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A permaculture design in a small Russian land plot.

 
pioneer
Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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    I recently made a design for a Russian family who are friends of mine. They live on the north side of a hill, and the ground is usually quite soggy in the spring, summer, and autumn. Wind comes from the west, and this map is oriented with north as up-left. Thoughts?
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pollinator
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Hi Myron,

I liked your post because you gave us cool drawings to view in case  we can offer you suggestions here.  If none of the experts pipe up, then I'll nudge them.  It would be really cool if you actually post pics here of your project if you get to implement the design!
 
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Hi Myron, there's an excellent permaculture youtuber with the channel Edible Acres.  He has a north facing site with very wet soil.  You could likely get a bunch of ideas from his videos.  The things that come to mind are to give the water a place to flow (small waterways and ponds) and to create raised beds for plants that need to be up and dry.  
 
Myron Platte
pioneer
Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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Mike Haasl wrote:Hi Myron, there's an excellent permaculture youtuber with the channel Edible Acres.  He has a north facing site with very wet soil.  You could likely get a bunch of ideas from his videos.  The things that come to mind are to give the water a place to flow (small waterways and ponds) and to create raised beds for plants that need to be up and dry.  


    Raised beds are included in this design. Soil from the paths goes on the garden beds.
    The swale at the bottom will have a spillway that I’m hoping will run fairly regularly once rehydration is completed.
    A few of the swales are terraced at a two percent grade.
    Depending on how much water comes down from the upper slope, the bottom left corner, which is already soggy, might be chinampa-type developments instead of the swales I show here.
    Thanks for the input, it’s very helpful!
 
Myron Platte
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Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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Orin Raichart wrote:Hi Myron,

I liked your post because you gave us cool drawings to view in case  we can offer you suggestions here.  If none of the experts pipe up, then I'll nudge them.  It would be really cool if you actually post pics here of your project if you get to implement the design!


    Drawing it on paper really helps me think it through properly. I will get photos!
    One oddity about this project is that we have no money to afford an earthmover, so we are going to attempt building a dam by hand. It’s going to be a big challenge, but I know how to make a dam, and I think we can do it. To get proper compaction we’ll probably use a bunch of people jumping on a board on top of the layers of clay as we build it up, the way the Chinese built the wall.
 
Myron Platte
pioneer
Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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Anyone have a clue what to plant next to the pond for duck forage?
 
Myron Platte
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Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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Also, companions for rose bushes? Would they be the same as other rose plants?
 
Myron Platte
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Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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New design. Many changes. I made the pond bigger and moved it to the middle of the garden, so that it will give a much better heat sync effect and have more potential energy. I put the chicken run around the uphill side of the house, the tiny greenhouse will be on the uphill side of the house, and doubles as a winter chicken house. The water that comes off the house will carry nutrient from the chicken run to the garden, through a silt trap. The overflow from the pond goes through a patch of rose bushes in a guild with parsley and probably a couple other things. The ducks for the pond will probably be Muscovies, because they debug gardens really well. The water that flows out of the garden goes to a silt trap, then through a series of larger connected rings with water-loving plants on them. Beside this “terraced water garden” as I call it, there are flowering and berry bushes, downhill of it, in the overflow stream, are cranberry and viburnum, and below that, a last little water collection spot with a willow guild. Every extra nook and cranny will be filled with as many flowers as humanly possible, to be beautiful and to attract insects for the birds to eat. I stuck blueberries in sunny spots. Every graph square is three meters across.
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Myron Platte
pioneer
Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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Before I forget, I would like to thank Edible Acres YouTube channel for inspiring the chicken run design, Mike Haasl, for his suggestions about water management and for recommending Edible Acres, and my brother, who saw the ideal spot for a willow tree that I overlooked.
 
pollinator
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Having pines shades the land, and prevents it from heating up in spring. How is the pH of the soil, is the acidification from the pine needles intended?
Have you thought about mulberries?
 
Myron Platte
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Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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hans muster wrote:Having pines shades the land, and prevents it from heating up in spring. How is the pH of the soil, is the acidification from the pine needles intended?
Have you thought about mulberries?


    The acidification is intended. pH is slightly on the acidic side currently, judging from plants currently there, but the soil will also get alkalinized by proper aeration and drainage. The main purpose of the pines is a windbreak. A small variety of pine and/or occasional harvest is probably in order. I have not considered mulberries. If this was my land, pines probably wouldn’t be my choice of windbreak, but the owner loves pines and specifically asked for them.
 
gardener
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You forgot zones?
Also, I would avoid straight lines. Nature doesn't make things straight ;) she likes them round, or at least curved.
 
Myron Platte
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Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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Flora Eerschay wrote:You forgot zones?
Also, I would avoid straight lines. Nature doesn't make things straight ;) she likes them round, or at least curved.


    I didn’t draw in the zones, but I’m taking them into account. For instance, the chicken house is right outside the front door. The garden beds are laid out on contour, you just can’t see it because this property is so narrow. The tree line is straight because it follows the fence and the road, and because it follows the access pathway to the birch grove.
 
Myron Platte
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Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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    Alright, I've got another idea for the micro-scale design of this property. Y'all know about worm farms, right? What if I install a primarily rain-watered worm farm right below the silt trap that gets catchment from the roof and chicken run? I think it could be dug into the ground, held up on the downhill side by a wall formed by the soil pulled from the basin, maybe with a pipe for worm juice drainage. I know the worms won't be sealed in, but in my mind that's a feature, because they can burrow during the winter to avoid a die-off, and there's no danger that they'll run away from their food supply. The plan is that the whole garden will get the liquid fertilizer automatically, by virtue of the water flow, and the worm castings will be as convenient to spread as possible. the manure supply would be from the chicken house uphill, the manure will have to age in piles for a while first. there is a reliable source of kitchen scraps, so that's covered. Another (I think) advantage to this system is that earthworms eat compost worm's castings, so even more processing is done before the castings get to the garden. Any problems that you foresee?
 
Myron Platte
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    Is this garden bed layout overly complicated? The only two incompatible plants here are carrots and dill, so I put the carrots in the back as single harvest veggies that don’t need regular visits, and the dill in front, as it’s a Russian staple. Questions, Comments?
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Myron Platte
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Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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   The snow’s melting, and it’s go time! I made these thirty-some vampire-killers during the winter because survey flags are not easy to find here. Surveying beings today! I’m going with three of my brothers who desperately want to help.
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Myron Platte
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Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
62
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    We got two swales surveyed in the three hours of sunlight we had left.
It was too dark for photos by the time We finished the second one, but here are pics of the second. This one is actually at a 2% grade down to point where we put three stakes, and then 2% grade up.
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Myron Platte wrote:Anyone have a clue what to plant next to the pond for duck forage?


Ducks do well in rice systems. In the shallows of your pond you could plant wild or native verities of rice. BTW i like your art work.
 
Myron Platte
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Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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    Right after that last post everything froze again, and we had to wait a few weeks for things to warm up again. I used that time to get seeds and think the design through a few more times. Now work is beginning in earnest. We had a pleasant surprise when we started digging the first swale. A drainage pipe that I didn’t even know about came down from around the house. It was installed a while ago to drain the runoff from the roof. All I saw was water coming to the surface at one place, and that a swale to direct the water to some useful purpose would be warranted. And the source of the water happened to be this drain pipe. Pics:
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Myron Platte
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Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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So, it’s been a year of observation and very little implementation. Which is good, because it taught me a lot about the owners’ needs and wishes. (It is really hard to get them to tell me what they want. I have to observe their behavior and figure out from that what will mess them up and what won’t, and how I can improve things that they already do.) I’ve made a lot of headway. For instance, there’s a rather big patch of lawn that they use for a traditional folk dance on children’s birthdays. I was unaware of this, and had already suggested that this become a beauty/pollinator attraction spot, (who knows, one of the children might become a florist, too) and there were no objections, but I came over for someone’s birthday, and almost everyone, including the guests, danced on that spot. So. Data points: that space needs to be free for dancing; yarrow grows there really well already;
Dad mows using a weed whacker;
Yarrow is a high value medicinal;
Russians actually use medicinal plants.
Synthesis: make that area a yarrow lawn, have Dad switch his weed whacker for a scythe, citing health benefits the value of yarrow, and enjoyability, and give the family a cottage industry of making yarrow salve and tea out of the cuttings from the lawn. The run a shop in which they can sell such a salve.

A peculiarity of the area this family lives in is that there are no snakes or lizards. Whatsoever. This is a phenomenon unique to this region. Even if you bring in reptiles, they die. The only explanation I have heard anyone give is that Saint Sergius of Radonezh banished all reptiles from a large area, a circle around Radonezh. An effect of this is that there are a lot of slugs. Ducks, therefore, will be necessary.

Potatoes are something this family plants every year. But they usually don’t do very well, except for one patch that has comfrey growing as a weed in it. So I transplanted comfrey to the patch that doesn’t do well, and suggested that they give that one a break while they make a new one where they dump food scraps, which place also happens to have a comfrey patch right next to it.

I cut the lower branches off the birches to let more light in, and planted peach, apple and pear seeds in the grove along with comfrey and burdock and lupine and caragana and yarrow and too much to remember.

I made an experimental buckwheat/oats patch, which was not harvested, (another misunderstanding) but can easily become a mixed flower and veggie garden, as well as a chicken forage base.

I planted Jerusalem Artichokes at the bottom. For chickens and people, and organic matter for chicken bedding in winter.

They planted an apple tree in a place that I had specifically advised against planting trees, because they would block the absolutely stunning view in that direction. So I made the best of it, and put companion plants under the tree. Maybe they can prune it, or something.

I did some tiny earthworks, including finishing the water garden/infiltration system, which works like a charm.
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Myron Platte
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Posts: 452
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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If you watch the video which I am about to post, then look at the diagram, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. The lines and arrows mostly express flows and energy transfers. Both the drawing and the video are of a plot of land across the road from the other one. My friends own this one, too.
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Myron Platte
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Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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There is no beard big enough to make me comfortable enough with my masculinity to wear pink. Tiny ad:
Our perennial nursery has sprouted!
https://permies.com/t/174246
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