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Turn back mountain into Permaculture Forest  RSS feed

 
Kenny Garcia
Posts: 85
Location: Southern California
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Hi everyone,

So i live in southern california and im getting into permaculture and sustainability. I have this mountain behind my house that i eventually want to turn into a food forest. Any ideas on how to get started?

Here are some pictures.
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tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3379
Location: woodland, washington
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olive trees. grapes. elaeagnaceae. not in an arid place myself, so I'm not a lot of help.
 
David Miller
Posts: 286
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Miniature/Pocket Swales with biomatter lugged up to provide on contour breaks. Also recommended, many many hours on Landslide prevention.
 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 117
Location: Hamilton, MT
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bee chicken forest garden
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I think the first thing to do would be to hold as much natural rainfall on the slope as possible. Yes it is arid, but you do get rain... though it might be 2-10" annually. Mini swales on contour are the beginning, in conjunction with placing organic matter(spoiled wet hay, grass clippings, leaves from this coming fall, cardboard & packing paper, etc) in swales to promote soil amendment and water retention when rain does fall. Start with planting local plant community species (visit your state's nursery site or DNRC), dry climate grasses with nitrogen fixing qualities and then bridging off of that. You need some vertical canopy plantings to promote more shade and future water retention. Heavy mulch application in the fall on swales installed will go a long way. I am doing something very similar on a mountain prop i own in mt, which is arid montane with 13" of rainfall annually. good luck.
 
James Colbert
Posts: 271
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With what appears to be a pretty aggressive slop I think Vetiver grass would be of huge benefit. Swales of course. Terraces would be awesome as well but with that slope make sure to do your research to make sure its feasible and safe.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 9518
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
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bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
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Terraces would be perfect. And it looks like just the place for strawberry trees, too.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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whoa planting on that they'll have to revise the saying "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" ! You'd have to almost put your collection of harvest features along the bottom fence and just let all the produce fall to the bottom !!

I really have no idea of what would properly be planted as food on such a steep area without such things as terraces..maybe mountain goats?
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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One thing I do is start with a pocket and then move out from that. To use as an example, a desert slowly encroaches on land, you want to reverse that. Create a oasis to start, and then slowly move out from there. One, it will be a lot easier if you let nature help, but she moves slowly. Number two, you are going to learn what works, what doesn't before you start doing too much.

We use Acacia Mangium in soils that are steep and not so fertile. Not sure it is appropriate for you, but it fixes nitrogen, will grow in just about anything, likes acidic soils and has an incredible amount of leaf mass that drops year round. You should be able to find something simlar.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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you may find information in gaia's garden by Toby Hemenway helpful..esp the section where they planted in the desert
 
Kenny Garcia
Posts: 85
Location: Southern California
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awesome!

thank you everyone for your replies and suggestions.
 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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I would first plant a combination of ground covers and some pioneer trees: vetiver grass, lupins (dry tolerant ones)
The important is to prevent erosion, with strong root systems and enrich the soil.

Plenty of cow peas, lentils, and dry tolerant beans.
Trees: honey locust, acacias, chilean mesquites... all desert trees and fixing nitrogen

Because yours is a warm climate and dry, I think you could try okra, some eggplant varieties and bottle and snake gourds.
I have never tried bitter gourds but they are a desert plant. Moringa is a perennial tree from dry locations.
Sedum is also a nice ground cover that is dry tolerant. Try opuntia ficus indica cactus.

More Mediterranean species: thyme, rosemary, lemongrass; carob, date palms (like they do in Morroco).
With some swales, maybe chestnuts,figs, pomegranates (I love them, they come from dry climates too), and defintively olive trees. Maybe avocado and almond, near swales. Maybe nice temperate climate pioneers like elaeagnus but I think they might need some shelter from intense dry and heat.
Cereals: sorghum, amaranth, some types of millet. Even corn near swales.
And I would explore root crops but so far I do not know well which ones thrive under drier conditions, potatoes do tolerant some drought. Maybe other Andean tubers.. maybe also yams.

I would plant near swales less dry tolerant species.
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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This landscape surrounds me:
http://www.dragodid.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Takala-Bakarac.jpg

That was the way people ages ago turned arid places into growing area. They grew here grapes and olives, but also figs and other arid plants. They did it without fertilizers, watering...

Now it is abandoned, and ready for natural forest to pop up. Same place, but without that terraces, still looks like your photos.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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That photograph in the original post looks to me like a lot of rock, and scarce soil.

Since the retaining wall curves, I assume that it does not follow your property line, but rather follows the geology to keep rocks from tumbling into of your yard. How far behind the wall does your property go?

I would seriously consider back-filling the area beyond the wall with rich organic soil (or hugelkultur) on a slight uphill slope (to gain more square footage, and soil depth). Personally, I would probably go beyond my property line, as the owner of that property is unlikely to do anything with a barren, rocky slope. Any rocks that tumble down through the years could be reset further back to form the basis of your next terrace.

With careful planning, that area could become the envy of the neighborhood; a Mediterranean Eden in SoCal.

 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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It´s a beautiful area, and it looks like there is plenty of water in there.

We have drier landscape in Portugal, and grapes can grow wild or cultivated in terraces like this, without never being watered.
Olive and figs trees also stand very drought. Carob is another interesting crop tree. Almonds, cherries also do well in Mediterranean climates.


Milan Broz wrote:This landscape surrounds me:
http://www.dragodid.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Takala-Bakarac.jpg

That was the way people ages ago turned arid places into growing area. They grew here grapes and olives, but also figs and other arid plants. They did it without fertilizers, watering...

Now it is abandoned, and ready for natural forest to pop up. Same place, but without that terraces, still looks like your photos.
 
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