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Best grass/vegetation for hugelkulturs?

 
Jon La Foy
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Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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I'm looking to restore a dry creekbed that runs through my property here in Central Texas. I've read up on using swales/hugelkulturs to assist in this (which is how I found this amazing website). I understand that grass is crucial into bringing up the water underground in order to keep the topsoil moist (so the creek can flow again). Does anyone have any input to which grass will be best to accomplish this? I do intend on turning my property into a food forest to include the creek bed, so eventually there will be fruit trees and all of the other fixings involved in a permaculture. The soil is mixed: some sand, some very rich topsoil, and some light clay (turns to dust when dry). Thanks in advance!!
 
John Saltveit
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I would certainly consider nitrogen-fixing shrubs like legumes or Eleagnus.
John S
PDX OR
 
Jon La Foy
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Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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John Saltveit wrote:I would certainly consider nitrogen-fixing shrubs like legumes or Eleagnus.
John S
PDX OR


Do these nitrogen fixing plants help hold water/moisture to the topsoil? Also, which subspecies of Elaeagnus do you recommend? I assume the ones that bare edicble fruit, like elaeagnus umbellata...
 
Dave Lodge
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Location: New England
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I like to use Canada Wild Rye, Virginia Wild Rye, Little Bluestem, Prairie Dropseed. 3-7' fibrous roots. Big Bluestem, Indian grass, Switchgrass too if you can do tall grasses. 6-12' deep.

Legumes roots are not usually fibrous, which makes them a good mix with grasses.

Holding shrubs:

Ninebark. Very deep roots (15')
Lowbush Blueberry. Shallow, spreading fibrous roots
Huckleberry. Same as blueberry
Elderberry/Hazelnut good on the bottom edge.
Serviceberry (24" roots, spreading and fibrous)
 
John Saltveit
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Yes, John,
I would recommend the edible kinds of eleagnus. Stacking functions.
Maybe more than one depending on space and time of year of harvest.
Autumn Olive-Sept OCt, Goumi-June, Silverberry-Aprill May
John S
PDX OR
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 84
Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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Dave Lodge wrote:I like to use Canada Wild Rye, Virginia Wild Rye, Little Bluestem, Prairie Dropseed. 3-7' fibrous roots. Big Bluestem, Indian grass, Switchgrass too if you can do tall grasses. 6-12' deep.

Legumes roots are not usually fibrous, which makes them a good mix with grasses.

Holding shrubs:

Ninebark. Very deep roots (15')
Lowbush Blueberry. Shallow, spreading fibrous roots
Huckleberry. Same as blueberry
Elderberry/Hazelnut good on the bottom edge.
Serviceberry (24" roots, spreading and fibrous)


This is all great!! Thank you very much. I'm finding more uses for the grasses (using it as hay) after doing research. That would be great for the goats I just bought. Would it be best to plant these along the water path in the creek, or actually in the creek, or both? Thanks again for all of the help.
 
Jon La Foy
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Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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John Saltveit wrote:Yes, John,
I would recommend the edible kinds of eleagnus. Stacking functions.
Maybe more than one depending on space and time of year of harvest.
Autumn Olive-Sept OCt, Goumi-June, Silverberry-Aprill May
John S
PDX OR


I'm still new to permaculture, especially terms, so what do you mean by "stacking functions." I have plenty of space, and thankfully here in Texas we have long autumns (usually through november). Thanks again for the help
 
wayne fajkus
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Jon. I'm not sure what you are asking. I'm in central Texas and have a dry creek bed. Are you thinking grass will make it a flowing creek vs water just flowing when it rains and there's no standing water the next day?

My creek flows then dries. Nothing stays. What is interesting is we dug a hole nearby. Probably 10' x 6' x 2' deep. After the next rain it has held water all summer. We got into a clay layer when we dug the hole whereas the dry creek bed is black dirt.

This gives me hope that I can dig and dam the dry creek for a pond. Water won't flow but each rain event will add to it.
 
wayne fajkus
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Maybe I miss understand. You want the water to soak in vs just moving downhill when it rains? Recharge the moisture in the ground.

Swales are good. I have 2. Creating small dams in the creek that will hold several inches of water then overflow to the next dam, etc. Similar to erosion control you see on the side of roads made from rocks.

I'm gonna try to load a pic of my swale. We got 1" rain yesterday and it filled up.
 
Dave Lodge
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Virginia Wild Rye would be for moister areas.

In wet areas you might want to go with sedges. Not sure how palatable they are though. Fox Sedge is common around here.

Brushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus) might work in the ditch, and is a grass.

For grasses you have cool season and warm season. Wild rye's are cool season. Bluestem's and others are warm season.

Excellent site for information to your area.

"East Texas grasses for holding soils"
http://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=2933
 
John Saltveit
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Stacking functions means that a plant of fungus or whatever you're doing does more than one useful thing for you. For example the plant lupine in nitrogen-fixing, it is a native plant here in PNW to increase local pollinators, it is a dynamic accumulator of Phosphorus, and some varieties have an edibles seed. Did I mention that it's pretty? Many functions.
JohN S
PDX OR
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 84
Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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wayne fajkus wrote:Maybe I miss understand. You want the water to soak in vs just moving downhill when it rains? Recharge the moisture in the ground.

Swales are good. I have 2. Creating small dams in the creek that will hold several inches of water then overflow to the next dam, etc. Similar to erosion control you see on the side of roads made from rocks.

I'm gonna try to load a pic of my swale. We got 1" rain yesterday and it filled up.


Bingo, that's exactly what I was talking about. Holding the moisture in the top soil will allow the runoff rain over the next few days flow instead of soak into the ground (theoretically until it rains again, becoming a seasonal creek instead of a wash). I am convince that my creek was flowing at some point, a LOOONG time ago. There is an old Indian trail that runs through my property parallel with the creek, so there is some reason that they followed the wash. I would love to see a picture of your swales. What part of Central Texas are your from?
 
Jon La Foy
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Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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John Saltveit wrote:Stacking functions means that a plant of fungus or whatever you're doing does more than one useful thing for you. For example the plant lupine in nitrogen-fixing, it is a native plant here in PNW to increase local pollinators, it is a dynamic accumulator of Phosphorus, and some varieties have an edibles seed. Did I mention that it's pretty? Many functions.
JohN S
PDX OR


Thanks! Still getting use to all the new terms. That helped out a lot!
 
wayne fajkus
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Mine are 90 degree from a dirt road going down hill. Think of my road as your dry creek bed as both are the path of running water. I'm not sure if it meets definition of a swale as most of the water gets diverted from the road. Diversion swale? One inch of rain will fill it.

It prevents washout from the road. Collects a large amount of water that has to soak in.
20140715_162417.jpg
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Dave Lodge
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Location: New England
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This might be a good resource on what works in the deep depressions that flood with water.

http://rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu/raingardens/
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 84
Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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Dave Lodge wrote:This might be a good resource on what works in the deep depressions that flood with water.

http://rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu/raingardens/


Thanks for the link. There's a lot of good stuff in there!!
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 84
Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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wayne fajkus wrote:Mine are 90 degree from a dirt road going down hill. Think of my road as your dry creek bed as both are the path of running water. I'm not sure if it meets definition of a swale as most of the water gets diverted from the road. Diversion swale? One inch of rain will fill it.

It prevents washout from the road. Collects a large amount of water that has to soak in.


Here are some pictures of the creek bed. The first picture is before we cleared a section and the second is after. Both are looking upcreek. The third is looking downcreek where we had already cleared the majority of it. I was trying to focus on clearing the creek along the actual path of the water which is where I wan to start growing grass. This is only about 1/3 of the entire creek that runs through my property and this is about a half mile from the starting point of the creek.

Did you say you live in Central Texas? If so, where?
20140712_144020.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20140712_144020.jpg]
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 84
Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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Here are the other two pictures.
20140713_133641.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20140713_133641.jpg]
20140712_144027.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20140712_144027.jpg]
 
wayne fajkus
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Kempner area between Copperas cove and lampasas. You're welcome to come take a look. Nothing fancy or elaborate.

We chose sheep over goats for the meat. I have a goal not to buy any meat from the grocery store. Our diet is sheep, deer, chickens, fish. We are not fanatical bout it. We still eat out. At home though it's caught, killed, or raised.

On the sheep we are working on rotational grazing.

The two swales were put in for erosion Control, also grazing for horses. We limit them to a couple hours evening so they don't decimate that plot. On the swale I pictured there is peach, pear, and plums to use the water.

My bigger swale will get a couple pecan trees this winter. Both will have perennial grape, asparugus, and blackberries this winter.

Probably intermix mimosa trees. They are a nitrogen adder.
 
Jon La Foy
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Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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wayne fajkus wrote:Kempner area between Copperas cove and lampasas. You're welcome to come take a look. Nothing fancy or elaborate.

We chose sheep over goats for the meat. I have a goal not to buy any meat from the grocery store. Our diet is sheep, deer, chickens, fish. We are not fanatical bout it. We still eat out. At home though it's caught, killed, or raised.

On the sheep we are working on rotational grazing.

The two swales were put in for erosion Control, also grazing for horses. We limit them to a couple hours evening so they don't decimate that plot. On the swale I pictured there is peach, pear, and plums to use the water.

My bigger swale will get a couple pecan trees this winter. Both will have perennial grape, asparugus, and blackberries this winter.

Probably intermix mimosa trees. They are a nitrogen adder.


Ha! This is going to sound funny, but in the picture you posted of your swale there was a hill in the background. I recognized it!! I took am in Kempner (north of town). What a coincidence!!
I appreciate all the advice. It seems that we have similar goals in life.
 
Jon La Foy
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Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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I've been doing a lot of research on the grasses that everyone listed. Then walking around my property I found most of them. That'll save me money having to buy them. Now I just need to research the bushes and I'll be on my way. Thank you everyone!
 
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