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The sort of "bedrock" shelf is about 18 inches to 2 feet down, but there is a layer of loose rocks mixed with clay over it, which we've been digging out and replacing with buried wood. The wood seems to be helping a lot with water retention.



 
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18-24" actually isn't so bad for limestone . That pic someone posted of the house with the tree that fell over taking the whole yard with it looked like maybe 12" at best.

I took some time to look over your projects more thoroughly, and what you've already done is pretty good. I'm curious as to why you've arranged your gardens in blobs, though. They don't seem to work with the water flow much, although I could be mistaken.

I have an idea about how to deal with the yard flooding issue. Could you post up a satellite with the area that gets flooded highlighted and the water flows into it marked?
 
Tyler Ludens
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M Troyka wrote: I'm curious as to why you've arranged your gardens in blobs, though. They don't seem to work with the water flow much, although I could be mistaken.



Not sure what you mean by "blobs" nor how they should work better with the water flow. Water flows off the back field into the kitchen garden and future water garden, and water flows from the shop area and driveway into the large garden below the house area. With a couple more earthworks and a little more work on the driveway, more water should be directed into the gardens.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's a satellite pic showing the "problem" water flows in yellow arrows, with future earthworks in purple



I'm hoping by putting in a few berms and maybe swales that I can direct more water into the gardens and less by/under the house and down the driveway. That's the hope and plan, anyway.

 
Marc Troyka
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Tyler Ludens wrote:[Not sure what you mean by "blobs" nor how they should work better with the water flow. Water flows off the back field into the kitchen garden and future water garden, and water flows from the shop area and driveway into the large garden below the house area. With a couple more earthworks and a little more work on the driveway, more water should be directed into the gardens.



I think I understand it a bit better now. Your gardens are planted in french style "beds". Whenever I think "water conservation" I usually think in terms of more terrace-ish raised beds in rows. Ideally, the "furrows" between the raised beds form a swale.

Directing water into the garden is a good idea, but I think your planned swales are possibly too far off contour (ie trying to push water uphill) and you may end up with a puddle all in one spot. I would start further uphill in the field, either with birms or swales. Compacted clay and rocks happen to make great construction materials for water-controlling structures (that's all the incas used to build their irrigation systems and terraces).

One other thing, given how much runoff you get, it might be a good idea to build a small infiltration pond not far uphill from your garden and feed it more gradually through the ground. That would prevent waterlogging of the garden, and probably eliminate the need for any manual watering/irrigation.

I'll post a pic in a bit showing more what I'm talking about.
 
Tyler Ludens
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M Troyka wrote:

Your gardens are planted in french style "beds".



No, I don't think so. The garden shapes are dictated by the shape of the open ground and a shape which is easy to fence (a round shape).....

M Troyka wrote:I'll post a pic in a bit showing more what I'm talking about.



Thank you.

 
Marc Troyka
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

M Troyka wrote:

Your gardens are planted in french style "beds".



No, I don't think so. The garden shapes are dictated by the shape of the open ground and a shape which is easy to fence (a round shape).....



I'm getting confused thinking your pictures showed a whole garden at any one time. I see what you're saying though (and figured out the trees on the satellite map XD), although it's hard to get a good idea of how the light, terrain, etc really is without actually standing there looking at it. I spent like 2 whole days observing light and terrain just for the small project I'm working on.

Tyler Ludens wrote:

M Troyka wrote:I'll post a pic in a bit showing more what I'm talking about.



Thank you.



Orange = embankments
Light Blue = Swale
Dark Blue = infiltration pond

MTWaterPlan.jpg
[Thumbnail for MTWaterPlan.jpg]
 
Tyler Ludens
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That's extremely helpful, thank you!

 
Marc Troyka
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Tyler Ludens wrote:That's extremely helpful, thank you!



Any time . I could use the practice.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Starting work on a little food forest experiment. The plan is to build a hugelkultur for an elderberry and a couple fig trees, with support plants. Support plants will be planted by seed; Honey Locust, Texas Redbud, Yellow Wild Indigo, Two-leaved Senna, Illinois Bundleflower, Black-eyed Peas, and Bluebonnets. I'll be trying to follow the recommendations in the PRI DVD "Establishing a Food Forest" making support species approximately 90 percent of the total number of plants, not sure I can cram that many in this small space! This is a small area of about 60 square feet, which was excavated this morning by my husband using our generous neighbor's tractor. I'll fill the excavation with logs and brush covered by soil, leaving holes in which to plant the elderberry and figs (to be purchased from a nursery). The elderberry will be on the far left side near the Cannas, which are growing in our laundry greywater basin. Elderberry will like a little extra moisture from the laundry water. The figs should benefit from extra warmth and temperature stability from the 3000 gallon rain tank, and eventually shade the tank. I plan to irrigate this planting until the trees and shrubs are established, unless we begin getting regular rains and irrigation isn't necessary. I hope to have it completed and planted by late Fall. This is the first of what I plan to be ongoing food forestry in the understory of native Cedar Elms on the east side of the house.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Starting to build the hugelkultur. Buckets in the pile are where holes will be for the figs and elderberry:

 
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i like your idea, and i am curious how it will turn out... also, how do oyu think it will affect the trees health when the trunks get wide enough to hit the sides of the hugelkultur? obviously the wood will be eaten away by then, but some soil may be there and do you think it may cause issues in the health of hte tree to have the trunk eventually buried by its own growth?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I don't think it should be an issue, because by the time the trees are that large, the logs should probably be mostly broken down. Most of the wood is Elm, which rots quickly. I'm thinking the pile will gently settle as the trees grow. I noticed a tree which I had planted out in a field years ago and then surrounded by a pile of brush is still alive when virtually every other tree I planted has died. And that tree only ever got irrigated when it was planted. So I'm hoping the planting a tree in a brush pile thing will work out with this experiment.
 
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Have you done that before? I've built a few smalls HKs by hand and digging a hole amongst the wood has been an issue.

Tyler Ludens wrote:Buckets in the pile are where holes will be for the figs and elderberry:

 
Tyler Ludens
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Those buckets are place-holders for the holes, which will be filled with good quality soil. At least, that is my theory!

 
Tyler Ludens
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I would love some help in improving the over all design of the "homestead" area of the land. I need help designing how the various bits will work together in a total system.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Tyler Ludens
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I feel the animal area is especially not great. The sheep aren't able to get their own food because we're in a drought. Most of our grass died last year so even if it rains we won't have what little pasture we had. The chickens aren't particularly well integrated in a system, the ones doing the best at being integrated are free-ranged during the day and seem to want to get most of their own food. But the laying hens are in a stationary coop and run.

There are a lot of trees in the immediate house area, several of which are dying of Oak Wilt. We're gradually taking these out and I plan to replace them with food forest species. The food forest experiment I'm currently working on is immediately to the right of the rain tank behind the house.

I'm probably going to abandon the Asparagus Garden and Prairie Garden projects for the time being. These are in the old vegetable garden and orchard. It's difficult to get anything to stay alive there in drought. I'm thinking of putting in more buried wood or maybe hugelkultur, but I'm not sure. I'm not sure what I should try to get growing there, as it is so exposed. Trees planted in the ground died without irrigation. There is currently one surviving jujube and some asparagus in there. Next to it is a Honey Locust tree I planted a few years ago, which seems to be doing well so maybe I should put some more of those in.....Just not sure....
 
Tyler Ludens
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I am asking for help in integrating the elements into a cohesive design.

What I am hoping is someone can help me with some specific advice about where each element should be in relation to the other elements in order to be convenient and work together as a whole.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's a new map, please pardon the quality:

 
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ludi, I'm very hesitant about offering design advice in case I stuff it up, but I'm keen to give it a go!
My vision totally sucks and I can't make out much on your latest photos: could you overlay your structures/uses over the google map with the hydro info?
A couple of questions, and apologies if I should know the answers: is there a X measurement on the map =y distance?
I'm assuming top=North?
Can you elaborate on the 'firewood'? Storage? Grown on your place or brought in?
I need to go over your thread to see what you say about irrigation. I know you're in major drought, and I assume you'll need to plan for it to be effectively permanent, probably getting worse, and water's a really big issue?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you, Leila. I'll try to do another map.

Here's a map showing the major movement of water through the site and a scale showing approximately 30 feet. I'm sorry I'm not able to get the image to display larger.

 
Cj Sloane
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I would give it a go to but...
A bigger starting pic would be better, especially if it has a scale.

Also, probably a good idea to make some lists of your elements and their relationships to each other.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The basis of the map is from Google Earth satellite picture. I can not get the image to display larger.



 
Cj Sloane
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Can you repost with larger type? Does the red line (scale) = 30 ft?
 
Cj Sloane
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Is the wettest area where the future water garden is? Is North at the top?
 
Cj Sloane
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How about a list of productive, drought resistant trees that work in your area?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm interested in getting help in arranging the elements of my zones 1 and 2, such as the sheds, animal houses, firewood storage, paths, rain tanks, garden areas, etc in relation to each other so that the entire design works as a whole system. That's what I'm really hoping to get help with here at this point. I can make a list of the trees I plan to plant in the future (many of which I have killed in the past because of not knowing I can't just plant a tree in the dirt and think it will grow) but I don't think that will be helpful at this point. I'm wanting to get some help with looking at the existing elements and seeing if there is a better arrangement of some of them to work better as a total system. The sheds, workshop and animal areas are where they are at this point because that's where they were put years ago. We have the sheep because we wanted to get agricultural land tax status so we could transition to wildlife management status, which we have since done, also because I thought I wanted to make felt, but that hasn't happened yet - maybe next year! The shed labeled "firewood storage" is for wood cut on the land, we heat with a woodstove. The kitchen garden is a relatively new garden out the kitchen door. So far that's being a very successful element.

North is at the top. The red line = approximately 30 feet.

There is no wet area. The future water garden is in an old garden area between the house and the shop where we pass several times a day and it is close to a 2500 rain tank and not too far from faucets on the house. The water garden is planned to have a liner, as our soils do not hold water, it drains very well in spite of being clay (both my experience and what the soil survey says).

 
Cj Sloane
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Can you explain why they aren't working as set up now?

The other way to go is list a few inputs/outputs for each element and see if you can get them to match.
So a list of elements that need water:
Humans
Sheep
Chickens
Aquaponics
Gardens
Dogs

Existing elements that provide water:
2 rain tanks
Grey water
Well

Non existing elements that might provide water:
Rain tanks off every building/shed
Swales
Hugelkultures
Pond
???

And the tricky part:
Each element that needs water should have 2 ways to get water:
So Sheep get water via:
1: (put existing way here)
2: (put backup plan here)

Chickens get water via:
1: (put existing way here)
2: (put backup plan here)

Each element that provides water should deliver to 2 elements:
Rain tank off house goes to:
1: food forest
2: kitchen garden


Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm interested in getting help in arranging the elements of my zones 1 and 2, such as the sheds, animal houses, firewood storage, paths, rain tanks, garden areas, etc in relation to each other so that the entire design works as a whole system. That's what I'm really hoping to get help with here at this point.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Can you explain why they aren't working as set up now?



I feel the elements may not be connected to each other or maybe too far apart for beneficial interactions. I have made rather little progress in setting up a functional system over the past six years or so and it was suggested this was because of poor design (at least that's what I think was said). I feel the sheep and the chickens aren't working in the system very well. The laying hens are in a stationary coop and need store-bought feed. The sheep can't get their own food because it is so dry here there is no grass. We have to buy hay for them. They have eaten any shrub not already eaten by the deer and are eating the trees. Lately I've been cutting tree branches for them every morning which is helping some but which is physically hard for me when I have other things to do in the hotness. I like to think there's a way I can integrate the animals in the system better, if not now, then maybe some time in the future. My husband pointed out to me that by the time I figure out what to do with the sheep they may have died of old age. :) I'm frustrated by my slow progress and worry that without a better system design I may waste another decade before I can produce substantial amounts of food for us and the animals.

Existing elements that provide water:
2 rain tanks
Grey water
Well



A couple of the rain tanks aren't labeled on the map (sorry) There's also a 500 gallon tank on the south side of the shop and a 2500 gallon tank on the east side of the shed.

Non existing elements that might provide water:
Rain tanks off every building/shed
Swales
Hugelkultures
Pond
???



I've wanted a tank in the animal area for a long time but it has never been purchased, so that's a good suggestion I should really implement. :) We've been looking at putting in swales and have a small one to the east of the house (actually it is an earth berm, not a real swale). We might put one in the field to the east of the house. I'm building a hugelkulture in the "rain tank greywater food forest" (see photos above) and the entire kitchen garden is buried wood beds. Ponds don't hold water in our soil. We're planning to have another infiltration basin (pond that doesn't hold water) dug (see discussion of water management structures above, new basin is to the northeast of the animal area, indicated by a purple ring).

Some things have begun to make sense and work as a system. For instance I feel the rain tank/greywater food forest has potential as a system which works. The greywater will help provide extra water to the elderberry and the figs will benefit from the temperature stabilizing of the rain tank and they'll help shade the rain tank when they grow large. Another system which seems to be working is the household food scraps are feeding worm bins which are feeding the aquaponics fish.

I'm hoping to get more suggestions from people about how they would change the design to be more functional. For instance, if swales are suggested where should they be placed in the system? One of the challenges of the site is all the existing native trees. Some of the oaks are dying which will allow more room for water harvesting structures maybe swales or hugelkultur and food forest.
 
Cj Sloane
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Tyler Ludens wrote:For instance, if swales are suggested where should they be placed in the system? One of the challenges of the site is all the existing native trees. Some of the oaks are dying which will allow more room for water harvesting structures maybe swales or hugelkultur and food forest.



I personally like to combine swales with hugekultures.
Here was an attempt:
Wider swale></a>
That swale did a pretty good job at catching water running downhill out of the pig area. Ideally I would plant trees in the HK but it's in a paddock so it's stuck like that for a while.

Can you work a swale into the HK you're building?
 
Cj Sloane
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You sort of want the whole system looked at but you may get some better ideas by looking at 1 element - like in this case water because you are in a drought and know how critical it is. List the current water source and backup for everything in your system that uses water. At the very least, you'll have confirmed that you have some resilience in the current setup.

Cj Verde wrote:
And the tricky part:
Each element that needs water should have 2 ways to get water:
So Sheep get water via:
1: (put existing way here)
2: (put backup plan here)

Chickens get water via:
1: (put existing way here)
2: (put backup plan here)

Each element that provides water should deliver to 2 elements:
Rain tank off house goes to:
1: food forest
2: kitchen garden

 
Cj Sloane
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Just wanted to show how I've been thinking about my setup.

My cows get water from
1. A creek that runs thru the paddock
2. Back up is a hose 250 ft away at the house (husband very unhappy with this option as we are off grid).
3. Back up is from the pond which will be very low if the creek dries up. We need to buy a hand cranked pump.
4. Back up added this year - a 100 gallon tank positioned to catch runoff from the 3 sided shelter in paddock 1. Helpful for quick downpours only.
5. Possible future backup when we get a tractor is a small pond in the paddock itself. There is already a wet area downhill where water overflows from the regular pond.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Cj Verde wrote:You sort of want the whole system looked at



Yeah, I admit I do. That's what I want.

Can I ask you to remove the picture of your project from my projects thread? Thanks.



 
Tyler Ludens
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Cj Verde wrote:
Can you work a swale into the HK you're building?



It's next to a berm (sort of swale) to the east side of the house.
 
Leila Rich
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Thanks for increasing the font size
I have more questions...are the sheep a non-negotiable part of your plan (at least for now)? It seems to me that having them in a drought, with limited water and on-site feed is pretty challenging.
One thing I keep thinking about is that your current and planned systems require a lot of water.
Does all your water come from on-site? Are/will you have enough water to maintain all your systems?
I don't know a thing about aquaponcs, but I imagine the used water would go into the water garden and then irrigate stuff?
You mention an infiltration basin; is this in addition to open water? I have this mental picture of ponds just evaporating in your climate!
I'm having difficulty envisioning the chickens in relation to other parts of the system: I'm used to them being on the way/around the garden so manure can easily go on the compost, eggs get collected and old plants get chucked into the run on the way back from gardening.
To me, it looks like there's quite a bit of walking in one direction, doing X, turning around and walking back. Does that sound along the lines of how you move around?
Maybe you could mark heavily used paths in one colour, less so in another? Getting more of an idea of human flow and movement would be really helpful.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The sheep are pets, unfortunately. Can't be sold or killed except in dire emergency. There is a well and about 8500 gallons of rain storage presently online (another 2500 gallon tank is empty and waiting to be used as a storage tank for the well when we get the PV well pump installed). In flood we get about 39 million gallons of water per hour passing through the land mostly to the northwest and west of the house area. The aquaponics water is kept in the aquaponics system, the only water that's removed is some dipped out to water some potted plants. An infiltration basin is basically a pond without a compacted dam and bottom, really a giant swale which captures the water and soaks it in. There's a photo of one in this thread, we hope to get another one dug in a couple months. There's an old quarry to the east of the house site which fills with water in wet periods but is not permanently full during drought. It is compacted so doesn't work that well as a swale, most of the water probably evaporates rather than soaking in. I'm thinking of trying to fill part of it with brush to make sort of the hugel swale CJ was talking about.

We have a main path between the house and the workshop which continues up to the chickens and sheep area. I'll try to make a map showing the paths. The chickens aren't well integrated into the system, as I said earlier. Personally I'm not sure how to do it because the garden is right next to the house and the chickens are noisy! The one good thing about their present location is the animals can be taken care of easily all being right near the barn where feed is kept. If I move the chickens, I'd want it to be somehow so they can get their own food. I'm not sure how to do it at this point except free ranging some of them. This might have to be a problem that gets solved years down the road when there's more of a productive food forest established around the house area. I recognize that some of these design issues might not be solvable. I just wanted to see if anyone who thought I'm working too hard because of a lack of design or a bad design could help me by telling me how to improve my design.

Oh I should say one good thing about the sheep, that is they make excellent manure for the gardens!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Here's a map approximately showing existing paths in pink and a couple paths I'm contemplating for the future to more directly connect the animal area with the garden area in orange. Those orange paths are probably going to have to wait awhile because that patch of trees is pretty wild presently. Eventually I plan to develop it as a food forest below the canopy of the native Cedar Elms by taking out the existing Cedars (Junipers) and any Oaks that die of oak wilt and replacing them with drought tolerant trees and shrubs like Persimmon, Loquat, etc.



Though making these maps is hard it's good for me to be able to visualize and communicate my plans both to you and to myself!

 
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Location: Madison, AL
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Suggestion that may help you visualize options --

Get some tracing paper and overlay your satellite map with it, then trace the things that can't move. Then make paper outlines models of stuff that can move and try laying them out on your map.

Another idea is to get some big paper and draw a larger blow up version using a grid (remember doing that in elementary school art class?) Once you have your master template you can lay out people & animal pathways, water flows, buildings garden spots and such on it with paper models, colored string, or whatever.

It's like playing with really big paper dolls. I think it's easier to do on the computer since I can keep infinite copies of versions, but you mentioned that didn't work out well for you. Maybe the paper will?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 10268
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
346
cat chicken fiber arts fish forest garden greening the desert trees wood heat
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Thank you. What I am asking for is input from other people about where they think I should move things.

 
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