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Major earthworks starting -- central texas

 
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Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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I would say the majority of the time was spent scraping and sorting with the excavator. Just a couple of inches at a time. That coordination was important. They needed the clay. It had to be placed where it wasn't in the way so they didnt need to move it, then move it, then move it.

That was the only equipment - the excavator. Although i had a skidsteer available. That was used to take the excess topsoil to make the hugel and take the "sand" which was used for a sunscoop. It also moved a lot of woodchips.

I think they are due back over the next few months for another pond at my place. Not sure the exact date yet.  If still on schedule,  in January they will be 15 miles away cutting a switchback road on a cliff edge so the owners have access to a creek on the bottom. It should be amazing. I should be able to get some pics.
 
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Wayne: got any updates on how this is doing? How's your water levels and clarity? How are the crawdads doing in winter?
I'm starting my earthworks (cross your fingers for me!) in spring. Anything I need to know about what you like and dislike, I'd love to hear
:D
 
wayne fajkus
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Right now, fencing is the big issue. I got the terrace cow proof, but not deer proof. I am also putting spent hay/manure out with a spreader. Here is the most recent pic.

I had an issue with my cows. One ended up on the hiway. Not a normal thing as i just separated her from momma and she wanted momma real bad and she found a weakness. So i have to divert and get that resolved.

On the pond, it is dry. Sediment pond still has water. I've been in communication with zach about it. He offered to come back but i said just wait and do it during phase 2. If you look back at the project log, it was very challenging as the pond kept filling as they were trying to build the pond. This prevented them from compacting the bottom. There was much more water than anyone thought. Lol. The rain hasnt been here either. After he left the spigot in the sky turned off. We have got small events like .10". Nothing that would cause surface runoff to fill it or get the seepage flowing again. That should come in May.

But back to the terrace. This is my focus. I planted the big support trees (pecan). If i can get this fence done i can get a lot of planting done. Herbs, annuals, perrenials, vines. Its a game changer in my view. The basis for a great food production system.
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wayne fajkus
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On crawdads, i think the racoons got them. It was wierd. There were tracks all the way around the pond after i put the crawdads in. In hindsite, my guess is i stocked them way to early. Before vegetation got established. In doing so, they had to leave the water to eat, and the racoons got them. This is just speculation. In my original pond, i caught some crawdads in a minnow trap so they are in there. I don't think that is the case with these new ponds. There is not a lot of info about them. Eating habits, etc. I am just guessing.
 
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Good data- thanks. I’m envious of your skid steer mine sucks.

Reminds me of the quote from Ferris Bueller-
Cameron- but my car is a piece of $h!t
Ferris- at least you have a piece of $h!t...
 
Pearl Sutton
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Good data- thanks. I’m envious of your skid steer mine sucks.

Reminds me of the quote from Ferris Bueller-
Cameron- but my car is a piece of $h!t
Ferris- at least you have a piece of $h!t...


Yup. I want a skid steer. I expect if I get one, it will be cheap enough that it's a piece of $h!t. I can handle that.
Mail me yours when you upgrade :D
 
wayne fajkus
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I will say that in a permie setting with permie goals, a skidsteer trumps a tractor in my view. It pays for itself overtime when you have projects like this. 70 post holes for the terrace fence would be about $800 hired out. This is not deep soil. 4" thick rocks scattered in there. My tractor would not and could not drill through them, much less do it in a straight line. I think zachs crew used their excavator to dig out the tractor mounted post hole digger that snapped off in the ground years ago.

There may be better diggers or better lifters or better this or that, but who's gonna buy multiple pieces of machinery? The skidsteer kind of does it all reasonably. Digging, brush removal, forklift, trenching, hauling, lifting, etc.

It does tear up the ground. The price jump for tracks was pretty extreme.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Mine would be fine with over tire tracks and pneumatic tires but I have neither. That’s a $3k outlay on an 8k machine. I’ve been looking for used for over a year and they are irrational- wanting 80% of the price for a track that’s about spent.

Maybe someday
 
wayne fajkus
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Today i am mulching but added seed mix into the mulch/manure for a second coat. Things are looking good. The mulch from the original seeding is dissappearing.

Using sheep bedding and horse manure.
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wayne fajkus
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We made an arbor tee to test it. Its 2ft up and 6ft across. It is 2-7/8" pipe which slips over the 2-3/8" pipe posts. It is a little too short, risking me hitting my head on it. But we can lift it up 4" before we weld it on. Another option is to make it 2ft 6" up and 5ft 6" across so it rests on the cross bars. Either option is fine. We are using 8ft posts for the entire tee. We will not have any scraps left, which is good.
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wayne fajkus
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We have all the pipe cut into 2ft and 6ft pieces. Should be notching and welding them into the arbor tees this weekend.

At some point we have to get this whole boxed fence section deer proof. We are only working one long side. The other long side (above terrace) is still just fence posts in the ground.

I have been planting and throwing seed on the terrace. Blackberries, asparagus, onion, misc herbs, peach, pear, um. The leftover seeds from starting plants indoors are being thrown out on the terrace.
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wayne fajkus
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Made good progress today. Each tee will be slid up 8" and welded on.
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wayne fajkus
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I recently found out there was a big mushroom farm in Texas. I took a 14ft and a 10ft dump trailer over there and got some mushroom compost. 11 cubic yards total for $117.00.

I plan to spread it on the "flat" area, then do my one tilling to get it in the ground.

I ordered kiwi plants and roses with big hips. Both should be going on the arbor.
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wayne fajkus
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I am spreading the mushroom compost. Pic 1 shows the steam coming off of it. Good stuff.

Pic 2 shows cedar posts layed down across the bottom of the fence. Because the arbor is on the downhill side,  i am concerned about erosion. This should catch it and build up soil vs losing it. On the other end of arbor i have been laying down rocks. The combo should add diversity.
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Fence is looking good, Wayne!  Very jealous of the mushroom compost ~ could make use of about 20 18 wheelers full of that stuff.
 
wayne fajkus
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Artie,  i have bought very little compost over the years but this is by far superior to any i have seen. You could sift it through an 1/8" screen and it would all sift through.  I thought it was gonna be spent substrate though. The stuff leftover after the mushrooms were grown, and that it would have mycelium in it. It turns out that it is mixed with chicken manure and is hot composted. The smell is pretty potent. It seems " hot" and they warned to top dress or till it in. Do not use it by itself or it would burn the plants.

I was spreading it with a manure spreader with not much of a layer forming, so i switched to dumping and spreading with the the tractor. I got a good line along the arbor. I also dropped some on the slope. I made just one tiller pass thats 5 or 6ft wide but the sun was going down and could not get a good picture.
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wayne fajkus
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I did the "one time till". Just one width pass along arbor fence. Not sure how clear the pics are, but we also welded one length of the "clothesline" onto the arbor. It is 1/2" square tubing.
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wayne fajkus
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I planted 6 kiwi today along with 2 grapes i planted a week ago. I'm not gonna get overzealous with them. I can hold 30 to 36 plants total. I think i will limit it to 12 total this year to see how they go. The kiwi is one type, the grapes will be multiple types, choosing within what i can find that Texas A and M recommends

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Will you include any decorative flowering vines just for fun (and pollinators)?
 
Tj Jefferson
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That is a lot of work Wayne. Looks good.

You might be able to do chayote down there too. There’s a great thread on here about the ones in Louisiana and how to get the ones that produce at low altitudes. That’s a perennial squash which is pretty badass.

I also do some scarlet runners on my climbing area and they seem to do fine with some competition.

How is that whole system anchored? Are the concrete or deep driven?
 
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Chayote does well up in Massachusetts too, so I am sure it will grow in Texas.
 
Tj Jefferson
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S Bengi wrote:Chayote does well up in Massachusetts too, so I am sure it will grow in Texas.



That’s fascinating. I was told they would be marginal here. Where do you get the squash to plant?
 
wayne fajkus
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Wow. I am in on chayote. The whole plant is edible, roots to fruit. Thanks for bringing it up.

The posts are set in concrete. We are working on the high side fence this weekend. We are going 7ft high with no arbor. High side will not have the benefit of the terrace watering that area so will have to think about what to plant there. Its is rocky limestone.  Mustang grape, native persimmons, lavendar, honeysuckle are some ideas.
 
wayne fajkus
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Will you include any decorative flowering vines just for fun (and pollinators)?



I am not limiting myself on anything. The upper high side fence is being lined with lavender since that will be the drier side above the terrace. I've bought "pollinator" packs (seeds, bulbs, and roots) from.the stores and mixed them in everywhere.

Honeysuckle or other vine may go on the high side fence if i can get it established. That fenceline is very rocky. Very little topsoil. I imagine lavendar and mustang grapes being the best plants there. But i will try others for sure. The slope above the terrace, i can see native persimmons doing well there.

 
wayne fajkus
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I got the last of the fence poles set. I hope to be "deer proof" within 2 weeks.

While i had the auger bit on, i drilled 24 holes along the flat area. Worm holes. It's something i always wanted to do. Dig holes, fill them in with kitchen scraps. I will also add mushroom substrate from the oyster mushrooms i grew in coffee grounds. Maybe i will get a natural harvest out of these holes. Either way, these will be super organic spots that should concentrate worms in the area.
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wayne fajkus
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High side of the fence. It's approx 7ft tall. The buckets are used to cover my lavendar on freeze nights.
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Tj Jefferson
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Wayne surprisingly to me, lavender has done fine here with no protection. I did start them in peat pots last spring but they got no help over the winter and it looks like 75% lived. Rosemary would be fine I think and other Mediterranean herbs. We have only a manufactured area for them, and it is the only place sage and rosemary have been happy, I’ve killed the rest it seems.

I think jujube would also be a hit along with figs outside the “green zone”. Deer aren’t very interested. And pomegranates don’t get bothered. Pretty easy to propagate al of those (jujube from suckers).
 
Tj Jefferson
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Btw nice dump trailer! I’ve been so happy with mine I use it a lot for spreading and moving material. It’s great trade bait too! Mine is half the size of that one and pretty beat but it’s sooo handy.
 
wayne fajkus
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The lavendar i planted in november suffered some freeze damage. I think it is good once established, didnt want to take a chance. Lavendar does very good in our alkaline low moisture soil and deer do not eat it.

Jujube, wow, its been an incredible tree for this ares. While other trees suffer in the heat of summer, the jujube looks great without a single spot or flaw on the leaves. No production yet but it is a beautiful tree.

Rosemary, in my small zone 1 garden, grew very big. So big i pulled it because of the limited space. I have 2 or 3 planted in this new area along with just about every herb i can get my hands on.


Today i started digging up goji berries. Looks like they sucker sprout. I think i will have a dozen reestablished in the terrace. Not bad from one 2 year old planting. What was impressive is that they produced a lot of berries the first season (bought as 1 gallon pot).
 
wayne fajkus
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Zach Weiss' crew is nearby right now. They are sculpting a trail down to a river and making hugels from the down trees. I am doing a little trade with the owner. I am sending over daylillies, multiplying onions, iris, and probably some goji berry. Ben is gonna pull up some native persimmons for me. That would be a good tree above the water flowing terrace. It is sloped, tocky, and alkaline just like they like it.
 
wayne fajkus
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Other than putting the lines across the top of arbor, the fence is DONE!

1 long, 1 short side is arbored. 1 long  1 short is tall fence.

I picked up the persimmon trees from Zachs crew. Very nice. Biggest one is 6 or 7 ft tall. I got them planted.
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wayne fajkus
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Woke up to a full pond AND a rainbow
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wayne fajkus
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Things have greened up nicely. The cover crop is knee high in some spots. My guess is a couple more inches of rain should get the spring/seep flowing. That should clear up the water in the pond.
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Tj Jefferson
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That’s looking great. A couple years of roots and that soil will start performing.

Can you graft Japanese persimmon on your native persimmon rootstock? Deer don’t bother the trees. They sure bother the fruit! You might consider it they are delicious!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Tj Jefferson wrote:

Can you graft Japanese persimmon on your native persimmon rootstock? Deer don’t bother the trees. They sure bother the fruit! You might consider it they are delicious!



I have tried it, so far no success.  Their dormancy periods may be too different.  Still, might be worth a few more tries.
 
wayne fajkus
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I have 2 japanese persimmons . Not producing yet. Now that i see what our native looks like, there is no visual similarity between the 2.

The native looks like a crepe myrtle and has small leaves like a boxwood hedge. The japanese looks like a tree and has much bigger leaves with a different shape.

I am looking forward to seeing what i can do with the native fruit. Until mine produce, i should be able to harvest from where these came from.
 
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This made my day. I had maybe 1" of mushroom compost laid down. I added maybe 3 -4" of non mushroom compost over that. It rained and fully saturated the ground. Mushrooms ARE coming up from the mushroom compost. I feared the composting temps killed the spores, but yet i saw sparing signs of white in it. I wasn't sure.
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Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 1340
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
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Wayne those might be blewits. I didn’t pay any attention to the stuff growing in the chips until this week and we ate delicious blewits last night. Just make a spore print from that one since it looks old and be ready for action the next time.

 
wayne fajkus
gardener
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Location: Central Texas zone 8a
726
cattle chicken bee sheep
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This is a sideview of the terrace slope. Amazing spring growth.

Chop and drop should be coming soon. Or maybe put a couple sheep in there for the day? I am still deciding.  

My third bee hive should be set up in the next 2 weeks. I will probably put it in this fenced off terrace.

Everything is budding out and/or blooming. The ground is moist. The whole terrace system just blows my mind.
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wayne fajkus
gardener
Posts: 3057
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
726
cattle chicken bee sheep
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Monarch butterflies are here. I am also seeing a lot of ladybugs.
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