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My carbon farming plan above my existing garden.

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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Hi all.

I feel extremely fortunate to have the property that I do. Up-slope from the garden that I have established, I am going to attempt to create a large volume of carbon storage, using trees in a number of different ways. In the area in question, there are a number of coniferous trees growing (between the ages of 2 years and 30 years, as well as deciduous varieties in the same age stages, as well as clonal clusters of poplars and cottonwoods from older trees nearby. This is all in a 100 year old feral meadow, after a fire cleared some of it and homesteaders did the rest. When I dig into the ground, there is a layer of char around 4 to 8 inches down variably.
I will list the methods that I plan to use or if I have started, what I have done, and later some details on the plans with them for the future.
Methods:
1.)Hugulkultur: Not yet implemented.
2.)Tree planting/perennial planting: started with some natives around the existing trees and planted lovage and rhubarb today.
3.)Chop and drop (not yet implemented).
4.)Biochar: None in the section yet, but will be adding some to composts to be spread on the surface and mulched.
5.)Mulch: Around native plants that I transplanted as well as lovage and rhubarb
6.)Compost: Hauled three truckloads of winter bedding certified organic horse manure to my land yesterday and today, added some around the rhubarb and lovage.


1.) My plans with the hugulkultur is to do most of it above grade, thus facilitating more microclimates and moisture in the upper soil horizons. I'm planning the huguls do act either as frost deflectors or sun catchers or both. Either way, stores woody material in the soil for the shrt term, and over the long term deposits of carbon from fungal and microbial activities in the form of carbon rich humus. With the hugulkultur, I'm hoping to gather a large volume of cottonwood and poplar from a man who is madly cutting it down on his property nearby 1.5 km away (which is close in terms of this big valley). I'm not sure how to approach the situation, as he might think that it's a good idea to sell it to me if I'm too eager. There is a possibility also of using some charred wood that was not completely burned in forestry slash piles for longer term storage of carbon directly in the form of wood.

2.) Tree planting/perennials. and 3.) Chop and Drop. The more woody rooted, or perennially rooted plants in the area, the more carbon will be in the soil on a fairly long term basis. The longer term plan, beginning soon this year, will be the planting of way more trees in this area, and eventually replacing some of the existing trees with native and domestic food providers as well as nitrogen fixers like alders. On a longer term basis, the plan is to utilize some of the alders as a chop and drop trees, stripping branches and laying them down for mulch. I'm hoping that this will also help with shedding additional nitrogen from the roots and make space for the growing food forest. Some of the alders will not be touched. Many of the existing trees, specifically conifers, will be also chopped and dropped and eventually replaced by the fruit tree, shrubs or perennials and nitrogen fixers that they are (or will be) nursing. The existing root systems/stumps will not be taken out of the system, but chopped and left to compost in place.

4.) Other parts of the property will be utilized for the creation of Biochar. I have a small retort that I will use to cook on and to create some char to be added around plants, probably on the south side (as I live in a place that could use all the heat it can get, and the darker soil surface will enable things to warm up faster in the spring). I was also thinking that some char thrown on the snow might be a good way to facilitate thawing in late spring. Future plans include a larger retort that also is a heating unit for my shop.

5.) Made friends with the local arborist, and plan to put a sign up on the road directing people (tree trimming companies hired for cutting trees under power lines mostly) to dump wood mulch. I have had one load delivered. The arborist does not do a lot of work in my rural area, but does work in the towns (villages really) a lot, and he said that if he is going by, he would dump at my place. I use hay mulch on my gardens, and this has many benefits, but the main problems have been slugs and voles.

6.) Compost/ Compost Tea/ Shredders/Chips continued: Plans are to build or buy a shredding device to make massive wood based compost systems, possibly mixed with manure. I really like all the ideas presented by Jean Pain, and would love to have the compost system heat my home/shop, and maybe power my vehicles. Compost will be added on the surface near all plants to facilitate soil organic matter. Actively Aerated Compost teas will be created to spray the soil surface and plants. Purchased a backpack sprayer for this purpose at a yard sale last year. Need to get a high powered pump to blow air for making high quality AACT or figure out vortex system for oxygenation.

Thats all I can think of before I head over to Eric's website and check out more ideas.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


 
Eric Toensmeier
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Sounds like a great plan send us photos!
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Posts: 913
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
64
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Thanks Eric. Yes, we will be taking photos. At this point I do have some of the existing garden, which was rotovated to break the sod up, but have now been no-till for more than two years with no intention of tilling again. This garden was mulched heavily with hay, and is thriving with worms and other soil life.



 
Roberto pokachinni
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Posts: 913
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
64
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
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In addition to the above mentioned plans, I will be creating the rest of the upper garden without tilling. I will, however, be digging holes in the sod, and importing material (soil/woody debris/plants/manure/tree cuttings/wood chips/hay... to the site. Plans to develop the forest garden area this year include clusters of potato mounds, and squash family plots.

One thing that I didn't mention about my transplanting of the Saskatoon (amelanchier alnifolia) and other bushes is that I dug up the sod, but placed the sod pieces on top of the existing sod on the downhill side of the transplant right-side-up to live again but to create micro terraces/swales that will naturally catch debris and moisture for the transplants. All the exposed soil on the edges of the sod bits and around the transplants was covered immediately with woody mulch to preserve microbial, fungal, and plant life. Although the sod will regrow, my intention is to slowly transform more and more of this space to plants like strawberry, comfrey, garlic, and edible lilies.

With the potatoes I will mow the sod down to the base of the greens, and leaving it in place, and water it heavily after punching it with holes with the spade fork. Then I will lay cardboard to help smother the hawkweed, daisies, and meadow grasses. An X cut into the cardbard will allow a place that I can insert a bulb planter, or hand spade, to take a little chunk of sod out, and put potato in, as well as provide a place for the potato to emerge. The sod can find a home elsewhere; maybe under a spruce tree, or buried in the hugulkultur. I will import soil to mound on top of the potato. I used straw mulch last year instead of soil, but despite the thriving potato plants and abundant harvest, the voles infested my potato patch and did a lot of damage to the spuds.

I'm planning to do something similar with the squash family plants, but I will be spade digging considerably larger holes (probably two feet deep) and will be filling them three quarters full of manure (for nutrients and heat), and mounding any plant free top soil and sub soil on top (to protect the seedlings from the manure in it's earlier hot stages), and planted heavily first with field peas and mulched with hay as they come up. The peas will be chop and dropped when the squash gets inserted so that the squash gets a head start. The sod from the hole will be removed for embedding in the hugulkultur beds. The area surround the hole will be mowed and treated the way the sod was with the potato plots.

In this way, I am hoping to build deep soil and and somewhat random hills of microclimates, while growing food.

Although the orientation of my transplants was based around the nursery conifers, my intention is to figure out ways to build the forest garden out of a series of small contour beds, using my A-frame level. [I tried to use the plumb bob method but found that a four foot carpenters level on the A-frame was much better for my windy in the spring climate when I laid out my existing garden]. Before any of the squash beds or potato areas are plotted out, I will develop this plan and lay it out with stakes. Probably this Sunday. All walkways between these beds will eventually be mowed low, punched with a spade fork to loosen/aerate, and to provide water penetration, watered heavily, laid out with cardboard, and mulched with wood chips to suppress unwanted growth and hold moisture.



 
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