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Stones, can you do Permaculture without stones?  RSS feed

 
Paulo Silva
Posts: 30
Location: Country: Portugal. City: Tomar
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I always been one stone collector even before learning about Permaculture, after seeing Seep Holzer farm my interest about collecting stones increased.

My land had few and small stones but now there are some big stones, mainly near and inside my small lake, their mission is to keep it from freezing in the cold days and maybe catch a little water from the air on foggy days, they are also a good home for many critters

What about you, can you do Permaculture without stones or not? are you also crazy about stones like me? please share your thoughts about stones.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I have moved literally tons of stones on our place. I use them for path edging, low berms and other structures for erosion control, terrace on the downhill side of the kitchen garden, and habitat for snakes, lizards, frogs and toads. I also hope to eventually make a stone masonry building but I don't know if I'll get that far down my list of "things to do."

Media Luna erosion control structure:



http://www.drylandsolutions.com/dryland.php?i=4
 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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I'd be crazier about rocks if I had fewer of them. I'm pretty sure I have more rock than dirt. Not nice big useful rocks either, but gravel to softball sized and all soft limestone.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Mine is all limestone too, and it's a pain. We excavated a lot of rocks and gravel from the kitchen garden and replaced with buried wood beds. A huge pain and a lot of work but seems to be worth it because things aren't dying now! Lately I've been sifting the rocks from the excavated soil....Lots o' rocks to go....
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3381
Location: woodland, washington
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flood plain. not a stone on the entire place that wasn't carted in from some place else. no clay, either. nothing but fine sand and silt for twenty feet or more.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Here's a curly one: does sand count as stones? If so, I've got millions of them
 
Paulo Silva
Posts: 30
Location: Country: Portugal. City: Tomar
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Leila Rich wrote:Here's a curly one: does sand count as stones? If so, I've got millions of them


Good one but it doesn't count has stones
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5908
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
365
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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We have stones, rocks, boulders and sand..We live in Stone County (that should have been our first clue when we moved here). Our soil is gravely most everywhere...we haul out wheelbarrow loads from the garden areas and use it on the driveway. Larger rocks keep the armidillos from rooting up plants...my husband busts up sandstone for the driveway holes...we use stones for rock edges...steps...paths...leveling things...kids toys...during the housing boom everyone was selling semi truck loads of building stone (this is a very poor county) I am used to having a rock within reach for squishing a tick...I would love it if some were limestone so I could grow lavender easily.
...and our well and cistern both lined with laid up stone by homesteaders early twentieth century.
 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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If I tried to remove all the rocks from my garden I wouldn't have anything left. I just roll with it. The plants don't seem to mind.

I was breaking ground for a garden extension with a borrowed tiller yesterday. Rocks won; tiller tines and engine are okay but the body is mangled a bit. *sigh* It's gonna cost me more to fix it that it would have to buy one, I just know it.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5908
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
365
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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Nicole Castle wrote:I'd be crazier about rocks if I had fewer of them. I'm pretty sure I have more rock than dirt. Not nice big useful rocks either, but gravel to softball sized and all soft limestone.


I am curious about limestone rocks/gravel in the garden..does it raise PH? Are you able to grow lavender? The most beautiful plants I've seen were in an area with a lot of limestone boulders. And goldenseal? Our friend near a river with limestone has an understory of goldenseal where we,with more acidic soil, have poison ivy.
We have never used a tiller..just shovels, prybar, sometimes a pick and potato fork...lots of bent tines...then when most rocks are out a broadfork to avoid compaction. I have found if I mulch a new area heavily for awhile it is easier to harvest rocks...the soil is a little looser.
Gardening with rocks adds a whole other dimension to the process, doesn't it?
 
Paulo Silva
Posts: 30
Location: Country: Portugal. City: Tomar
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I got lucky one day and found this stone, one science teacher of mine said it was a rose quartz, been searching for more without luck
IMAG0827.jpg
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Rose quartz
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5908
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
365
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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That is beautiful (even in black and white on my kindle). Was it that smooth when you found it? One of my favorite memories growing up was breaking open geodes to find crystal formations inside.
 
Paulo Silva
Posts: 30
Location: Country: Portugal. City: Tomar
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Judith Browning wrote:That is beautiful (even in black and white on my kindle). Was it that smooth when you found it? One of my favorite memories growing up was breaking open geodes to find crystal formations inside.


Yes it was just like that when I found it, sadly all the other rocks aren't quartz, it's the best rock on my small collection
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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i also have very little rock on our property, however, when I'm able I grab a few to bring home..

use them to their best advantage when you do find some..otherwise don't worry about it
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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I use stones for micro-siting -- esp. on the south edge of hugelculture beds.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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How large does a stone construction need to be, and how constructed, to moderate winter temperatures? I'm thinking of some kind of sun trap thingy on the north end of a small pond, and would love to be able to keep the winter low above freezing in that locale for growing some citrus and/or possibly a hardy avocado. Our winter temps get down to around 15 F. The area is backed to the north by a shed and a 2500 gallon rain tank. Any ideas would be appreciated.

 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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I'm skeptical of the claim that one can create a microsite that will keep temps 17°f higher than the average ambient temp.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
180
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If it's possible, I would like to know how to do it!

 
Paulo Silva
Posts: 30
Location: Country: Portugal. City: Tomar
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Tyler Ludens wrote:How large does a stone construction need to be, and how constructed, to moderate winter temperatures? I'm thinking of some kind of sun trap thingy on the north end of a small pond, and would love to be able to keep the winter low above freezing in that locale for growing some citrus and/or possibly a hardy avocado. Our winter temps get down to around 15 F. The area is backed to the north by a shed and a 2500 gallon rain tank. Any ideas would be appreciated.


I'm doing something like that, testing it the next months, have no idea if it will work, just make sure the sun hits the rocks and the cold wind doesn't, also be sure that it doesn't become a cold air trap also, cold air should flow easily above the lake water, cold air was something I learned in Paul Wheaton podcast, he's right about it flowing in the landscape and giving trouble whenever it gets trapped (usually in low lands).

Trees also help but don't put them near the water because their roots will damage your pond and their leaves will fill it up and make it smell very bad.

Rocks just make it less could during the hours with lowest temperatures thus not freezing the water, if it's a small pond I would also cover when temperatures get very low, maybe let the sun hit it during the day and cover it during the night.

Last year my pond was smaller and had maybe half the number of rocks on a similar configuration, it frozen just a little on the winter, one or two hours after the sun rised all the ice was gone
621049_4550089909781_836904668_o.jpg
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My lake north wall, sun trap and home for frogs and lizards
418430_4548704755153_1705568902_n.jpg
[Thumbnail for 418430_4548704755153_1705568902_n.jpg]
Frog inside his home
 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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Judith Browning wrote:I am curious about limestone rocks/gravel in the garden..does it raise PH? Are you able to grow lavender? The most beautiful plants I've seen were in an area with a lot of limestone boulders. And goldenseal? Our friend near a river with limestone has an understory of goldenseal where we,with more acidic soil, have poison ivy.
We have never used a tiller..just shovels, prybar, sometimes a pick and potato fork...lots of bent tines...then when most rocks are out a broadfork to avoid compaction. I have found if I mulch a new area heavily for awhile it is easier to harvest rocks...the soil is a little looser.
Gardening with rocks adds a whole other dimension to the process, doesn't it?


My soil is very acidic, so I don't think the limestone rocks raise the pH in any measurable way. I can and do grow Provence lavender. I'm told most other forms of lavender are unreliable here. Poison ivy I have in plenitude, but I am fortunately not allergic.

I only till the first time to break up the soil. In this case, I used the tiller to loosen 12" down so that I could sink that end of my raised beds -- they are half raised, half buried so I get some flat spots to grow on. For the landscape areas (herbs, shrubs and so forth), I just top mulch with semi-finished leaf compost and the worms do most of the work. It's amazing how much a few inches of mulch will improve the soil over the winter.
 
James Colbert
Posts: 272
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I have imagined that a terrace with sloped walls of broad spectrum stone would encourage a mineral rich runoff which would be soaked into the terrace bellow. This combined with nitrogen fixers could provide completely for the nutrient requirements of the plants growing on the terrace. This could be a stable system capable of lasting 100s if not 1000s of years.
 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Stones are defintively an element of permaculture, just like water. Where does soil come from? Stones. Where do nutrients come from? Stones.

Stones alter the "microclimate" of the soil, allowing diufferent conditions for different plants. Do not set a single type of soil, because that would be a single habitat for plants. Biodiversity needs a variety of habitats and stones are another one. Some plants do enjoy growing next to stones. Stones also serve a variety of other purposes, to build edges, hills, dams, warming spots, shelter for wildlife, etc...
 
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