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Gardening/permaculture methods in wetter locations  RSS feed

 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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This came up in another subject so am doing the right thing and gave it it's own subject.

One of my projects got sped up due to large trade for sunchokes (50 lbs.) Here in the SW water can be an issue and needed to take advantage of the higher water table at the bottom of the driveway and use what still comes down the driveway until can finish the work above it.

This project is being broken into two phases. One is a keyhole design near the barn and goat pen that will take some of the runoff from the driveway and keep it from flooding the dry lot for the goats. This one will be finishing today and planted. Have picture posted of the work nearly done to excavate the location.  Excavation was necessary due to the tightness of the soil. Have leaves, confetti shredded paper and oat hay on standby for mixing in. Sunchokes don't care for nitrogen, so manure wasn't an option on this one.

The interior of the keyhole will be planted with various crops, some perennial, others annual. I have to take into consideration the terrace and corn/squash patch near by so need to pay attention possible cross pollination on some things.

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Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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that is one beautiful piece of work..
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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Nice!
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Thank you,
      Need to finish it up tomorrow. Planted a few bunches of onions this morning and there was more than I thought! ) A good thing. Onions and cabbage are part of the 2nd phase. That will take me a bit longer, this isn't soil you run heavy equipment across as it packs it.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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update the photos as spring and summer go along i'd love to see how it works out...here we have most of our water graded toward our pond, but i used to have a similar garden at my house before housefire..and it worked really well..
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Will do Brenda,
    Grabbing a quick snack and heading back out. It's absolutely beautiful outside right now, even with the chem trails.
 
rose macaskie
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      I dont know about key hole designs so what about telling me please, i think bill mollison does something like that in the kalahari garden he makes in his dry climate videos.
like the foto it is atmospheric and sort of like a good film not to sheshe i have not a clue how thats spelt. As i am a girl i get everything all sheshed up. You have some mulched beds in the photo to.
  i have wondered how to collect the water coming down the road at the other side of my house. If i put a ridge crossing the road at a sligh tangle that directed the water off into a tank i could maybe keep the water, i know it annoys my neigh bor it floods his garden however if i actually stored it it maight gett him wanting it too. His hte last house in the row. The road stops at his house. agri rose macaskie.
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Hi Rose,
   
Please, we women can do what the menfolk often won't. I'm 5'6 and weigh 165 lbs. Last I looked had all the right equipment. A functioning brain, hands that can easily milk a goat, and arms well tanned from working outside most winter, legs and feet that carry me through a hard day. You do what do you have to, no matter your gender or size or ability.
   
Onto the keyhole. This is not quite Bill Mollison would do, but the location kind of indicated the design. This is very dry country(12 inches annual) and the sunchokes, being a member of the sunflower family like a bit of moisture. They will also work well as a wind break for the crops grown inside. The location is very close to the bit of run off from the barn the terraces(mulched beds) don't catch at this time and the point where when we do get precipitation overflows and floods the dry lot and the path I use to feed outdoors.  It may prove to be to much moisture for them, so was sure to plant some in another higher/dryer location.
     
The idea behind a keyhole design is to maximize growing area and reduce the space needed for paths. It also takes into account multiple functions, such as wind break, and the better growing conditions inside the keyhole as a result. It helps create a micro-climate that can be taken advantage of.

Check out toby hemenway's 2nd edition of "Gaia's Garden", he has some good info on keyhole design. Brad Lancaster's Rain harvesting for "rylands and Beyond" is also another great book on water harvesting.
      In another day or so I'll post the planting plan for the keyhole shown.
    There are other keyhole beds near the dug out one, they grew corn and squash last year. Beans don't do well in these beds as they are what comes out of the dry lot, lots of nitrogen.
    Brad Lancaster talks about storing water in your soil. A lot of what is done here involves a lot of mulching and earth/rock works. The whole point is to use earthworks; berms, swales,  one rock dams, etc to harvest the water by slowing it down and giving it a chance to soak in.  Those mulches also act like a big sponge for now, until I can get the soil improved enough to sustain more plants.
    Hard surfaces like a driveway/road can be taken advantage of if you  watch what the water does when it rains and do your homework. My driveway needs to be raised and bermed so can harvest the moisture off it more efficiently. Again, Brad's book is a great reference book on the subject.
    Rose, why don't you post a picture or drawing of your situation.  It may also be a good topic on it's own! )
 
rose macaskie
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      I've been digging sort of swales, terraces that wil maybe end up as swales in my bit of ravine. I am dithering between Darren Dougherties ideas for swales that drain out towards the most prominent bit of a slope and up towards the the folds in the hills which  normallly get wetter and i am drawing it and have photoed a place that was a good example of how the sides of hills undulate. The other example of swales is geof lawtons that are straight or rather level that dont run down or up but hold the water still except in an overflow, level berms.
  I have much more rainfall than youu do, any acheivment you get will be so much more of an acheivement because you have so little water ,you are in extreme desert, i am not.  Ii can just do better than the farmed land near by because that has been so badly treated they get plenty of rain fall but htey have done for their earth in lots of places. i was inspired to show what you could do to show things could be better there but what i can do it is not a good example to a place with twelve inches a year, that is a real challenge.
      I think now i am remembering better that bill mollison did the opposite, a bank where you have a ditch and a hole in the middle that i think he put some organic material in the middle all the details of what he did are nto very clear. I just remember the main shape. rose.
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Hi Rose,
    It's ok. One thing I've learned that it my dry climate it just takes longer to turn things around. The other part of that is being prepared for the occasional oh my gosh rain/snow we can get.  It may not happen for 20 years and then in one day we get half of what is normal in a year. Much of what I have done already will hold that kind of rain.

The 12 inches annually is fairly recent. This once was a valley you could raise dryland crops successfully year in and out. In the last 100 years we have lost at least 8inches of our annual precipitation. This isn't just climate change, it's poor land management overall.

I've dug enough post holes/ditches to know there was a healthy forest here within the last few hundred years. What grew in it, have no idea. I can only keep looking for relatively untouched areas in the valley and take note of the oldest trees. Even that may not represent the major trees once present.
It keeps me looking though.
 
 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 484
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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rose macaskie wrote:
i know it annoys my neigh bor it floods his garden however if i actually stored it it maight gett him wanting it too. His hte last house in the row. The road stops at his house. agri rose macaskie.


Hi Rose, Perhaps talk to your neighbour about this.  If he doesn't want the water right now put in your system based on that but do something that can be altered in the future to share the wealth of water with your neighbour in case he changes his mind.  For example a low hump that is easy to drive over at an angle across the road diverting water to your collection system.  If your neighbour wants water later half the hump could be removed, the side of the road away from your collection and that portion of the water goes to your neighbour.

Max K
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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my son is my neighbor..together we worked on draininig the high water table of our property to a large pond, and then we have a overflow drain that runs excess water off through our woods to a creek and to the river.

that gave us workable property, although in the spring it still get pretty squishy in the thaws and rains..in a few days it dries out pretty good and the water ends up in the pond and ditches..

we graded everything toward those and we put in french drains under the soil surface and around his house..to rain exess water off.

we have very heavy soil that holds a LOT of water for a very long time.

if it wasn't drained toward the pond, we wouldn't be able to walk on it let alone drive on it for a lot of months of the year.

we also used raised beds, and the area around both houses is raised up 4' and our drainfield is in thie raised up area..we both have the raised areas gently sloped off toward the "ground leve" areas, an the sloped areas are fertile and fairly moist, so we grow a lot of stuff on ous here at our house including our dwarf fruit trees and mixed beds.

the old house before our fire was on the same property and we used the keyholes to rain water away from the house and collected it into bog gardens.
 
Ardilla Esch
Posts: 228
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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Nice work.

And it looks like you have plenty of clay-rich soil to make the earthen oven you talked about in another thread!
 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 484
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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I see said the blind man.  The original post sounded like it might be a neighbour not so easy to get along with.  In any case the solution remains the same.  Might the reservoir be at the property boundary so 2 lines could be run out of it, one for you and one for your son?  Not knowing the property layout I can't say if this would be do-able.  That way the water is caught, the lawn is dry and gardens for both can be watered.
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Thank you Ardilla,
    It's planted now and in the process of giving it a light mulch of oat hay. Need to see what the sunchokes think about it!
      Hauled several bags of leaves down today to work on the middle section along and with the bedding from the young lamb and kid pen. It will be a big improvement over the blow sand that compacts to a clay consistency-one of these days I'll post the blowing "dirt" from my neighbors that have built my key hole beds with close to the dug out keyhole.
    Almost wish it was clay, but believe it or not the red soil is in large part due to iron eating bacteria and it is a very fine sand. Get enough organic matter in it and it goes black. Do have some caliche up by the house which the Russian Olives love. Have raised beds in that area.
    The bacteria are also why here in the Estancia Valley plumbing in contact with soil is best done with some sort of schedule 40 or heavier pvc. I've dug up enough galvanized frost frees and plumbing to know first hand the damage those little buggers cause. Same thing with pulling a stainless steel encased pump-if you have to pull one and those bacteria are present the casing will be covered with a slick coating of red-not unlike green tank algae, just red.
 
Ardilla Esch
Posts: 228
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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Oh, that makes sense.

I've run into that red bacterial slime while pulling remediation pumps at petroleum contaminated sites.  I used to have to clean the pumps two to three times a year because of that crud.  Give those bacteria iron, hydrocarbons, and oxygen in steady supply and they take off to horror movie proportions.

Do you get the black maghemite particles in you water because of the bacteria?  One time I collected a jar of someone's well water with a lot of maghemite, you could put a strong horseshoe magnet on the jar and the particles would line up with the magnetic field

The sunchokes should be happy there.  My maxmillian sunflowers are doing well in similar conditions.  I've heard that maxmillian's rhizome is very similar (and edible).  Maybe this year I will try eating a few.
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Hi Ardilla,
      No black maghemite particles in the water. Even have a few volcanic bombs and no magnetism. Would be nice! )
      We have fuel pipelines that are better than 40 years old near here and they are doing "pig" tests on a regular basis now,so at least they are monitoring it.
      Thank you for the Maxmillian sunflower mention. They do grow here under drip lines, in bar ditches and in the neighbors circles- he finally figured out his cattle liked them! )
 
rose macaskie
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Mckennedy i would not mind sharing any water i collected with the neighbors .

  pat maas you asked for a drawing of collecting water from a road and i have done two not very nice one.
      The situation of the road is not what most people would find in the road running past their house. The houses are built on a tongue of land with ravines on each side of the tongue. The road surface is totally flat because it is just a village lane and normally roads are higher in the middle and lower at the sides so water would run down drains at the side of the road and not down the road itself so the idea of just directing the water to the side with a bump would not work in normal situation, you would have to take the water out of drains that run down the sides of the road. 
        I suppose in a normal road you would need to put half pipes down the sides of the road to harvest the water from the road or concrete ditches on each side of the road.
      Putting a ridge across the road was something my neighbor did one year to stop rainwater runoff flooding his house. so the idea is his in a way. 
  There are houses on one side of the road and a more or less precipice on the other. This is another unusual situation that would allow me to have a container below the road level easily. agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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      My other picture is of what i think might be done to collect water off a normal road.
      geoff lawton talks of using the roads as catchment areas for rainwater harvesting but he does not say how to collect the rain that comes off them.
        I know that if one person puts forward an idea others start to add theirs so here goes with the only thing i could think up.
  They did have tanks or pits rather in the ditches in some Indian youtube water harvesting thing i saw. If i remember right they were thinking more of getting the earth to take up the runoff in the pits rather than of  using the water directly them selves. agri rose macaskie
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