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Brian H's Permie Patch Projects!  RSS feed

 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Salutations to all. I'm Brian H. I'm 28, living in Coupeville, WA which is a dry Zone 8B. Coupeville is in a rain shadow and only averages only 8 inches of rain per year, comparable to a cooler Arizona. We rent 1 acre of 1/3 grass yard, 1/3 Blackberries, and 1/3 mixed Snowberries/Nooka Rose with a few ancient fruit trees (2 different types of apple , 3 different types of plum, and 1 poisonous Horse Chestnut) scattered about.

I've done some loose studying of Permaculture, but I am new to the functional side, as well as new to Permies.com. I have learned SO much in my last few weeks of reading/lurking.

I have 2 small areas of my (rented) land that I hope to turn into permaculture garden areas.

One is under the shade of one of the plum trees is my first patch (15'x20' or 4.5mx6m). Hopefully, we will grow native berries, edible ferns, and some other things. So far I have ripped up the invasive blackberries from the patch. I then used my chipper/shredder to make a several inch thick mixed mulch layer of wood (rose, apple, plum, fir, and alder), leaves/needles (previous + various ornimental shrubs, garden wastes, and green blackberry shoots), and dried blackberry cane. I've also mixed in a bit of compost, with plenty of red wriggler worms. I plan on innoculating the mulch layer with some alder firewood logs seeded with Oyster Mushrooms for both soil building and potential sale/barter (I hate mushrooms myself).

The other patch is currently about 6'x10' (2x3m) and full sun, but we don't know what we want there yet. This area was recovered from a patch of mixed Nootka Rose and Snowberries. It appears that much of this area has been re-reclaimed by the roses/snowberries/blackberries since Spring. It is nearer to the low-spot of the area and likely to be quite moist for most of the year.

My native soil in both areas sucks. It is a whitish clay (a friend put it as "One can practically pick up a handful of 'dirt' from anywhere around here and 'throw' a ceramic pot on the spot.") For the fall and winter, I plan to have Daikon radishes breaking up the clay and fava beans/clovers fixing nitrogen/adding biological material to the soil.

Also, both (well, really all 3) pictures below were taken while facing due East (unintentional), thus South and the main sun would come from the "right" side of these pictures.
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Shady Patch
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Sunny Patch
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chunk of raw clay (wet)
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Using Google Maps' Satellite view and MSPaint, I have made a marked-up map of our property. The total property outline is 1 acre, but as yous can see, we don't have access to most of it.

Also, I have decided to go with a Hugel bed(s) for the sunny area patch. I have access to a privately owned clear-cut previously wooded area and think that I'll try to grab a few rotting logs from there.
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Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
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So some things which occur to me dealing with those species of plants and soil conditions:

Bees - honey bees love blackberries. It's one of their main food sources during prime season. Blackberries also make for great pie, wine, et cetera.
Rabbit - Rabbit naturally will hole up in thickets and have fair protection from predators
Quail and Grouse - Also like brambly thickets and eat things like nootka rose and snowberry

I would consider leaving much of all of those species.

Also If i wanted to make clearings and paths I'd slash and burn out the paths trying to keep the fires cool (with wet hemlock bows) to generate as much bio char as possible to dig into your clearings (you can shovel and rake the coals over your paths to burn out and 'cook' the pesky roots of blackberries et al.

Cation exchange is not my specialty but I would encourage you to do some reading on the cation exchange of clay soils.

Each of the three species in 'unclaimed' area has a long history of use for food and medicine. Congrats.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_nutkana
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphoricarpos
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubus_laciniatus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubus_armeniacus
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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North/northeast of me is some sort of historically protected "homesteading tracts" (nobody can develop it) and is effectively overrun orchards. That area is almost entirely snowberries and rose.

South/southeast of me is the blackberries which offer a good buffer/privacy fence to the neighbors up the hill from us.

To the East where the species converge is a deer glen where our wandering deer like to hang out and we let them have their peace. Our most productive plum tree (medium sized red ones) is back in there but the deer don't hang around much durring that time of the year.

We will probably recover more area from the blackberries in the southeast corner of the property where it wouldn't interfere with the "fencing" factor. I might also make some discrete paths into the homesteading tract to the north and get at the old fruit trees back in there.
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Here's what I wrote out for my off-topic post over at driveonwood.com for the great non-permie folks there:

"Are you oogling my Hugeling? One of my side projects is a couple of small PermaCulture patches on our rented property. One of the schools of thought among PermaCulturists is called "HugelKulture", which is building piled layered beds that mimic the layers of a forest floor. The bottom is rotting logs, next medium branches, next leaves, and finally straight compost with some compost mixed into the other layers to help break things down.

Today, I got some rotting logs, mostly Alder (a nitrogen fixer, fairly quick breakdown) and Maple, with some Fir mixed in and layed out my base layer. As you can see, I used my chainsaw to notch out one end of all the base layer logs and tie them together with a nested cross-log. I seeded the logs with Oyster Mushroom spawn to digest the cellulose, topped them with a bit of dry grass clippings, some compost juices, and then some Spruce branches that fell night before last.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to layer in some dried blackberry canes and other smaller branches from around the property.

I wish I had easy/legal access to some green/fresh Alder leaves for my leaf layer, as they are also very good for nitrogen fixing into the soil.

More later."
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Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6146
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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It looks very lush for an area that gets only 8 inches of rain. Is it in a gulch or is it irrigated ?

What are you building in those last photos? I didn't know we could post photos without text ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Later that day --- I Googled it. It says your average precipitation is 21.4 inches. This seems more plausible.
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I'd say 21 inches is far more accurate... The 8 inch number is from the Olympic National Parks Info Center since the Olympics are what causes our rain shadow. We are along the base of a gulch though.

Oops... I forgot to come back and add text... My phone can't type words on these forums for some reason so when I upload pictures I just type a single period to have *something* in the text field. I'll go back and edit it... Editted with some text I had posted off-site for non-Permie folks.
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Well, that is fantastic... I was talking with my girlfriend today about leaves and she made a comment along the lines of "I honestly doubt we'll even be living here by the time your beds are ready to grow things in." Basically, our Landlord's dad wants to move back up to this property soonish, she hasn't renewed our lease, and the insurance people don't want to cover anything that looks "rural" (IE my "trashy" '95 Chevy work pickup truck, which I use at least weekly; a wood pile between some trees several feet from the house; a workbench out in the yard, which I was using that day; and the steel barrel in the yard, that I was actively working on that day.) Currently, if our landlord gets a hair up her ass, at any point she can give us a "GTFO in 20 days or less" notice.

Long story, short: I'm not going to bother putting any effort into any improvements that aren't critical or that I can't easily take with me. Pretty much everything Permie related is in that catagory. :/
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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So my therapist wants me to work on my self-defeatist additude, which this bed project falls under. Basically, he said "Well you might get kicked out 21 days from now or you might get to live there happily for 10+ years. I'd plan to make the most of your situation however it may fall. I don't suggest spending a lot of money on it, but build it for cheap in case your future is friendly. Worst case scenario, you spend a while doing wood working and gardening which you like to do anyways. Best case scenario, you have an awesome learning experience and productive garden!"

So the bottom layer is the previously pictured log raft made of roughly 6" diameter logs, which have been inoculated with Oyster Mushroom spawn. Layer 2 is a thin layer of soggy brown grass clippings and a thin layer of green Fir needles. Layer 3 is a grid of large sticks roughly 2-3" diameter. Layer 4 is a bunch of fresh green plants that were our Summer/Autumn crop from the garden: Pumpkin/Melon vines, Tomato plants, Green Bean vines, Brussel Sprouts stalks, etc.. Layer 5 is twigs; mostly Apple, Alder, and Maple. Layer 6 is more soggy brown grass clippings and brown leaves (Hawthorne, Maple, Alder, etc.). Layer 7 is yellow fallen fruit leaves (apple and plum). Layer 8 is to come, I hope tomorrow, which is a hefty layer of compost.

I'm doing my own version of another person here, which is hemmed in on the sides with pallets and growing out of the gaps. I don't yet have a link to that project.
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Sides up and ready to hold compost.
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End view. There is more of a gap than it looks like.
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Back side showing some layering.
 
What could go wrong in a swell place like "The Evil Eye"? Or with this tiny ad?
paul's latest kickstarter
https://permies.com/t/65247/permaculture-design/permaculture-design-alternative-technology-live
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