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Hello, I'm a pretender  RSS feed

 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 244
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
23
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So, I recently discovered permaculture, and am getting a lot of interesting ideas - for my gardening project, which is to revive a neglected yard in a small town in the Okanagan Valley. I just moved here late last summer, and have next to no knowledge about the local environment. I drove through here once when I was a kid, and that's about it. So I'm excited to have huge amounts to learn.

The yard (and house) was rented for a number of years prior to my moving in, and the soil seems very compacted. We had an awesome dandelion crop this spring. I made dandelion flower tea for the first time, which was...interesting. I think it might be a bit of an acquired taste. There is only one "garden" area - a small patch dug up by the shed. There are grapes of some type growing on said shed, but they didn't amount to anything last year, don't know if they will with more care and water through the summer this year. The yard (where it's not dandelion) is mostly grass, and an irrigation system came with it. I will be using the irrigation, because it's there, and we have grass and grass-happy neighbours I want to get along with, but my plan is to slowly reduce the amount of grass and irrigation required, and add herbals/vegtables/berries. There is a small cedar border along the east side of the yard, and an amazing juniper bush, which unfortunately is all by itself, so no berries. Also there is an old ponderosa (I think) and another evergreen at the front of the house. Sadly, the probable-ponderosa is looking a tad frail, and leaning a bit...over...the house, so might have to be cut down, probably not this year, but not too long from now.

Because I'm new to the region, I'm likely overly concerned about dangerous spiders and snakes and wildfires menacing the house, and am trying to design to allow for "fire safety" and spider-repellant plants around the house.

I have successfully gardened in the past, although not to any great extent and not in this climate. I know enough to know I need to start slow - and am trying to remain calm and philosophical as some of the things that I've tried so far this spring (planting chives and onions in the garden patch, for example) have not worked at all. I want to thank everyone for being patient, as I'm sure I'll ask things that "everyone" knows the answers to already.


 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 2579
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
501
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I suppose that my fire suppression strategy is also a spider repellent strategy.

My first defense against fire is to have metal siding and roofing.
My second defense is to have bare dirt within 5 feet of the buildings. Those two taken together are not very accommodating to spiders.
Third layer of defense is grass/forbs only, no shrubs or trees out to 30 feet. Might be some good habitat in there for some species of spiders, but mostly they can stay in the woods.

 
Isaac Bickford
Posts: 101
Location: Okanogan County, WA
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In dry climates, you cannot be over-concerned about wildlfire. Take it seriously, and yours might be the only house left standing.
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 244
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
23
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Thank-you. Fortunately the house already comes with metal siding, and partially surrounded by gravel (as good as bare dirt in terms of fire suppression, I would think?) But trees are definitely closer then 30 feet, although I don't plan on planting any more. Bonus - there is a fire hydrant right outside the trees, and a volunteer fireman lives just two short "streets" over. I hope to draw up some plans and share them within the next day or so.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 2579
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
501
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One danger from trees closer than 30 feet to buildings, is that if the tree catches fire, the radiant heat can be so intense that it catches the curtains on fire inside the house. The other danger from burning trees is cinder fall.

The third part of my fire-survival strategy that I didn't mention is that trees within 30 to 100 feet of buildings are pruned so that no branches are within 6 feet of the ground. And bushes are not allowed to grow under trees. And trees are spaced no closer than about 30 feet from each other.

My place is gonna burn eventually. Might as well set the stage for a grass fire, which is easily survivable, rather than a forest fire which is not. I can't think of where the closest fire hydrant is. Perhaps 8 miles away, perhaps 50...

Here's what the most recent close wildfire looked like:






 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 244
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
23
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So, right after reading your last reply, I hear the fire siren go off, and look out the window to see plumes of smoke coming up from the other side of town.
Then I went and pulled up some plants leaning against the house.

I had thought that I would plant some berry bushes at about 32-33 feet from the house. Perhaps not? I'd like to think that since I'm within town limits, I would be relatively safe...
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 2579
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
501
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I'm in an extreme dryland, with zero neighbors and poor road access, so when things burn the fire rampages across the landscape. The last fire missed my place by about a mile... It took out every blade of grass and every tree.

 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 244
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
23
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Amazing.
 
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