial photo. I don’t know where you are exactly, but I’ve driven through miles and miles of Wyoming where you wonder how the antelope survive. You’ve got green grass, and that’s a lot. With all you’ve done, and in such a short period of time? You and you alone? You should be proud. Wyoming is a hard country—most of it, anyway. Seriously! Keep it up. You’re doing wonderfully well with what you’ve got to work with.
Making the desert bloom is no easy task but (from what I’ve read) it can be done. You might look into the possibility of ruminants—goats I suppose, since they’re small and not too picky—only what the land can carry in summer unless you want to feed year-round. Grazing responsibly is part of the treatment being used successfully at the edges of the African deserts in places. Cows are probably easier, though they eat more. My three Scottish Highland girls are very sweet and so easy to fence and move from one small paddock to the next. They reportedly improve the soil if grazed that way. That’s not why I got them, tbh, tho I’m hoping for that to happen. I just had to have them—I’m in love. Plus chickens to follow them around next spring when they’ve gotten old enough to let them out of their run. We’ll see what happens. I’m excited and hope you’ll continue to work wonders on your lucky patch of earth.
If you are in the Las Tusas that is near Sapello, NM( Mora County) then the Soil and Water Conservation office in Mora rents farm equipment for a good cost. They even have a person come and run the equipment for you depending on what it is. We have rented fence post augers, tractor 3pt hitch tillers, seeders, chippers, etc. It is a great resource!
We had some really lovely flood irrigated grass/alfalfa pastures in Cleveland, just past Mora. Saw lots of improvement rotating a small herd of dairy goats, free range chickens and adding minerals and more diversity of forbes. The pastures had been over grazed by horses before we moved there but they came back nicely in just a couple of years. It is very good pasture country if you can deal with the pocket gophers. We grew some beautiful alfalfa, but the gophers love to eat on the roots.
There is a guy down the Sapello river from you who is an expert in beavers. He has permission to relocate them from ranches where people are trying to get rid of them. He has an experimental place where he re introduced beaver, planted willows and cottonwood for them and then tests water quality. water was much cleaner after bringing in beavers and his riparian area is improving dramatically from when the previous owners were over grazing cattle that eroded the stream banks.