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Hello from San Antonio, TX

Posts: 5
Location: near San Antonio, TX
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Glad to finally join this great forum!

I have almost 5 acres in the country. We're not in any city limits. The land is actually laid out very well, too, so as far as isolation, view, etc. you'd have to own 15-20 acres to get the same deal. All the land behind our property is open farmland where farmers grow hay or graze cattle. On either side of our property, there are either unused wild plots or large multi-acre backyards that seldom see any activity. We have a lot of wilderness bordering our land, so I hope to use that to my advantage as I get into permaculture.

One neighbor has a huge pond that he dug. It holds water, but he has another pond about 5X as large that isn't finished. I'm hoping he'll finish it

My land is a clean slate. Just a bunch of open land that used to be farmland. Very heavy clay soil, no nutrients, and we get a ton of wind and sun.

So far I planted about 2 dozen fruit trees, but they either died or are just creeping along. No fruit yet, and we've been here for 6 years. I tried mexican plums, plums, apricot, peaches, apples, pears, oranges, lemons, limes and an olive tree. I also tried blueberry bushes in containers. I've had mixed success.

Looking forward to Holzer-izing at least a bunch of my land; maybe I can get my trees to take off, with the right care and companion planting.
Posts: 4665
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Matthew, welcome to permies!

Lots of info here at the forum, for you to get started with permaculture. Dig in !

So do you have any wind breaks?

Any organic materials you can use, wood, compost etc?

Is the ground bare or covered?

What types of weeds do you see growing?
Matthew Bauer
Posts: 5
Location: near San Antonio, TX
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No, no trees or wind breaks. I see that as one of my biggest challenges going forward. That, and dealing with the "feast or famine" water situation here.

I actually cut down a couple dozen young mesquite trees (more like bushes) because I wanted the space for fruit trees, I wanted things simpler for mowing and/or "clean", I didn't like the thorns, and I was inexperienced in the ways of permaculture.

I cut down those mesquite trees in 2008 when I first moved here. I also planted a bunch of fruit trees the same year. Many are still alive (but not thriving) while others have died.

I do have one LARGE mesquite tree on my property, a much younger one by the front entrance to my property, and several either in the wild/ditch area, or right outside my property line. Recently, I decided to have it both ways by encouraging mesquite trees on the property line (where the trunk is located the neighbors' property), but trimming any branches that hung over on my side of the property line. That way I'd have shade, windblock, etc. but wouldn't have to give up even an inch of space on my side.

As far as organic material, I actually have a hedge all along the north side of the property. There's a dropoff/ditch running right along the fenceline, and that area is "wild". Lots of thorny bushes and a few young mesquite trees. I might cut those and use for hugelkultur or Holzer raised beds. He said to use entire thorn bushes for that. Though he also suggested other uses for thorn bushes (safe haven for birds, nesting for birds). I also have some dried reed/bamboo like things -- some kind of weed that grows in the wet seasons. They grow as much as 8 or 10 feet tall, and sometimes two inches in diameter (but hollow in the center). I'll probably collect those from the wild areas and use them for mulch, paths, etc.

The ground is mostly native grass right now. Very exposed, especially during time of drought (which is at least once a year here, it seems lately). I need to get better ground cover. I'm interested in getting some pioneer plants/ground cover.

We do have a pretty good gradation/variety of elevation. Mostly flat, but the land is "rolling" so it's not like Illinois or Iowa. I think there's a 3 meter difference between the highest point and the lowest point. Great for permaculture!

Weeds? I can't identify most of them. We have lots of mesquite seedlings that grow ridiculously fast when they feel like it. As in, they go from totally non-existent above ground to 24" tall in about 2 weeks. That happened last October and I think they shoot up in May as well. They have a lot of thorns and they make it difficult to mow with a riding mower -- though Sepp has me re-thinking my mowing habits, especially how it dries out the land. On the other hand, I have to do something about chiggers, which we have here.

I was thinking of taking some pictures to try to identify the native flora here.

Let's just say I'm very much still learning, and trying to figure out the best solution for me.
Posts: 1390
Location: Northwest Montana from Zone 3a to 4b (multiple properties)
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Welcome to permies, Matthew. A blank slate and where to start, always the question. Plenty of good ideas here and folks with lots of experience and willing to help with good ideas and all that kind of good stuff.
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