Tyler Ludens wrote:I can't too strongly recommend the book Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands Volume 2 by Brad Lancaster. More info about rainwater harvesting earthworks than one can implement in a lifetime.
Thank you for the detailed reply. I was able to download a pdf of Lancaster's book. I'll dig into it right away. Montello area is dry, yes. But all of the natural washes show signs of large amounts of water around at times. I'm hoping with some earthworks I can trap some of it. I just ordered a few hundred sand bags as that, and collecting rocks, are my cheapest options for making dams.
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Montello eh? Yup, that's remote!!! And dry. You dared to start a fire? I'm chicken. I've had two near misses now with starting the whole county on fire. That sure is a nice fire ring.
A shrub that you might plant is goji berry. There are still some surviving along the railroad tracks, which were planted by the Chinese that dug the railroad 150 years ago.
You might consider planting rye in late August, so that it can sprout and grow with the fall/winter/spring rains.
When I prune the branches from the lower 6 feet of trees to make the trees less likely to be torched in a firestorm, the cows decide that is the perfect place to seek shade, so it's a simple way to gather lots of organic matter. And with it being so dry, it sits under the trees and mummifies. So it isn't currently useful, but it might be some day if I can get some water and some manure in the same place at the same time. Nice thing about doing wildfire management, is that the cut off tree branches make wonderful checkdams.
Check dams a single layer deep have been my most successful water retention earthworks. Initially, I ignored Brad's advice that smaller is better.
F Agricola wrote: Is the property fenced to keep out neighbouring cattle? The reason I ask is that cattle tend to degrade water courses by eroding banks and fouling water. Removing their access to the water courses on your property will allow you to construct dams and rehabilitate the drainage lines with trees and shrubs. Doing it without fences will be a draw-card for every animal in the vicinity.
[My rule: if a neighbours sheep or cattle finds itself onto my land, it becomes my property = dinner for several weeks!]
For potable water, the photo below may give you a relatively easy alternative to collect and store it – one or more of these spread across the property would be good for man and beast – future rig-up of water troughs, etc for your animals too.
Chad Zavala wrote:Hello everyone,
... Overall just a fun place to be away from civilization.
...permaculture and water retention.
This parcel has many natural hills and valleys as well as washes from rain.
Chad Zavala wrote:
Nearly the entire surrounding area for hundreds of thousands of acres is owned/grazed by the largest cattle ranch in North America. This means cattle have free range of this parcel but I think there is so much land they access that I believe overgrazing is not a problem but I'm not sure. For the dozen or so times I've been out there I have never seen a cow anywhere.
Chad Zavala wrote: Any tips on what organics I can grow once the water is managed a little better? Grasses, nitrogen fixers, bushes etc.? Keeping in mind that any building of good soil would be incredibly labor and cost prohibited due to the remoteness of the land.
Thank you in advance!
Thanks for the tips. The land is unfenced. I kind of like this fact since there is nothing man made as far as the eye can see in any direction. But as I mentioned in the original post I believe the cattle range on so much land that over grazing is not an issue.
Purity Lopez wrote:I live in the High Desert of California. 3400'. I tried, really tried, permaculture. It was a total bust for me. With no real constant supply of rain, nothing composted.
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:A shrub that you might plant is goji berry. There are still some surviving along the railroad tracks, which were planted by the Chinese that dug the railroad 150 years ago.
"Yet far more interesting than manure is the use of other local materials: flood and firewood detritus, ash, crop wastes, and the litter beneath leguminous desert trees. The humus developed in association with tree legumes is a remarkable choice for soil amendments. Mesquite and ironwood are key in the nutrient balance of desert washes, since they may both pump and fix nitrogen that can then become available to aid in the growth of other plants. Papago families still seek out places where moist, rich litter has accumulated under these woody legumes, sensing what scientists have only recently confirmed. They then dig up the top two or three feet of organic matter around the trees, and take it back to their plants to enrich them.
"The most important soil amendment for Papago fields is not something the People themselves carry into the fields -- they merely encourage floods to haul it in. By properly locating their fields 'at the mouths of washes,' and by constructing low, water-spreading fences of woven brush, they help floodwater to dump its load of debris within the fields. Drifts of the material, called wako'ola, are left behind the water-spreaders after the flood has moved on.
"Rummaging through a foot-high drift of wako'ola that had been deposited on a field near Topowa, I was surprised at the organic richness of its contents: rodent dung, mesquite leaves, mulch developed under trees, and water-smoothed twigs. The farmers at Topowa take this flotsam, spread it, and plow it into their soil. Enough of this humus comes into their fields to add an inch of organic matter to the cultivated surface each growing season, reducing soil alkalinity and increasing moisture holding capacity."
Chris Ferguson wrote:Springs Preserve had tons of success with trees and plants from Australia but I'm kind of leery of imports and prefer to go native.
Daniel Kaplan wrote:
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.