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when would you NOT crater garden?

 
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
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You replied to me in a previous thread that crater gardening is not for every situation. I understand that. So why would you not want a crater garden?
 
pollinator
Posts: 304
Location: Montana
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When creating a Krater Garden you are expanding the exposed surface area of the earth; for the Sage Mountain Center Krater Garden we gained 400 square meters of surface area and it seems like even more than that. This means your growing surface has increased dramatically, as have the ecological niches. It's important that the interest, skill, resources, and availability of those invested in the project all coincide so that there is enough direction and guidance for the system to reach it's potential.


Cross section of the Krater Garden.

It's important that there is a surplus amount of water that is not currently being maximized that will feed this expanded surface area. You need to know what your runoff coefficient is, if you have overland flow, and the size of the area feeding the given point. Then the 24 hour and 36 hour 100 year rain event figures and accommodate for an even more catastrophic event with the hydro-logical plan. It is also important to have an idea of what your evaporation rates are. I think I'm safe in saying that every Krater Garden should have at least a vernal pool in the bottom. If you have enough water for even larger cultures then this would be a higher return solution.

There are specific features within the landscape where a crater garden makes sense, where the landscape lends itself to this kind of treatment. Everywhere but these given features there are more effective treatments that can be done. Often times in places where a Krater Garden would make sense the area can be more effectively cultivated with more water as part of an aquaculture system with large ponds and Chinampas; more intensive aquaculture systems would provide an even greater return on investment.


Chinampa Diagram


Artist rendition of the Aztec Capital of Tenochtitlan. It is thought that 1/2 - 2/3 of the food eaten in the city was provided by Chinampa.

It's amazing how many of the great cultures of days past had great reverence for water and skill working with it in a variety of ways.



 
Posts: 99
Location: zone 6a, north america
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it's also amazing how those past cultures could design and construct something so grand without the benefits of giant metal machines and the hydrocarbons that power them.

a practical question for ya, Zach: if one had a crater and wanted to run pigs on the bottom to vibrate it into a vernal pool (sepp-style), how could one run fencing to make a pig pit? would a horizontal fence running along the top surface (ground level) work? wondering if some mesh combined with some properly-spaced electric strands would be enough...having escaped pigs running around the neighborhood would not be an attractive option in this case.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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So do you see any benefit in doing small craters instead of a large one? Would you consider that not to be a krater garden and just an infiltration basin???
 
Zach Weiss
pollinator
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Siu-yu Man, great question. I asked Sepp about this same idea and he did not think it was such a good plan. Krater Gardens are more intensive cultivation spaces where a lot of care and hand maintenance delivers the best result, not so much a space for raising pig forage and pigs. I thought it was a great idea to help seal the pond, but Sepp didn't think it was an appropriate technique.

That said pigs would be very easy to fence into this type of area. Just a single line of high voltage electrical line is enough for pigs. It is important that the pig is trained when young. The most full proof method I've heard is to train them with an electric fence inside of a real fence. Pigs are so sensitive with their nose that the fence delivers a shock they don't ever want to experience again.

A single line fairly low to the ground of high voltage electric fence should be plenty to keep them from running a-muck in the neighborhood. I've seen pigs even refuse to cross old fence-lines even after the fence has been moved because their memory is so good.

Elle, there are certainly benefits to small crater gardens, one huge one is as a model to gain an understanding of the concept and techniques to be applied on a larger scale. A vernal pool sounds like what you might be describing, which are valuable eco-tones, although not really a Krater Garden per say. The right approach really depends on the amount of water you receive, the time of year it is delivered, and the type of soil you have. Sometimes a vernal pool is a very appropriate solution as it provides valuable insect and amphibian habitat and helps retain water. For the real micro-climate benefits Sepp talks about with Krater Gardens they have to have significant climatic inertia and a lot of stone and water.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1978
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
157
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Some of these things are becoming hard to answer. Yes, we have a typical season that is wetter than others. However, it hasn't been true the last few years. Our seasons have been off I think. At this point I believe the majority of the moisture we receive is coming in the form of snow. That is usually fall and spring. We tend to get our biggest snow storm in April. Halloween is usually frozen as well. In between those it is just sporadic. I don't know. I've lived here almost all of my life and the weather is not the same now as when I was a child. That probably sounds stupid.

Anyway. Thanks Zach! I believe I'm just going to have to do a bit of everything and see what works the best.
 
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