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elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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So I've been documenting this in my projects thread "Permaculture food projects in Wyoming" but I find it to be a pretty interesting subject and wonder what other people are doing. There is a lot of talk of gabions and such for catching water in desert areas but what if your main water source is snow? What if you also rarely see snow fall straight down, as the winds reach upwards of 60+ mph regularly.

That is what I've been dealing with. How to catch blowing snow.

I've got swales and berms, excellent way to catch blowing snow.

The mini Kraters have proven mostly effective at catching blowing snow. I'll say that from limited observation I'd say the small diameter Kraters do a better job at keeping blown snow.

Now we have acres of sweet clover we did not mow. This effectively caught all the snow that fell without wind.

The great thing about most of these is that once the snow melts the water is also harvested into the earthworks. The only outlier there is the sweet clover trap. I'm not sure where all that melted snow will go, we haven't done earthworks on that acreage yet.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Here are a couple of other threads about snow harvesting .

http://www.permies.com/t/44544/rainwater/Harvesting-water-frozen-precipitation-snow

I put up another snow fence this fall and I hope I will be able to get in to the land early enough to see how it worked.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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My hugelkultur beds really work great at catching snow on the leeward side of the prevailing winds (hugel-snow fence?). We routinely get gusts in the 50-6- MPH range with mostly 15-30 MPH sustained winds. I plan on building even taller hugel berms in the near future. My existing beds are in the four to five foot tall range and the new one will be something closer to seven or eight feet tall. The sheltered area these berms create deposits a lot of snow into the system. I utilize lots of curvey, twisty, shapes to create lots of edge and microclimates when I build them. I think combining the taller hugel-berms with the mini-craters might be a big time winner in this area. I don't think hugelkultur combined with the swale berm is the best idea though (especially a tall hugel or on steep-ish ground). I don't know if you can build something like this though, it seems as though you were facing some regulatory issues when you were first considering the craters.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1275
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Dave Dahlsrud wrote:My hugelkultur beds really work great at catching snow on the leeward side of the prevailing winds (hugel-snow fence?). We routinely get gusts in the 50-6- MPH range with mostly 15-30 MPH sustained winds. I plan on building even taller hugel berms in the near future. My existing beds are in the four to five foot tall range and the new one will be something closer to seven or eight feet tall. The sheltered area these berms create deposits a lot of snow into the system. I utilize lots of curvey, twisty, shapes to create lots of edge and microclimates when I build them. I think combining the taller hugel-berms with the mini-craters might be a big time winner in this area. I don't think hugelkultur combined with the swale berm is the best idea though (especially a tall hugel or on steep-ish ground). I don't know if you can build something like this though, it seems as though you were facing some regulatory issues when you were first considering the craters.


I do want to do a large hugel as a tester but I worry because of how dry we are that an above ground hugel will fail here. I'll give it a try anyway.

As for the regulatory I think it's more to do with the fact that I work for lawyers. It has me anal about doing it right. Plus we will be a U-pick and thus open to the public. So I received government permission for a particular size of mini Krater. They never told me I couldn't do more than one, though I don't think the lady I talked to ever considered I'd be pocking my property with these things. I have written approval either way so HA!
 
Dave Dahlsrud
Posts: 498
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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The top third of your hugel will likely be dry as heck(you pick prickly pear and agave?), but the bottom third should be really productive, especially on the side opsite the prevailing wind. It seems like you would end up being able to hold onto more moisture, net, with the hugel/crater combo. It could be a really cool experiment post some pics if you decide to try it out.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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This is the way I see it, Elle: If you were to put a bit of the wood below grade (like a foot or two... which would provide you with material for the hugul topping anyway), and fed this below grade hugul wood with mini craters on the edge of the hugul, especially up slope of the hugul, so that snowmelt ends up in the base of the hugul, and the hugul was really well mulched (like six inches of hay, pinned with branches), and you had some drip irrigation on the hugul for the first couple summers, then you would not necessarily have a dry mound. I have a strong belief in mulch for this sort of problem. The issue of wind drying it with so much exposed up slope surface area on a raised bed can be solved, by not allowing the wind to come near the soil. The soil also needs to be deeply burying the wood, so that the moisture retaining humus layer from the rhizosphere can be quickly created with a polyculture, thus holding moisture in the soil before the hugul wood has decomposed enough to be incorporated in the humus profile. Also, the wider your base, and shorter your mound in relation to the base width, will give you more ground contact and less drainage potential, and thus more moisture retention. You will not gain as much solar heat from a lower mound.

I'm glad that you are trying to harvest snow. I live in a snowy place, and would love to maximize the soil moistening potential of the snow. Please keep us posted as your project continues.
 
Robert Reid
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One think I've here on the Canadian Prairies is temporary snow berms to catch snow on the leeward side.
To stop snow drifting onto the highway, the municipal road grader will plow up banks parallel to the road.

My dad made a couple of sections of snow fence on steel frames that he can install and remove easily with a tractor
 
Robert Bodell
Posts: 15
Location: Kasilof Alaska
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elle sagenev wrote:So I've been documenting this in my projects thread "Permaculture food projects in Wyoming" but I find it to be a pretty interesting subject and wonder what other people are doing. There is a lot of talk of gabions and such for catching water in desert areas but what if your main water source is snow? What if you also rarely see snow fall straight down, as the winds reach upwards of 60+ mph regularly. SNIP


I am big on old technology. I can't remember what you cal it but if pile up a huge pile of rocks in the desert they will cool at night and during the day they will produce water with the heat of the day. A waterproof "bowl" under the pile lets you collect the water. There are several of these in Europe that produce water for entire towns still operating after hundreds of years.

I live in Alaska and harvest snow water in the winter. I have a lot of trees around so I have to filter it and I use a few drops of Clorox too just to be safe, but I doubt there is much to hurt you here. The air is pretty clear. next summer I will be harvesting rainwater.

UPDATE: That pile of rocks is called an air well
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