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Winter too wet, summer too dry, how do I fix it?  RSS feed

 
A Philipsen
Posts: 58
Location: OR - Willamette Valley
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I have an acre+- at the bottom of my property that I am having a hard time figuring what to do with. It's a low spot, so standing water for a good part of the winter, and trees - a few nice big oaks, some ash, a few scrubby apple and pear seedlings getting slowly choked out by the ash, and one Douglas Fir. It's pretty bare underneath right now, it was overgrown with blackberry and roses, but the goats fixed that. I'm thinking that now, before stuff grows back, is the time to do something to it, and it definitely needs something, the trees in the soggiest spots are scraggly and unhealthy. I have no idea what to do. There's also an old drainage ditch across one side. It goes from one neighbor to another. In the winter it contains water and boys and ducks I could probably run a spur out from that and drain all the standing water spots, but that just seems wrong. I'm leaning toward maybe a small system of ponds(?), swales(?) puddles(?), not sure what to call them, realistically, I don't think I can expect to have water in them year-round. It seems there should be some way to confine the water a little so it's not drowning half the trees all winter and yet keep it from running off so they aren't parched in the summer. I have also considered cutting out the scraggliest trees (one to two inches in diameter and unhealthy) from the wettest parts and making piles around the wet areas (as in hugelkulture) for planting areas, but again, it's all pretty level and the water tends to spread over large areas 2-3 inches deep. It would be nice to decrease the surface area and increase the depth of the standing water, I think. If I could keep enough water around to call it a wetland all year, that would be fine too, but right now, it goes to bone-dry in the summer and the extremes don't seem to make anything down there happy. I want to mitigate the extremes of wet-to-dry which should improve the health of the trees and allow me to plant an understory in there.

So, anybody have a similar project? Advice? Random comments?
 
John Sizemore
Posts: 96
Location: West Virginia/ Dominican Republic
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1 Dawn redwoods may grow there for a long term timber species.
2 Dredge out the very center of a few of the low spots so there is always water in them and put in some fish.
3 Plant it with willows and let your goats have it for forage or better yet cut whips every year for craft supply or willow furniture to sell.
4 Lingon berries or cranberries may like the wet feet.
5 Continue to use if for pasture.
 
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