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Permaculture in Extreme Desert?

 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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It seems like there might already be a thread here on this topic -- someplace.  It came up over at HomesteadingToday, though, and I was thinking about it, and thought it would make a good discussion over here, too.  There's someone at HT who is looking into buying land on the Terlingua Ranch in the Big Bend area of Texas -- I guess less than ten inches of rain a year, and over six months of 90 degrees or more during the daytime.  Don't know about the soil, but water has to come from rain collection or be hauled in.  I'm sure permaculture would be possible there, but how would one go about it, especially on a very small budget?  (Homes in the area need to be cob/adobe.)

I think you'd need as much roof area as possible, preferably metal, for collecting what rain does fall, and probably several large cisterns.  Then do the terraforming necessary to KEEP on your land what rain falls there.  Livestock -- goats, chickens and possibly turkeys? 

I've looked at the land there -- they usually have some parcels on eBay pretty cheap -- but I just don't think we could handle that much heat, and the lack of water scares me a bit.

Kathleen
 
Kirk Hutchison
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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    Swales would be a good start. You could then begin mass plantings of moringa, which could be cut for mulch, improving the soil. Then, in steps, you could add date palms, pomegranates, carob, etc. until you had developed a productive forest garden.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Kirk Hutchison wrote:
    Swales would be a good start. You could then begin mass plantings of moringa, which could be cut for mulch, improving the soil. Then, in steps, you could add date palms, pomegranates, carob, etc. until you had developed a productive forest garden.


Now see, the date palms, pomegranates, and so on, are very appealing to me!    But I wonder how long it takes them to grow to a productive size?  And what about olives, avocodoes, citrus in that area?

Kathleen
 
Kirk Hutchison
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
Now see, the date palms, pomegranates, and so on, are very appealing to me!    But I wonder how long it takes them to grow to a productive size?  And what about olives, avocodoes, citrus in that area?


   Olives are good. Anything that does well in a Mediterranean climate should be able to survive there once some soil has been built up. Avocados would most likely be a late stage addition. For citrus, it depends on what kind of water harvesting system you could get going - how big are the plots, and is there slope? On a 20 acre plot with a slight slope, you could funnel water to the lower 5 acres and have quite a nice forest going, with the rest being more of a savanna.
Also, I forgot to mention figs, which are very important. You could get a few bearing-aged nursery plants and propagate from those, using grafts to start things fruiting faster. After the first wave of plants, you could put in chickens and mulberries. Guinea fowl should also be introduced. Larger livestock would be best kept out (except maybe a few pigs) until the system had matured further. Moringa grows very fast as long as it has lots of warmth, and produces great livestock and human food - chickens and especially goats LOVE it! Also, it actually prefers poor soils.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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So a good sequence of events might be: 

Buy the land

Put up a shelter with a large metal roof, add cisterns to collect rain water (fill the first time with purchased water)

Start building swales for water collection and for collecting mulch

Plant moringa, lots of it

If it was my place, I would at this point be fencing, because I have goats (fencing to keep them out of the planted areas, and to keep free-range cattle out of the planted areas)

Then plant:

date palms
figs
mulberries
pomegranates
(How about pistachios?)
carob
olives
avocados
citrus if there's enough water for it
Grapes??
Pecans??

And add chickens and guineas, possibly a few turkeys of a heritage breed (actually, I already have chickens, too, and would have been moving them around in chicken tractors while things started to establish).

What about herbs and flowers for that climate?  Bamboo?  Persimmons? 

Thanks for your ideas -- I don't know that we'll ever move there, but someone reading this might take up the challenge!

Kathleen

 
tel jetson
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what's the daily temperature fluctuation?  there's been some talk on here recently of rock piles to gather condensation.  planting in pits with rocks in the bottom is an arid climate technique as well.  definitely make use of existing microclimates and create new microclimates to gather moisture.

Kirk Hutchison wrote:
Larger livestock would be best kept out (except maybe a few pigs) until the system had matured further.


I'm not sure I agree with the proscription on large livestock.  intensively managed large animal impact has been shown to be a very effective way to regenerate ecosystems in brittle environments.  what size piece of land are we talking about?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Size of the piece of land -- if I was buying there, a minimum of twenty acres, preferably more.  Personally, I wouldn't want anything bigger than the goats, except maybe a donkey to help around the place.  I've had horses, but am getting too old to mess with them!  The goats could manage on stickery dry brush and browse until something else got going to feed them, one of the big advantages of goats!  But they'd have to be kept out of the new plantings.

Kathleen

 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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I'd consider making up some seed balls with short-season plants like millet, to wait for the occasional heavy rain.

Soil imprinting may be worth looking into, for a micro-scale version of the water concentration scheme Kirk talked about: the soil is pushed into a funnel shape, and the bottom fraction of it benefits from rain that has fallen into the whole funnel. Seeds, manure, and other organic matter also collect in the bottom of the imprint.

More like that in Mollison's desert episode of Global Gardener:

Video
 
Chelle Lewis
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This is my all-time favourite Permaculture video .... Greening the Desert.

The most challenging site imaginable. Dead Sea Valley. If Permaculture can work here it can work anywhere......

Chelle
 
Bill Kearns
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Lot's of good ideas already posted.  If the subject area of Texas is anything like here, you'll be attempting to turn dry grassland into forest land.  I'll add what I've been finding out here.

Observation and local knowledge:  the dryland wheat farmers here plant on an 18-24 month rotation, allowing the fields to lie fallow over at least one winter.  This is to recharge the moisture content of the soil.  They won't plant an area unless the soil (above the caliche and bedrock) is a minimum of four feet deep.  Leaving wheat stubble and/or disking to roughen the soil's surface helps prevent evaporation, but they have no way to apply mulching at the scale of their farming (tens of thousands of acres per farmer).  They also don't disk/plant on contour, so low lying areas stay moister than the rolling hillsides.

The combination of beating sun and wind turns bare soil into dust very quickly, so it is imperative to protect bare soil with mulch and shade.  I've found that small areas of mulch aren't enough (like just around the newly planted trees or around the established orchard trees individually) and so have hugely increased my mulching areas, which involves bringing in all the straw, manure, and chipped trees (and I'm even using stones as mulch) I can find.  This is fuel intensive and the mulch must be fairly thick (not less than four inches) to be effective but the difference is profound and is allowing new tree/shrub plantings to survive with occasional deep watering (gets the roots to go deep). 

The previous owner of my place stated that he'd never found an earthworm here.  He had a garden and the existing orchard, but also had a mowed lawn and no mulch on the garden area.  I've found lots of earthworms in my two years .... albeit all of them in the soil under mulch.  Protecting the soil from evaporation is crucial to establishing the beginnings of succession planting with the ultimate goal of food forest and it's inherent wind break/shade/self mulching properties.

So, capture precipitation (roof areas) for use in the heat of summer.  Protect the moisture you've been able to accumulate in the soil thru Permaculture techniques mentioned in previous posts and by adding as much mulching and ground cover planting as possible.  Establish shade/windbreak shrubs and trees that grow quickly and are drought resistant.  Plant your more permanent shrubs/trees in the protected areas developed by your initial shade/windbreak plantings in a planned succession.  Bottom line is you can leave no bare soil and must obtain materials from offsite for mulch to get the process started.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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"The elevation is around 3700 feet above sea level, which offers warm summers and very mild winters."  (Quote from one of the land ads in eBay.)  The elevation appears to be an average, with quite a bit of local variation.  Average temperatures are in the nineties from May through September. 

As an example, at the moment, there's a 20-acre parcel on eBay which, if paid for immediately with cash, would be about $5,000.  A 40-acre parcel, with cash discount, is $12,000 (the 20 acres appears to be pretty flat and bare; the 40 acres, while flat, seems to have more vegetation on it.  Both are pretty rocky.).  Attaching pictures of the 40 acre parcel, as that seems a bit more promising!

I've watched the videos about the guy in Israel, by the way -- very inspiring.  And I just watched the video Joel recommended from Global Gardener.  Still don't know that *I* would want to tackle one of these pieces of land, but someone ought to!

Kathleen





 
Aljaz Plankl
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So, which seeds and seedlings would be good to bring into this land on the picture above? Are those already mentioned in this thread good choices? And if i'm not interested only in trees... are there any others?
 
Kirk Hutchison
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tel wrote:
I'm not sure I agree with the proscription on large livestock.  intensively managed large animal impact has been shown to be a very effective way to regenerate ecosystems in brittle environments.  what size piece of land are we talking about?

Perhaps, but the intended result is forest, which does not get along so well with large grazing animals. geoff lawton  referred to goats as "giant maggots eating away the flesh of the land". While this is very extreme, he is right about the damage animals can do to young trees. It is mainly about the size of the trees.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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Plankl wrote:
So, which seeds and seedlings would be good to bring into this land on the picture above? Are those already mentioned in this thread good choices? And if i'm not interested only in trees... are there any others?


  After the trees are established, you could bring in many kinds of perennial ground covers, vines, shrubs, etc. The trees are the backbone of the system, and are thus the first concern.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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Note: if any of you guys actually buy this land, I would be happy to help in any way possible: design help, sending small trees, you name it. I'm always up for a challenge!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Kirk Hutchison wrote:
Perhaps, but the intended result is forest, which does not get along so well with large grazing animals. Geoff Lawton  referred to goats as "giant maggots eating away the flesh of the land". While this is very extreme, he is right about the damage animals can do to young trees. It is mainly about the size of the trees.


Definitely -- while I disagree with Geoff Lawton's assessment of goats (the problem is the management, not the goats themselves), if they aren't managed properly, they certainly can do a lot of damage.  Mine are an essential part of our food system, so are a non-negotiable item, but IF I was to get one of these parcels of land, the goats would be kept well away from the planted areas!  Here, I keep them penned, dry-lotted, and bring their feed to them unless I'm taking them out for a walk. 

Kathleen
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Kirk Hutchison wrote:
Note: if any of you guys actually buy this land, I would be happy to help in any way possible: design help, sending small trees, you name it. I'm always up for a challenge!


Anyone who does seriously consider buying land in this area should be aware of the need to budget -- immediately --- for a water collection system.  They'd have to pay for at least one truck-load of water to get started, unless they completed it just prior to the beginning of the rainy season.  Somewhere I came across some video taken by a woman who lives in that area and has been building small structures on her land, IIRC made of cob.  She had about three big fiberglass or plastic water tanks, painted white, which collected water from a large metal roof.  Some of her smaller structures had been built under the roof, which is what I think I would do, were I to move there.  You'd have several advantages from building the roof first -- water collection could begin immediately; you'd have shade for the work and protection from precipitation; and you wouldn't need any very elaborate roof system on the structures built underneath the big metal roof.  It would also leave you with lots of shaded outdoor living areas, which could be very useful. 

Kathleen
 
Ardilla Esch
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It looks like the existing vegetation is dominantly creosote bush with a little four wing salt bush.  It was probably over-grazed and never recovered. Normal for that part of the world.

I would look at planting some wind breaks ASAP.  The hot summer winds are rough and the high spring winds drive people nuts.  I would look into some natives for the initial wind breaks since you would be looking at alkaline soils with non-existant organic matter.  I am thinking a mixture of trees ans shrubs suited for the environment like: mesquite, acacia, cats claw, fern bush, apache plume (N fixer), mountain mahogany (N fixer), desert willow, bird of paradise. There isn't much food to be had in this list but there is help for the beneficial insects.  The up and coming food plants would definitely benefit from a little protection behind the tough natives.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Ardilla wrote:
It looks like the existing vegetation is dominantly creosote bush with a little four wing salt bush.  It was probably over-grazed and never recovered. Normal for that part of the world.

I would look at planting some wind breaks ASAP.  The hot summer winds are rough and the high spring winds drive people nuts.  I would look into some natives for the initial wind breaks since you would be looking at alkaline soils with non-existant organic matter.  I am thinking a mixture of trees ans shrubs suited for the environment like: mesquite, acacia, cats claw, fern bush, apache plume (N fixer), mountain mahogany (N fixer), desert willow, bird of paradise. There isn't much food to be had in this list but there is help for the beneficial insects.  The up and coming food plants would definitely benefit from a little protection behind the tough natives.


Do you think that this land COULD recover, with help?  I have no experience with this area at all, although we do live in semi-desert here (sagebrush desert).

Kathleen
 
Ardilla Esch
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Sure, I think it can recover.  But it sure would be a challenge.

Water is a major issue of course.  The rain comes mainly in the late summer and fall with the "monsoon".  We are talking negligible rain until mid-July then sporadic rain extending into September.  That makes for a very brief growing season unless you have a decent amount of water stored over the winter to get things going in the spring.  Also, there is a lot of variability year to year.  You might get four inches of rain one year and sixteen the next.

Drilling a well could be very expensive.  And good quality water is very hit or miss there.  It is also common to drill and get no water what-so-ever.

So, it is possible, but the land is that cheap for a reason.  Assuming you have reliable water, I would guess that everything would take twice as long to get established compared to places with more water and better soil.  And trees and shrubs would never reach their "normal" size.  If you are completely reliant on rainwater, the drought years could wipe you out.

I would spend a couple days out there in May/June then again in August/September before considering buying land.

P.S.  I very much appreciate the can-do attitude of people on this site, and I generally hold the same outlook.  But I used to live/work in that climate and landscape, and would not consider for a minute trying to homestead in it.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Yes, I figured that the land there was cheap for both that reason, and because it's so far from town -- I like being isolated, but it would be difficult to live out there when gas goes to ten (or twenty or more) dollars per gallon.

Kathleen
 
Bill Kearns
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Thanks for the identifications Ardilla, and for your list of suggested plants.  Somehow mountain mahogany wasn't on my list (till now) 
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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9anda1f wrote:
Thanks for the identifications Ardilla, and for your list of suggested plants.  Somehow mountain mahogany wasn't on my list (till now) 


Yes, I meant to say something about that, too!  Mountain mahogany grows here, up in the mountains -- I would never have thought of it for that area!

Kathleen
 
Ardilla Esch
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I would add that the green you see in the photos is deceiving.  Creosote bush is an evergreen shrub that is extremely tough.  You can have consecutive years of drought and the creosote will be that same color...
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Ardilla wrote:
I would add that the green you see in the photos is deceiving.  Creosote bush is an evergreen shrub that is extremely tough.  You can have consecutive years of drought and the creosote will be that same color...


Can goats eat the vegetation that's there?  Is it good for them?  (Two separate questions!)

Kathleen
 
rose macaskie
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Mulch, water harvesting and desert forage trees and bushes.
  Kathleen Sanders it looks terrible as a place to depend on for your food and a tin roof? I wanted to say something really old lady-ish when i read about your idea of having a tin roof like, “my dear, you will fry”, though if the roof is just held up over another type of roof it would be all right. Have you ever watched the film “Bridge Over The River Quai”, they torture the soldiers by putting them in a tin hut in the sun.
      I would try farming the bit of Texas land in your photo if i was dead rich and so  nothing mattered and I could buy lots of mulch and lots of the right plants and pay people to dig it for me to put in water catching systems. I think that Geoff Lawton had money to green the desert with, it was a charitable project, if someone would pay me for it  would be such fun.
    I might also try it if i was very strong and totally independent with an enormous confidence in myself and my ability to find something else if it did not work.
I like Joel hollings worth would like to try and see what the desert printing machine hat made dents in the sand that  filled with wind blown seed and  droppings and when it rain¡ed water and made the desert green, design  of an amercan engineer, that is shown in bill mollisons video on hot climate strategies . 

    An alternative to tin roofs for water catchment but these used land.
      In India they have pretty water catchment systems that are on the ground. You make a circle of floor, some very big, with the floor inclining slightly towards the centre of the circle and you dig a pit in the centre that you line to make it water proof to hold the water that runs off your floor and you build a pretty doomed roof over the pit and you have a most attractive water collecting area. Get yourself an extra acre for your water catchment.
    Then you would build walls across anything that looked remotely like a gulley, a flattish gulley at the point that water would run out of the gulley, to hold up water in a big rain water event, to make, with any luck, a big puddle so the water would really soak into the ground making an area of water you could use when it was wet and that would be specially good for growing a crop on later on when the water dried. This is another Indian idea it needs quite a long wall.

  ardilla says you could plant mountain mahogany and that is a forage tree. Other desert forage, an  imported one is forage kochia, kochia prostrata that is non invasive unlike its cousin the bad kochia, kochia scoparia and there are several more desert forage bushes i could look up . i have read and one writer on this forum mentioned four winged salt bush is a forage bush same family as kochia and spinach and the indians used to eat its seed like porage and its leaves cooked or raw. Grease wood and winterfat, are other forage plant, some Spanish sheep eat stipa tenassisima, a grass used to make rope soled shoes and i think paper that is a very tough desert grass, esparto grass, that serves to make rope soled sandals.
      Paul Wheaton says it is good to plant buck wheat and cow peas which are dry place crops, you can buy buck wheat seed to cook with in health food shops, cow peas are leguminous and will help the soil.
  ardilla mentions acacias. Real acacias, the desert ones are mimosas in English garden centers and are leguminous plants as are false ones so really good for the soil, there is probably some sort of dry place broom you could grow, which is another leguminous plant that would help you better soils and i think can also be a forage plant, I think i read it was used in that way in the Canary Islands.
The prosopis i mentioned in another forum as a forage tree used in India and the Arabian peninsula is a desert tree is another possibility and as ---says an acacia and i have just read that the prosopis and the tamarisk are phreatophytes, which means they have very long roots up to fifty meters long that reach down to the water table but the problem is how to look after them till their roots get that long, the people in the Thar desert in india don't seem to be worried about growing a next lot of these prosopis trees in their desert.  the propopsis is a forage tree. I new I had read about the tamarisk having roots of up to fifty feet long but thought it was Jesus Charco who said it and could not find it again but it was Roland Ennos. Jesus Charco talks about the tamarisks having salt sweating glands and so being good for salty land and often dry places have salty land. Their branches can become whitie with salt he says . There are a few tamarisks without glands that sweat salt so you hav eto get the right one. Jesus Charco also talks about tamarisks  holding up sand dunes and that means having a large hill of sand at their feet that keeps the subsoil wet, the dune working as a sort of very thick mulch, the one in his photo was much higher than the adult he had standing at the foot of the tree and the top of the dune.  Another technique for a hot place. I have no idea about the tamarisk as forage.
  Ants not worms can be the insects to bury vegetable matter in hot climates so don’t kill them. agri rose macaskie
 
Ardilla Esch
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
Can goats eat the vegetation that's there?  Is it good for them?  (Two separate questions!)

Kathleen


"Creosotebush is worthless as forage for livestock and most wildlife. Jackrabbits occasionally eat the leaves, and many small rodents, birds, and reptiles of the desert use it for food and shelter. Onyx, the European antelope, uses it in Southern New Mexico.

Creosotebush invades desert grasslands, and its habitat has increased over 70 times the size it was in the 1930's. This is attributed to decreased fire, heavy grazing, and periodic drought.

Creosotebush may cause dermatitis in humans and animals. Sheep, especially pregnant ewes, have been reported to die after eating the leaves. "

from: http://extension.usu.edu/range/Woody/creosotebush.htm
 
rose macaskie
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i htought that writing aboutimmigrant  forage kochia from asia would be interesting i mentioned it above but did not say it helped the native plants lost buy overgrazing to reestablish.  so manages dry places, is good fprage, not invasive and helps to get things back to normal.  agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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look just across the way from my gardeen is this bit of land that at some time was lain barren by overgrazing i suppose and now looks like a desert. this is just to say that a lot may be done the aspect of a place may not bean indication of its potential though my piicture is of places with a lot more rain than a desert has.
thuri 208.jpg
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rose macaskie
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and this is what the cistus look like two hundred yards away.
thuri 207.jpg
[Thumbnail for thuri 207.jpg]
 
rose macaskie
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--and this is what the earth looked like when i dug it on saturday in my garden which is next door to the bare hill. I think even last year i coud not have uncovered such a good looking bit of earth whose quality is thanks to blackberriesmaybe and grass. and to me stayin my hand and not cutting an  mowing and such, and i like cutting down blackberries and to the fact that i don't need to egxploit it, exploiting it is not a matter of life and death so i could stay my hand.
      I was digging a small hugglekilture bed and in a hurry so i did not dig right down to see how far down the darker soil went but this seems to me to be a good depth if you can see that it is a small pit the white pinkish stone is at the bottom of the pit. For me trying to grow vegeatbles is a new adventure. agri rose macaskie.
primavera 2010 027.JPG
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rose macaskie
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  When artcles talk about soil they talk about different textures and the big crumb is the good one if i remember right so i took a close o¡up of the earth here because if has this texture.
primavera 2010 023.JPG
[Thumbnail for primavera 2010 023.JPG]
 
rose macaskie
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  I have a photo of the barren  except for cistus bushes slope taken from the garden.
  I think lots of people see the land as desertified when overgrazing has made the soil barren, laid it open to erosion that carries off the topsoil and reducing the vegetation so that there is no organic matter rotting in the soil and producing nitrogen and too few plants for herbivores to stay long on it and manure it.
i can't find the photo i have to scan it later on I think.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Rose, how hot does it get there (and for how long?)?  And how much precipitation do you get?

Thanks to you, and everyone, for the good discussion!  It's been very interesting, and I've learned a lot, which is good even if I never do live in a place like that. 

Kathleen
 
rose macaskie
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it is dry for four mounths more or less it is very close to the mountain peak the Ocejon at a thousand meters above sea level. i have read that ift has 700mm average rain fall a year so much more than the desert in texas texas is more like level with marrocoo and the sahara than spain if i am right not that that says much lots of America seems to be wetter than places at an equivilent latitude in europe, my photos just show how bad treatent of the land change things and i believe they say the texan desert has been overgraze.
    I think that  in the place of your photos it woudl have to be the real desert trees acacias and tamarisks and also it is one thing trees that grew in a desert rooting before overgrazing worsened things and another to get them to root now except that Geoff Lawson did it. He did have microdrip irrigation. He had money and help with earth works if you had to make a living out of it tomorrow with no car to pick up mulch, no one but you to dig swales and build berms and difficulties buying the plants, which after all cost money, then it would be difficult to better conditions there . They say the creosote bush can be s old thousqands of years old so have established before the desert was so dry though it seems they spread nowdays. probably they will restore soils if the place is left alone but slowly a geoff lawto project with plants of the legume family and trees that give shade is just much quicker.
  Over grazed places can be desperately in need of plant nutrients.
  On the other hand hot places salt up easily and chemical fertilisers and manure contain salts so carefull. Maybe that is why plants of the legume family are so important.
  i saw a documentary on the un bettering the sahara near alexadria if i remember right and they were shutting off large stretches of deseert to camels and restricting there entrance in other bits and they had a program of people fertilising the desert.
 
rose macaskie
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      Having a dry season  should not mean a lack of vegetation only a lack during the dry season.
         Most plants reduce body mass in bad seasons, loss of leaves some trees lose their leaves in summer if its to dry.
  loss of all the mass of the plants includign ra shortening aqnd narrowin of roots.except for buds on roots underground swolen roots buds at ground level in grass for instance they may be live buds in the dry laef shat if it is the right sort of grass . look up th esyustem of vital forms Ruanquiaer.
  i htin sometimes people blame bare land on dry seasons the land should go green again at the coming of the rains.
      I post a photo of  my garden in summer. and another of the same in winter two weeks ago . I widened the path taking out some sloes in th eprocess and dug the bank a bit to favour water penetration in the bank, so it would have looked greener last winter. Although you hardley see the dug bits they ahve to reduce the green.
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Joel Hollingsworth
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Ardilla wrote: mesquite, acacia...There isn't much food to be had in this list but there is help for the beneficial insects. 


Mesquite seeds are edible, and apparently the flour is quite tasty. It is part of the difference between a healthy metabolism (in Northern Mexico) and epidemics of severe diabetes (Southwestern US) in certain native populations; I expect it to become a trendy food in the very near future, perhaps enough to be a cash crop. Similarly, I hear there are quite a few edible varieties of wattleseed.
 
rose macaskie
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      I can post lots more photos of barren land especialy next to the next door village. In fact i  have posted them in the forum on soil forming on top of stones rather than being found under them.
        I post a photo of a view down mountain, about twenty kilometres below the village I go to, where you can see that the naked aspect of the hill has nothing to do with rain fall because the next door hill with the same orientation is covered with plants, juniper, jthe juniper called oxycedrus, a good dry country juniper and  a small oak "coscojas" and broom type plant, a gneist, ephedra mayor host.
        I looked up creosote bush and it seems it is associated with degraded landscapes, with overgrazing, so though the Texan landscape is a lot drier than the ones i show, much of it used to have more vegetacion than it now has. It is now covered with subclimax vegetation.
        Climax vegetation is the vegetation of a place when its soil is the best it can have and so its vegetation is the best possible in that place. agri rose macaskie.
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Daniel Zimmermann
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Kathleen, there is a book you need to read: http://www.amazon.com/Gardening-When-Counts-Growing-Mother/dp/086571553X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269545702&sr=1-1

I own this book and cannot recommend it highly enough.

The flat spaces are going to be cheaper, but hilly is better; you'd be able to terrace your crops and use less water.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Thanks -- I just had that book out of the library.  Took it back because I didn't have time to finish it (we are having a lot of company this week), but I'll check it out again shortly when I have more time to read!

Your advice about hilly versus flat land is probably good -- you also get more land surface if you get steep land versus flat land.  (Acres are measured on the flat, without accounting for elevation changes.)

Kathleen
 
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