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Permaculture Food System Experiments in Wyoming  RSS feed

 
Posts: 1625
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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No pictures but I had an interesting look at our kraters yesterday. Some of the trees are doing deplorably. I might classify them as dead, however others are perfectly healthy. I'm not sure why some died but others have been fine. The kraters themselves appear quite healthy. The cover crops are growing and flowering out prolifically. I have not watered at all and haven't needed to, it's been so wet. I did have a fair number of trees never come out of dormancy. Some that barely came out have now died. I'm not sure if its' the tree.......or me.
 
elle sagenev
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I had warned and ordered Daughter to stop laying on the chicken wire fence I have around the corn hugel. She had it stretched and sagging. I knew I was going to need to pound another Tpost to fix the sagging but we borrow the Tpost pounder and puller from the in laws, so it wasn't on hand. Then I went out and the turkeys had gotten in. They ate all the broccoli. Killed a tomato. Flattened some corn and generally made me want to cry. So I shoved a shovel in the group near the sagging part and that's holding it steady for now. I suppose I should be thankful that is all the damage they did considering the buckets and buckets of green beans I have growing out there.

Fencing is something of an issue for my gardens. They are new this year and I've done a temporary T-post and chicken wire set up, thinking it'd help me through. It hasn't. I need to get over and dig holes for my wooden posts and nail on my horse fencing. That will keep the birds out of my important areas. My real dream is to fence in a large swath of the front and side of the property. These would be what I'd consider personal spaces for the family and I wouldn't want customers of the U-pick in them. I suppose I tend to not do small projects because I'm waiting for the time and money to do the large one that will then negate the small one. I need to get over that.

Anyway, my whine for today. That and it seems to me that we've had a fair amount of tree and bush death this year. It was SOOOO rainy things started molding and then it just stopped. It's been hot and dry and I am watering but it doesn't matter, things are dying. I'm depressed. I think I need to throttle back plans until I can get a good handle on what I have going already. /sigh
 
elle sagenev
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I have harvested green beans from the corn hugel and they look amazing. still a lot more to harvest. I've found corn growing in the bottom of my kraters. It isn't very tall, I won't get any corn from it, but it's never been watered. So Kraters seem pretty awesome to me still.
 
elle sagenev
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Blog has some picture updates.http://peacockorchard.com/ if you want to see it.

Harvested some of the potatoes. They did amazingly well. The ones harvested were the ones in the raised bed that I simply threw straw over. If not for bugs they probably would have been mind blowing.

Green beans from the hugel have been harvested multiple times and multiple harvests are in my future as well, I'm sure.

The hot peppers in the wine bottle hot box are starting to flourish. They aren't fenced so turkeys are a problem but next year I'm going to fence the whole shebang.

Kraters are doing well. Some are much better than others. Depends on the soil composition obviously. We had pretty wildly different soil areas. The one doing the best is the one closest to and with the most black clay in it. (the black clay that holds water) That Krater looks amazing!

 
elle sagenev
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Corn hugel is a SUCCESS!!!

I decided to pick this one because it kept getting stuck down in between my potato towers and I wanted to make sure the bugs didn't get it. Not quite as mature at the top as it could have been (I broke that part off in this pic) but otherwise the corn is fully mature and about the size of a hot dog.
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elle sagenev
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I didn't want to copy all the pictures over so I'm simply going to link to my blog: http://peacockorchard.com/2015/08/31/free-deep-mulch-as-conditioning-for-expanded-garden/

We have been taking straw that fell onto the side of the road near our house and moving it to various future garden areas. The straw was there a few weeks (I wanted to make sure no one was going to claim it even though they were large round bales that exploded so it was highly unlikely) and are laden with bugs. All of the poultry can be seen having a blast in my sometimes 3 foot high piles of straw. The ducks finally discovered it this morning so if you can imagine 21 ducks, 4 peacocks, 3 turkeys and innumerable chickens all foraging in the same place....yeah. crazy! I just wish it weren't outside my bedroom window. lol Sleep.............


We harvested all of the green beans last night. Most of them had been left too long and so we seeded them for next years planting. I did manage to get 2 quarts for cooking though.

Made 8 jars of pickles, only 1 jar was our home grown cucumbers though, the rest were farmers market.

Tomatoes are turning red. Extremely excited to start that harvest!
 
elle sagenev
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The sunken corn hugel has been harvested. Most of the corn looks pretty good. I was surprised that we got any to be honest. The sweet corn is...............weird. Really weird. But the painted mountain corn looks great.

Posting a few pics, one of the painted mountain and one of the weird sweet corn. The rest of the pics are on my blog if you want to see them.

All in all I think it went well. We did get some corn growing in the kraters. Considering I never exactly watered any kraters I'm fairly impressed that anything grew!
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master pollinator
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I think getting a yield without irrigating is encouraging! The sweet corn looks like it suffered from inadequate pollination, which might mean you didn't have enough plants close enough together.



 
elle sagenev
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A few more updates sans pics. I have pics but I'm just lazy right now and don't want to save them down. I'll link to the blog when I have the post up because the pics are already uploaded to it and yeah, lazy.

Anyway, tomato harvest has been going full tilt though so far it's been 90% forced harvesting thanks to animals. The first forced harvest was when I discovered our Tom turkey was now big enough to give a slight hop over the fence and was eating ALL of the ripe tomatoes. Since I couldn't get him to stay out I harvested every tomato from that area. The second forced harvest is because we went on vacation and our great pyr got pissed at us and decided he was going to lay smack dab in the middle of one of my tomato bushes. He broke a lot of it and I harvested 1/2 the plant thanks to that. So tons of green tomatoes over here right now.

Good news is I have had some amazing food preservation going on. We have 8 pints of homemade salsa. Delish! We also have 3 quarts and 3 pints of homemade spaghetti/pizza sauce. SOOOOOO tasty. I tried 2 different ways of making the sauce. One is the Sicilian way with my favorite merlot and the other was oven roasting and blending. I kept the skins on and blended it up in both cases.

I have 1 tomato plant I'm saving all of the seeds from as it's proven to be drought hardy. I planted a whole bunch of tomatoes this year as I grew a lot myself and was given a ton. I couldn't keep up with the watering since I planted them all over the place. So some simply weren't watered by anything but nature. 1 plant survived this neglect and the fruit tastes pretty good so I'm going to grow a TON of it and plant it all over the kraters next year to see what happens.

Planted out the bamboo I'd been growing in a pot on the porch to our improved drainage pond. It's looking pretty pathetic but I hope it comes back. You can see that on my blog post for today. www.peacockorchard.com

Interestingly there are quite a few people following my blog from the area. I did not realize what interest permaculture farming would garner here. I'm very pleased about it so far.

I've heavily mulched next years expanded garden area. So far it's been the favorite place of my smartest hens. I've decided I'm quite tired of a lot of my chickens and will be doing a massive cull when it's time to process the turkeys. I only want to keep the ones who go forage and the ones not eating the eggs, obviously. Also gotta off the one that bit my kid. I know my kid was holding bread in her lap but......that hen is dead. If I'm going to be selectively keeping genes for my plants I've decided I start seriously doing the same with my other animals. I only want plants and animals suited for how we are farming here and right now the large majority of my chickens are out. I have hope the ducks will improve. I give them a bit of a pass on the foraging mainly because I love ducks so much and the stupid ducks keep wandering off the property when they do go. We have to chase them out of the wheat fields. I'm sure the farmer would be thrilled about that. Hopefully the big pond will keep them closer to home. Hopefully.
 
elle sagenev
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I think getting a yield without irrigating is encouraging! The sweet corn looks like it suffered from inadequate pollination, which might mean you didn't have enough plants close enough together.





I agree it does look poorly pollinated but that does confuse me. I planted in groups, to avoid this issue. Plus I planted heavily all together. SO beats me. Attached a pic of the corn hugel. It's not a particularly large area and I planted a TON of seed in it. I did have poor germination rates of the corn though. The green beans went bonkers in the area, as you can see. Still the sweet corn did much more poorly than the flour corn. So that sucks!
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elle sagenev
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Completely harvested potatoes and ready to give a review of the various methods.

So the first method was simply placing the potatoes on top of the soil of a raised bed and covering them with straw. Super simple. Good yields. Easy to harvest as well since they did not go very deep in the soil.

Second method was a potato tower made of tires. I only got 2 tires on and perhaps I waited too long to do the second. There were 0 potatoes in the second tower. Yields were less with this method than with the straw method. Also, it was dangerous. While I know the spiders were doing me a great service by eating pests I had quite a fright when I flipped the first tire and found a black widow living between the 2 tires. I found quite a few in my harvest. I won't do this method again. It's too labor intensive, yields were not great and it's a risk to my health.

The third was perhaps the laziest of them all since I never watered them, ever. The third was putting potatoes in the berms. They did grow. They even produced a few seeds. However, I believe most of them to have been eaten by ground animals. That's ok by me. Rather they eat the potatoes than my tree roots.
 
elle sagenev
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We have a Fukuoka experiment going in the sunken hugel garden now. Winter barley is planted and FENCED which was key here. Now to see if it establishes nicely and if I can establish my spring plants right in between the barley plants. I'm excited!
 
Tyler Ludens
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elle sagenev wrote: FENCED which was key here.



I'm always amazed when people are able to grow stuff without a fence. We have far too many critters for that here!
 
elle sagenev
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

elle sagenev wrote: FENCED which was key here.



I'm always amazed when people are able to grow stuff without a fence. We have far too many critters for that here!



Lol. If not for my own poultry a fence wouldn't be needed. My biggest problem is ground animals and an above ground fence does nothing to deter them. Owell!
 
elle sagenev
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Just sent in my information and request for warranty tree replacements. In my mind I'd lost a lot more trees than I actually did after documentation. I guess every tree loss hurts me, so I over blow the losses. Still, I hope they can give me some replacements. The peach trees I was sent all did awfully. 3 of the 4 never came out of dormancy and the 4th one graft was mostly dead with the sprout coming out very close to the graft line. Pics attached of the peaches. I bought 2 Lodi apples this year because the one from last year did SSSSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO well. So obviously those ones also never came out of dormancy. I also had both pie cherry trees not come out of dormancy. The other 2 cherry trees did though. It's so random. Things can be planted right next to each other and be so different. Then the same tree can be planted in multiple places and be so different. Crazy!



I did lose the entire nut orchard. So there is that huge loss. It was rabbits. I had some almonds that they'd left alone but when I went back to take pics they were gone. Damn rabbits are eating everything. I'm going to convince my husband to get out there and start shooting them again.
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elle sagenev
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So if you've been wondering how my Kraters are catching snow, I can finally tell you.

Depends, is the answer. Some are better than others. Our krater with the greatest circumference only caught snow on one side. The deepest krater had about a foot of snow in it, all over. The best krater had 2-3 feet of snow in it and this is the best all around. The plants in it are doing the best, catches the most water, etc. I'm not sure why this krater is so special. Location maybe? How it was dug? Dirt? Not sure yet. It's just doing awesome.

On top of the kraters we have 2 drainage systems in place for our driveway and both of them filled almost entirely with snow.
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Also the deepest krater
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elle sagenev
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A driveway drainage pic and a pic of my 2014 berm still catching a ton of blown snow!
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Tyler Ludens
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Hooray for functional berms and kraters!
 
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One thing I love about winter is seeing how much more snow you catch then your neighbors do, really shows the value of your work
Not counting loss via transpiration a foot of snow yields approx an inch of water I remember right
 
elle sagenev
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Anticipated maximum of 8 inches of snow tonight. If we get it it will be a true test of our snow catching powers. I'm very excited to see this!

Pics will come!
 
elle sagenev
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Needing to find a way to protect one of my apple trees from rabbits. It has branches too close to the ground to put a trunk wrap on it. If I tightly wrap chicken wire would that work?

With that I also need to go into the cider orchard and wrap the trees. They are all very small trees but I figure I should wrap them for the winter. Rabbits are vicious where we live. Must start killing!
 
Tyler Ludens
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I would not tightly wrap it with wire because if you forget, the wire can eventually cut into the tree. Making a larger wire circle around the tree, even partly burying it so the cute lil bunnies can dig under, might help.
 
elle sagenev
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I would not tightly wrap it with wire because if you forget, the wire can eventually cut into the tree. Making a larger wire circle around the tree, even partly burying it so the cute lil bunnies can dig under, might help.



The problem with that is I've done it already. Our wind manages to whip things around pretty seriously and doing that last year resulted in a lot of bark stripped and dead trees.
 
elle sagenev
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So some more pics of how things are doing in the snow. I didn't include any of the swales or kraters because they didn't do anything special. No the acres of sweet clover did magic with this snow. This snow is light and fluffy and it didn't blow hardly at all. Because of this the swales and such didn't work their magic, they work mostly well for blowing snow, which is our usual mode of weather. Anyhow, we had acres of yellow sweet clover this year and we were interested to see what it could do for us in snow management. As such we mowed mostly on contour to see what would happen. Again, nothing special because the snow didn't blow much. However, the clover itself accumulated vast amounts of snow underneath it and it held it there. So I'd say keeping the clover tall was a good thing for this snow.

So as you can see in the second pic the snow isn't that deep and it's powdery. The third pic shows the great snow harvesting our clover fields did. You can see the on contour mow and how it doesn't have any extra snow on it. You can also see the loads of snow weighing our clover down!

Now not to brag but I think we have so much variety going on on our property that we'll be able to harvest most any moisture in one form or another in one of our many experimental works.
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Devon Olsen
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Snows like these are a good reason to keep vegetation in place until spring imo,and I personally think that they capture more blowing snow then clean cut vegetation but for my corn i cut the vegetation post harvest to "cover" the soil and provide some insulation from the cold of the snow, I'm honestly not sure which would result in more water harvesting in the long run, but then that's why diversity in strategy is so helpful as you have exemplified
 
elle sagenev
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Devon Olsen wrote:Snows like these are a good reason to keep vegetation in place until spring imo,and I personally think that they capture more blowing snow then clean cut vegetation but for my corn i cut the vegetation post harvest to "cover" the soil and provide some insulation from the cold of the snow, I'm honestly not sure which would result in more water harvesting in the long run, but then that's why diversity in strategy is so helpful as you have exemplified



I did the same with my cornstalks. Mulched. I also mulched a large garden bed with straw. Something to be said for each form I think. The mulch will be much more useful once the snow has melted!
 
elle sagenev
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So another major snow a week ago. We still have a lot on our property though the commercial farm next to us is ground already.

Anyway, swales were full up and even with the berms.

Kraters filled in completely.

Duck pond filled in too, which was unfortunate because I fell into it.
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Tyler Ludens
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Woo! Beautiful!
 
Devon Olsen
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Nice snow capture:)
 
elle sagenev
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Preliminary walk through indicates that I have had no new deaths over the winter. Snow capture probably contributed to that. I'm not counting the experimental nut orchard any more. I couldn't protect the trees from rabbits so I lost them steadily as soon as they were planted out. That's a failure unless I can protect them better. Anyway, the kraters have had great success. I also think I'm going to have a bumper harvest of plums this year. Our first ever fruit harvest from the trees. The sweet cherries survived which made me happy. The pie cherries were essentially dead last year so I'm not surprised they appear quite dead now. One of the seaberries lived. I wasn't sure about them so I'm pleased. The goji was eaten to the ground but I'm very hopeful I'll see growth from the root as it did very well last year.

I was concerned about my big lodi apple this winter. The rabbits got to it something major. I used electrical tape to wrap it up. I was concerned about drying in our climate. It has buds so it happily survived.

The winter barley is coming up but sporadically.

The straw seems to be quite nice in some areas of our big garden and not thick enough in others. We have a lot of grass coming up in there right now.


More trees coming for spring planting. Also planning on completing the natural swimming pond. Lots to do still.
 
Tyler Ludens
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elle sagenev wrote: Also planning on completing the natural swimming pond.



Oooo!

 
elle sagenev
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We might have plums. In the middle of that snow storm thingy now so...might.
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elle sagenev
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Sainfoin came back thick and strong. We're excited to see how it progresses.
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elle sagenev
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So I mulched my kitchen garden last fall with straw. Over the winter it became inhabited by a humongous family of ground squirrels. I had abandoned the garden. Actually dug up the onions and garlic I'd planted and moved them. Then this little Stoat moved in. A voracious predator. We see it carting off ground squirrels left and right. A nature victory!
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Tyler Ludens
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I'm afraid I think he's adorable, the little killer!

 
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@elle s.: "A voracious predator. We see it carting off ground squirrels left and right."

Is there a "loaner" clause in his contract??.....I'd like to introduce him/her to some of our barn rats. Ever since we got the LGDs, I can't convince the mink or weasels to come back for a snack...
 
elle sagenev
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John Weiland wrote:@elle s.: "A voracious predator. We see it carting off ground squirrels left and right."

Is there a "loaner" clause in his contract??.....I'd like to introduce him/her to some of our barn rats. Ever since we got the LGDs, I can't convince the mink or weasels to come back for a snack...



I'm afraid this little murderer is going to be occupied on our property for AGES. lol
 
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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elle sagenev wrote:Needing to find a way to protect one of my apple trees from rabbits. It has branches too close to the ground to put a trunk wrap on it. If I tightly wrap chicken wire would that work?

I know this reply is late to the question I'm answering, but here goes.

One method of tree protection I was taught is to loosely wrap a tree with some kind of wire mesh [chicken wire should work fine] with enough layers that it's impossible for a mammal sized nibbler to chew on the trunk. The loose wrapping allows the expansion of the trunk to proceed normally, when the trunk is thick enough you don't feel it's in any danger anymore remove the mesh.
 
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