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paul wheaton site visit in San Marcos, California

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 20517
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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from http://www.dirtypermies.com/blog/

I haven't watched it yet. I'm trying to get ready for my presentation in phoenix/tempe.

 
Rick Larson
Posts: 210
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
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I few observations:

1. I like that guy's hat.
2. Suck's to live in a desert, but being an arborist is advantageous..
3. You are right about humans condensing choices down to two.
4. Diversity is right on.
5. Minimalizing the use of machines. This is hard to do.
6. Montana is very far away.
7. You seem to have a lot of patience.

Otherwise, the video was interesting and held my attention, so good job.
 
hannah ransom
Posts: 81
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I live in San Diego.

quick google search gives me Missoula MT at 17 point something average rainfall, san diego at 10 point something.... definitely not more rain here. Also, MT has snow.

Paul Wheaton, you're awesome, but San Diego is a completely different ballgame than MT. You absolutely 100% need to have rainwater catchment. I was cringing when you were speaking against it in favor of non-labor intensive water catches. You get all of your rain in the winter, which we can grow things at that time because it is mild here, but in the summer when it is blazing 90-100 something degree days and the soil would have a hard time staying wet in the first place we have NOTHING. This year everything was dried up in late April where I live. Water input is needed no matter how much hugeling, swaling, and mulching you do. I have made hugel beds as the berms of my swales that have dried right up.

Is zero irrigation/rainwater catchment a possibility? Sure, but expect low yields, less intensive spacing of plants (you will need a lot more land to do anything), etc.
 
Pamela Melcher
Posts: 299
Location: Portland, Oregon Maritime, temperate, zone 7-8.
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The vid does not appear when I click on the link. There is a large white area where I would expect the video to be, with no video.

It may be my gizmo - when I try to play a Youtube video, the screen is all black with nowhere to click to play.

Frustrifying.

I am open to suggestions.

Pamela Melcher
 
Pamela Melcher
Posts: 299
Location: Portland, Oregon Maritime, temperate, zone 7-8.
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The vid about lightbulbs plays.....

Pamela again
 
Lisa Allen
Posts: 223
Location: San Diego, CA USA
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Pamela, your settings on your computer may not allow it - here is a link, perhaps it will open in a different tab or window to watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=n-TD6E_brkc

I live in Western MT now and have for almost 9 years (and have family here my whole life). I was raised in San Diego. While I didn't practice permaculture, I do know there are some differences, a couple of which were not mentioned (as far as I could tell - not completely done with video, so bear with me).

Yes, everyone knows the growing season is short in Montana - so people make adjustments to that, i.e. starting seeds indoors and transplanting outside in May or June when warm enough. But you can water during the day with no problems, and in fact it is virtually impossible to overwater because the soil here, while it is good, has SO much drainage. The mulch you place on top of the plants (and maybe mixed in with some of the topsoil) helps hold the water a bit longer or you would have to water every day. Paul Wheaton's hugelkultur application here is a larger and more long-term version of that.

In San Diego, it is best to water at night, so your plants do not turn brown (especially in summer). For the gardens, we noticed irrigation tunnels were better than sprinkler because the soil, having a bit more clay, actually holds the water. I remembered using sprinklers on the lawn and puddles would form where the areas were low - where I would never have a puddle here in Montana.

It is completely true - these two areas are quite different. I guess the trick is to work with what you have the most you can so that you don't work as hard. That goes for both places. But knowing what you are dealing with is the way to begin to figure that out. I think hugelkultur can work in San Diego - but it would likely need to be differently done to fit the needs of the area, and if you cannot avoid having some water collected, you could perhaps use less, which would still save labor and even water (and containment devices for water).
 
John Finnell
Posts: 8
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I live in the area, but up in Temecula, so it's drier than down there in San Marcos.

My Dad transplanted in a bunch of drought tolerant and "native" plants about a year and half ago. (Now I know about loosing the taproot by doing this, thanks to Paul)

He put a homogenous 2 inch thick layer of wood chips, and I it SUCKS! The plants are really not very happy this Summer, weed suppression is great, but at what cost? Some annual plants definitely poped-up through the mulch, and are very happy in Spring time. Thinking back everything looked pretty good in Spring, much cooler with rains.

There used to be a lawn for about 25 years, he killed it with Round-Up I wasn't a part of this plan. It amazes me how most people think these poisons are no big deal and "safe" to use.

The plants not doing so well, could be the round-up, could be the Summer heat, and not having a taproot. But I also think a big part is the compaction of the soil, and the wood chip mulch. The chips definitely created a matte, like Paul is saying in this video. It doesn't allow the soil to breathe at all. The water also doesn't want to drain properly, and the small amount of water in the Winter can not penetrate the chip layer!

Now in the Summer we are getting this problem where the plant is either too wet when watered from irrigation, and staying that way for too long, or it's way too dry. I think my Dad is over watering cause he doesn't understand the plant's natural water needs.

I went to the talk last night and what Paul is saying about planting a diverse amount of seeds and making texture in the landscape is a great idea for here. I planted a bunch of random seeds in between our little back yard orchard, and a lot of flowers and plants popped up throughout Spring and Summer. I did irrigated in the beginning because I was late in the season and being impatient.

What I've learned: have more patience, make texture in the landscape for microclimate, broadly seed out diverse plants in the Fall, for Winter rains. And use rough texture chunky messy mulch, not a chipper. Makes so much sense to me for this climate.

Thanks Paul!
 
Pamela Melcher
Posts: 299
Location: Portland, Oregon Maritime, temperate, zone 7-8.
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Thank you, Lisa. I got the latest upgrade of adobe flash player and the vid plays now.

VIery interesting. It is great to see pictures of what folks are doing.

Pamela Melcher
 
Rick Larson
Posts: 210
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
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John Finnell wrote:I live in the area, but up in Temecula, so it's drier than down there in San Marcos.

My Dad transplanted in a bunch of drought tolerant and "native" plants about a year and half ago. (Now I know about loosing the taproot by doing this, thanks to Paul)

He put a homogenous 2 inch thick layer of wood chips, and I it SUCKS! The plants are really not very happy this Summer, weed suppression is great, but at what cost? Some annual plants definitely poped-up through the mulch, and are very happy in Spring time. Thinking back everything looked pretty good in Spring, much cooler with rains.

There used to be a lawn for about 25 years, he killed it with Round-Up I wasn't a part of this plan. It amazes me how most people think these poisons are no big deal and "safe" to use.

The plants not doing so well, could be the round-up, could be the Summer heat, and not having a taproot. But I also think a big part is the compaction of the soil, and the wood chip mulch. The chips definitely created a matte, like Paul is saying in this video. It doesn't allow the soil to breathe at all. The water also doesn't want to drain properly, and the small amount of water in the Winter can not penetrate the chip layer!

Now in the Summer we are getting this problem where the plant is either too wet when watered from irrigation, and staying that way for too long, or it's way too dry. I think my Dad is over watering cause he doesn't understand the plant's natural water needs.

I went to the talk last night and what Paul is saying about planting a diverse amount of seeds and making texture in the landscape is a great idea for here. I planted a bunch of random seeds in between our little back yard orchard, and a lot of flowers and plants popped up throughout Spring and Summer. I did irrigated in the beginning because I was late in the season and being impatient.

What I've learned: have more patience, make texture in the landscape for microclimate, broadly seed out diverse plants in the Fall, for Winter rains. And use rough texture chunky messy mulch, not a chipper. Makes so much sense to me for this climate.

Thanks Paul!


I have a ten year old wood chip and spruce needle pile and the chips have compacted at the top. Where it meets the ground it is composting nicely, but this is Wisconsin. As an aside, there are grasses growing on the chips including crab, and I chunked out some of it and turn it upside down under the apple trees to protect the roots from drying out in this abnormally dry summer. I have apples!
 
Teresa Del
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I appreciated this video, thanks.

I'm in the planning stages, new to this home. The back is all overgrown and I'm single, so I'm intimidated to get out there with a machete and a chainsaw and a shovel. Kind of feels like a Herculean task. I want to make sure when I design my hugelkultur bed that I maximize my efforts, since it's so much work. All of this information is helpful. I have the right sort of big pile of trees and limbs, and we get lots of rain here in NC. So hopefully I'll be able to design something that will be worth all that labor.

Thanks again for the inspiration and information
Teresa
 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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hannah ransom wrote:I live in San Diego.

quick google search gives me Missoula MT at 17 point something average rainfall, san diego at 10 point something.... definitely not more rain here. Also, MT has snow.

Paul Wheaton, you're awesome, but San Diego is a completely different ballgame than MT. You absolutely 100% need to have rainwater catchment. I was cringing when you were speaking against it in favor of non-labor intensive water catches. You get all of your rain in the winter, which we can grow things at that time because it is mild here, but in the summer when it is blazing 90-100 something degree days and the soil would have a hard time staying wet in the first place we have NOTHING. This year everything was dried up in late April where I live. Water input is needed no matter how much hugeling, swaling, and mulching you do. I have made hugel beds as the berms of my swales that have dried right up.

Is zero irrigation/rainwater catchment a possibility? Sure, but expect low yields, less intensive spacing of plants (you will need a lot more land to do anything), etc.


Hi Hannah,


Around 100 years ago virtually the entire area you are speaking of was being farmed by a technique called dry farming, specifically pioneered for areas with similar climatic conditions; generally those which receive less than 10 inches of water a year as well as receiving virtually all of that water in a very short period. The area began switching from dry farming when the cost of drilled wells and pumping water came down. Entire books have been dedicated to dry farming over the years but to sum it all up a dry farmer would have infiltrated as much water as possible into the soil and then done everything possible to keep it there for as long as possible, including certain types of soil cultivation, crop rotation and fallowing.

At around 10 inches of rain a year you are looking at the very definition of desert conditions. The only sensible form of rainwater catchment under these conditions is underground/sealed storage and this generally only for precious drinking water. Also the only sensible form of farming under these conditions is some form of dry farming. Dry farming with proper technique and varieties for the locale does not often result in lower yields by the way. Also well established dry farms did not often have catastrophic failures in a drought year like other farms often experience. You really should not be growing anything except under specific micro-climates that require the ground to stay wet or moist at the surface under these conditions in the dead of summer anyway. If you account for the cost of all the loss and actually price water as the precious resource it is it never works out. You might have noticed many of the very large corporate type farms in your area have switched from actually farming to building rainwater catchments and selling the water at a much better profit. Throw in the crop insurance game and government subsidies and the rainwater catchment business done properly is actually quite a lucrative business model compared to actual farming.

Large above ground rainwater catchments under the conditions your are discussing loses much more water to evaporation than if it had simply been left to soak into the ground even more so if dry farming techniques have already been applied. Also large above ground rainwater catchments/diversions further increase the problematic conditions both locally and abroad; by diverting the precious little water to storage you also break the cycle of infiltration that was recharging the ground water as well as adding to anything down stream.We are now depleting ground water at a faster rate than natural infiltration can keep up with in virtually every part of America. Not to mention in a true drought year of near zero rain fall you cannot store enough water ever to get through two years if necessary. Finally the high cost of building large storage/diversions and all the necessary components for getting this water where needed must be offset by growing higher value crops often not suited to the conditions and requiring greater and greater inputs and of course more and more water. On the other hand dry farming under these conditions can be done with a single tractor(could be animals also) and a handful of implements and few other inputs.

It is often better and usually cheaper to work with what you have than to use technology to force the issue. I mean we could raise tuna in the desert, we have the technical ability, the resources and the knowledge to do so but really should we? It is something we all need to be thinking about more:
"Just because we can does not mean we should."

Jeff
 
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