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Casie Becker
garden master
Posts: 1395
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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I'm seeing a lot of discussion about permaculture design on the forum right now. I think there are a lot of people who are permaculturally inclined who aren't at a designing phase yet. They're coming from conventional or no knowledge and trying things out one technique at a time. That doesn't mean they're failing at permaculture, they're learning and developing skills that time and experience will allow them to improve on. I think all of us start at this stage. Most of the time when we hear about it, people are sharing those things they wouldn't have done if they only knew what they know now. What about the times when you only had a little knowledge and accidentally did something that is exactly what would have planned if you knew more.

I have two examples from my garden. First thing I made in my front yard when I bought this house (before the gardens, even) was a walkway between our driveway and the front door. I wasn't thinking about soil building, water infiltration, or lawn health. I just wanted a path that wouldn't turn into a track of mud leading into my house each rain event. So I dug a trench, approx a foot deep, 30 inches across and filled it with ramail wood chips. I simply threw the dirt I moved to the side, and lined the path with cement test cylinders to help keep the chips in place. It's not perfectly level, I'd never heard of swales at the time. Nevertheless, I now have grass growing healthily right against the drying heat island of my driveway, very fine compost continually forming by my front door (occasionally I can dig this up to use and replace with fresh chips) and the cement test cylinders go a long way to keeping grass out of the paths.

I also created an infiltration basin just upslope of my herb garden. That was the third major project in my yard. I wanted to plant something heat tolerant close to the driveway, in the part of the lawn where there weren't even weeds growing. At this point I'd heard of hugelculture, and seen things that suggested you could get similar benefits with buried wood chips. I dug a trench, filled it with ramail wood chips, and recovered it with the existing soil. (don't think it deserves to be called top soil). I stacked a very short stone wall downslope to hold that soil above the wood chips (using rocks from this trench and dug out from my second project, a hugelbet in the back). When it rains now the water pools just above the herb bed until it overflows around the sides. In the meantime a lot of water soaks down into the soil and wood below my growing plants. In this same location where not even weeds would grow, I now have a thriving herb garden which only gets watered if I'm putting in new seedlings during a dry stretch.

I think I've also gone a long way to improving the productivity of my pecan tree, on accident. Because the summer sun is so intense, I've been developing flower/vegetable gardens along the drip line to take advantage of the shade at the edge of the tree. Every year since I've started this we've had bumper crops of pecans. Usually pecan trees have off years, but I think the tree is receiving extra nutrition and water from my garden beds.

I've gone this detailed on purpose. Those of you who have been doing this for a while, can you please contribute some of your experiences where you accidentally excelled beyond your permaculture education? What technique did you accidentally stumble upon, and what was the positive fallout. In a lot of cases I think getting out there and getting started is worth more than a concrete plan. Please help give some encouragement for those people suffering from analysis paralysis.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2294
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
183
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Great examples Casie.

My single greatest accident was not something to repeat. I tried putting in some swales last year to control rain runoff on our south slope, they did exactly as they should, however I had forgotten to fully account for the plume effect.
I am replacing the swales with terracing now and this is working much better for our land.

Trying methods is one of the best ways to understand how mother nature works, failure is the part where you find out what not to do, then you change and find what does work. Each parcel of land is different on our farm I have at least seven different environments, what works in one might not work anywhere else on our property. The only way to know which methods to use for each is trial and error followed by correction. I now have things under better conditions but I still have lots to do before I am anywhere close to completed with the main tasks. Such is farming, things change, and we adjust.

 
Deb Rebel
gardener
Posts: 776
Location: Zone 6b
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I grow in the original dustbowl. We are an extreme microclime, the growzone is only part of it. Part of my active gardening includes windbreaks, tree shade, and 30% shadecloth.

I use steel posts and calf panels, and cut to size tarps with hand set grommets for the earlier times, then grow stuff along those panels that need trellis. They colonize the trellis, fill in, and do double duty. Provide windbreak and food as well. It was observing a chainlink near my tomato patch that got taken over by feral morning glories and Virginia creeper (pox on the landscape! Not QUITE as bad as kudzu) and figured out to multitask the windbreak.

We are so far into the next time zone that during daylight savings, our high noon is almost 2 pm local. So 2-6 pm is our fryer time. My prime tomato patch, I had a junk elm the first year, that gave me that afternoon shade. Made those tomatoes thrive. That tree had to come out though, utility work and they took it down for free (I had to deal with cartage). Trees are your friends when you garden (except oak and black walnut, they have exclusion zones-they give you acorns and walnuts though)
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 311
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
38
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My mother has some good permaculture design and use of permie techniques in her past, about 20 years ago now, from a time when she had literally never heard of permaculture. Our little yard (co-op mobile home park in southern New Hampshire) was oriented east-west and filled with "fill soil" that didn't even sustain grass. She decided to grow gardens and next you knew, we had one of the best examples I've seen in my lifetime of intensively planted polyculture for a suburban lot.

She accidentally made use of vertical stacking by planting strawberries in a raised, stepped structure in the driest, sunniest spot of the yard. She accidentally planted a peach tree, a grape vine and an herb garden in a warm, protected microclimate created by the addition jutting southward from the mobile home - must have stayed some 10* warmer there year round. She accidentally planted blueberries under the pine trees at the back of the lot, with nice acidic soils that picked up a good dose of pine straw mulch each year and some afternoon shade. She accidentally accomplished erosion control with a stone wall and plantings of irises - the stone wall doubled as a heat trap, helping those irises bloom earlier and more prolifically. She, out of love of flowers and beauty, accidentally included numerous insectary and nutrient accumulator plantings in all her beds and gardens, from oregano at the corner of her main crop garden beds to mints around the peach tree. By the time we left that place, there were flowers from early spring through late fall, countless self-seeding annuals interplanted with perennials, and literally tens of pounds of production occurring monthly throughout the growing season. Neighbors received baskets of peaches, tomatoes and runners from the strawberries. The place hummed with the bees and hummingbirds, rare and bashful birds like bluebirds, goldfinch, cardinals and orioles were regulars, and that little lot that wouldn't even grow grass was a lush shade of green mixed with every color of the rainbow. It became the envy of the neighborhood. Neighbors even started planting fruit trees and gardens of their own!

She "did permaculture" without ever knowing about it. Guess you could call it "intuitive gardening" That's definitely what sent me down this path, years later, in such a big way. And because she's already somewhat of an expert on making this kind of thing happen (single mother working sometimes 50 hours a week accomplished all this in under 10 years), she's now here with me helping with making this place a permaculture eden.

Accidental permaculture....it happens if you let it
 
Marco Banks
Posts: 495
Location: Los Angeles, CA
41
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Sixteen years ago, when we first moved into our place, the backyard (about a third of an acre) was just bad grass and couple of old trees. I planted 3 queen palms in a triangle out on that grass, about 12 feet apart, to give some shade to the pool in the hottest part of the day. They thrived in that location, and quickly shot up.

After 10 years, my 20 foot extension ladder was not sufficient for me to reach up high enough to trim off the palm branches that would die and would look messy, hanging down against the side of the trunk. Further, they can be really messy trees, dropping seeds all over for half the year, and in my case, all over the pool deck and into the water.

So I cut all three down and dropped them onto the yard. THUMP. The trunks were easy enough to cut up, but they were about 18 inches across --- almost 2 feet across at the base. These were BIG thick palm trees. I used the wood for a big hugelbed and laid the palm branches down as mulch throughout the orchard.

What I didn't expect was that the root network of those palm trees was so extensive, it reached 30 feet in every direction from the trees. Palm trees grow a massive net of roots so that they can grab onto sand (as on a beach) and anchor themselves against storms. Into that network of thin little roots, a fungal network took off.

Today, five years later, in the spring when it rains, I still get hundreds of mushrooms popping up throughout that old palm root web. In that space, I now have a cherimoya, two aprium trees, a persimmon, a nectaplum, and a couple of peaches. It is absolutely crazy how well those other trees have taken root and grown, growing as they are in the midst of all those old palm roots and the fungal network that colonized it. There is a thick layer of wood chips mulching that whole area, but underneath, when I dig down, I can still find those old palm roots and see the fine white fibers of the mycelium running throughout the soil.

I've often wondered about using queen palms (or just those cheap Mexican fan palms that volunteer all over --- you see them growing along railroad tracks where nothing else will grow) as pioneer species to condition a plot of land and get it ready for other trees. You could plant a bunch of them, let them do their thing and establish a big root network, and then 5 years later, cut them down and plant your orchard or food forest.

Anyhow, that was a happy accident that continues to give life to my food forest.
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 174
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:

My single greatest accident was not something to repeat. I tried putting in some swales last year to control rain runoff on our south slope, they did exactly as they should, however I had forgotten to fully account for the plume effect.
I am replacing the swales with terracing now and this is working much better for our land.



Hello Bryant,

Could you please expand a bit on the plume effect that you experienced with your swales?

I'm asking because I have swales on my sloping plot, and they have been performing very well (since Oct 2013 when they were created), but I don't know what I can / should expect of them in the future. I'm not sure if it's pure coincidence (e.g., a wetter winter / spring season than in previous years), but now it seems that the soil stays much wetter for much longer downslope from each swale.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9693
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think figuring it out as we go along is a design process. I just wish I'd had the information about design that's available now, when I started. The most important design change I've made is to move the kitchen garden from an exposed position in front of the house, where it died every summer, to right outside the kitchen door, where it's been thriving. If I'd known more about zones I'd have done things differently; I would have put everything closer to the house. Also I would have made fewer permanent fences and buildings.

I can't actually think of any happy accidents I've had.

 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 311
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
38
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
I can't actually think of any happy accidents I've had.


Well, that's just plain sad

With the brittleness of your climate, though, I can definitely see where careful thought and planning needs to go into every little change. Even something as simple as placement of a rock in a garden will inevitably have a huge impact there. Perhaps the elusive "happy accident" is a luxury we take for granted.

 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1257
Location: Denver, CO
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Yes, I think Tyler's climate is one of the most extreme represented here on permies! I'm not as bad, but even here, any disturbance to the ground takes a long time to recover. So projects don't generally have accidental good results.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9693
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
176
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No, no! People in true deserts have it much harder than I have! I just have a really brown thumb...
 
Deb Rebel
gardener
Posts: 776
Location: Zone 6b
85
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Tyler Ludens wrote:No, no! People in true deserts have it much harder than I have! I just have a really brown thumb...


It's said you have to have a black thumb (or in the case of some of Texas an orangish tan thumb) before you get a green thumb. Black from playing in your dirt, gardening.
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 311
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
38
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I just have a really brown thumb...


Oh the modesty! If you came up here to Maine, for example, and started doing your thing, you'd put a lot of us to shame with all the skills you've gained working with such a harsh climate. Up here, you can basically just throw seeds on the ground, put a few bare root trees and bushes in, and in 7 years, you've got "permaculture". I know my own "successes" up here are 99.9% or more mother nature and maybe up to about .1% my "green thumb". When I was trying to grow in even central Florida, I was lucky to get a tomato or two and a few sweet potatoes and that in pots with store bought soil each season!

 
Steve Simons
Posts: 29
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Well there was the time that we went to plant the arugula in the planter garden but spilled half the seeds on the patio. We didn't think much about it until a few weeks later we noticed that there was lush arugula growing between the cracks of the patio brick. In fact it put the garden arugula to shame by a long shot. We figured that each brick was harvesting water and smothering the competition thus giving a huge advantage to the arugula in the cracks. It's been my favourite happy little accident so far and I'm trying to replicate the situation in a small brick covered spill way that I've made.
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 93
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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Levente Andras wrote:
Bryant RedHawk wrote:

My single greatest accident was not something to repeat. I tried putting in some swales last year to control rain runoff on our south slope, they did exactly as they should, however I had forgotten to fully account for the plume effect.
I am replacing the swales with terracing now and this is working much better for our land.



Hello Bryant,

Could you please expand a bit on the plume effect that you experienced with your swales?

I'm asking because I have swales on my sloping plot, and they have been performing very well (since Oct 2013 when they were created), but I don't know what I can / should expect of them in the future. I'm not sure if it's pure coincidence (e.g., a wetter winter / spring season than in previous years), but now it seems that the soil stays much wetter for much longer downslope from each swale.


Could someone please explain the "plume effect" that Bryant mentioned? I plan on using swales in the future and this is a new term for me. Any help would be appreciated!
 
Candes King-Meisenheimer
Posts: 8
Location: Chino Valley, AZ (Home of Mother Nature's Menopause)
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Steve Simons wrote:Well there was the time that we went to plant the arugula in the planter garden but spilled half the seeds on the patio. We didn't think much about it until a few weeks later we noticed that there was lush arugula growing between the cracks of the patio brick. In fact it put the garden arugula to shame by a long shot. We figured that each brick was harvesting water and smothering the competition thus giving a huge advantage to the arugula in the cracks. It's been my favourite happy little accident so far and I'm trying to replicate the situation in a small brick covered spill way that I've made.


My family has been growing arugula for 40 years. Arugula prefers "bad" soil over "good" soil. We use it as the main scatter for our controlled fallows and initial ground breaking (We "break ground" by staging in different kinds of plants over a 3 year period instead of tilling the clay and rocks beneath our feet). It grows fast, requires little water once going, and turns into excellent soil when chopped and used as mulch or green manure. It's awesome at acting as weed suppressant when grown in thickets you don't want to have to worry about.

And it's tasty. So are the raw seeds.

I sow arugula in the early fall to hold gardens together during the winter, and to have something fresh to eat when there's snow on the ground. Yes, it's grows in snow. It's really funny to see half a foot of snow on the ground with a ribbon of lush green popping right up out of it along contour lines and pathway edges.

The more food you give it, or the better the soil it's gown in, the smaller the leaves will be and the faster it will go to bolt. It likes clayous soil and turns bitter when you feed it iron. For a more mild flavor water it more. For a more spicey flavor water it less. If you want to harvest the seeds tie the groupings up with twine or wire when the flowers fall off and the pods start getting bigger (or it will fall over). Pull or chop the plants when the leaves are halfway through falling off and hang to dry. You can leave them in-ground until completely brittle, but you'll loose half the seed to the wind and wind up with arugula in your driveway.

 
Spud Smith
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I was building some raised beds for my sister this early spring.
I pulled out of the local big box, well, Lowes, besides a truck filled with tree and limb chips, towing a chipper.
I followed it until I could ask the driver where I could get access to a truck load of his chips.
Turns out that all I had to do is put my name in with a couple of the local guvmnt agencies and we had a load of chips.|

The grass and soil was removed about 6" in the bottom of the beds. We then filled that 6" with the wood chips" AND
I had my sister add about 2 cups of nitrogen on top of the wood chips before filling with soil.
I had read a report that if I use wood without adding the nitrogen, it will draw the nitrogen from the soil to decompose
the wood.

The wood chips below the soil will absorb moisture and some nutrients, giving them back to the plants in the beds above.
I guess I would say it was my attempt at hugelkultur.
 
Andrew Morse
Posts: 58
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I've had so many happy accidents. Even permaculture design is taken from thousands of years of global knowledge gained through happy accidents.

I've been communicating with Konstantinos in Greece through this thread and have discussed many happy accidents in his attempt to reforest the northern part of his country. http://permies.com/forums/posts/list/360/14353?OWASP_CSRFTOKEN=WNVR-W20L-8H51-ROKZ-ZMG6-4RR2-1CP0-PGWQ#468744

My favorite of my own is a true accident... Where I bought the land. I knew of many good attributes when I bought, but the one thing I couldn't know is that the national forest behind me was leased by cattle ranchers on a 99 year deal. In addition to fertility from the natural pasture fed cattle washing down the seasonal creek right through a corner of the property, there is a sub-lease to a bee keeping business with maybe 50-100 hives about a mile away. In addition to that the property across the street was at one time used for bee keeping as well and many hives have continued to thrive long after human care has ceased. I have bees buzzing all season and huge swarms in spring. I'm looking to brush up on my bee knowledge and plant some bait hives before next year's swarms.

Another is when I accidentally collected tadpoles from the Creek when I needed water and now I have some growing tadpoles and a small frog community in my garden. Who doesn't love frogs??

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Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2294
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
183
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Jon La Foy wrote:
Levente Andras wrote:
Bryant RedHawk wrote:

My single greatest accident was not something to repeat. I tried putting in some swales last year to control rain runoff on our south slope, they did exactly as they should, however I had forgotten to fully account for the plume effect.
I am replacing the swales with terracing now and this is working much better for our land.



Hello Bryant,

Could you please expand a bit on the plume effect that you experienced with your swales?

I'm asking because I have swales on my sloping plot, and they have been performing very well (since Oct 2013 when they were created), but I don't know what I can / should expect of them in the future. I'm not sure if it's pure coincidence (e.g., a wetter winter / spring season than in previous years), but now it seems that the soil stays much wetter for much longer downslope from each swale.


Could someone please explain the "plume effect" that Bryant mentioned? I plan on using swales in the future and this is a new term for me. Any help would be appreciated!


When you create swales they hold water until it can soak into the ground. As the soil - held water increases it moves down the hill undergrouond (plume effect) so the ground below the swale becomes wetter.
In your post (above) you mention that your "soil is now much wetter, for much longer downslope from each swale" That is the result of the plume effect.
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 174
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:
Jon La Foy wrote:
Levente Andras wrote:
Bryant RedHawk wrote:

My single greatest accident was not something to repeat. I tried putting in some swales last year to control rain runoff on our south slope, they did exactly as they should, however I had forgotten to fully account for the plume effect.
I am replacing the swales with terracing now and this is working much better for our land.



Hello Bryant,

Could you please expand a bit on the plume effect that you experienced with your swales?

I'm asking because I have swales on my sloping plot, and they have been performing very well (since Oct 2013 when they were created), but I don't know what I can / should expect of them in the future. I'm not sure if it's pure coincidence (e.g., a wetter winter / spring season than in previous years), but now it seems that the soil stays much wetter for much longer downslope from each swale.


Could someone please explain the "plume effect" that Bryant mentioned? I plan on using swales in the future and this is a new term for me. Any help would be appreciated!


When you create swales they hold water until it can soak into the ground. As the soil - held water increases it moves down the hill undergrouond (plume effect) so the ground below the swale becomes wetter.
In your post (above) you mention that your "soil is now much wetter, for much longer downslope from each swale" That is the result of the plume effect.


Yes, that's clear - but what happened to make you want to replace the swales? I would have thought that the plume effect was (in most cases) a good / desirable thing. It sounds like it wasn't such a positive thing in your case. That's what I was hoping you could expand upon.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2294
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
183
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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hau Levente, Initially my problem was runoff getting on my 400 foot up hill driveway, the runoff was enough to erode the dirt drive so much it became a 4 wheel drive event to go up and down.

I dug 4 swales up hill from the road, they worked great for catching the runoff water and keeping it away from the driveway. Unfortunately, the resulting plume became spring right at the road.
A spring on your land is a great thing to have, unless the flow of water from that spring takes away what you want to keep (my driveway).
I inadvertently created the spring by putting in the swales, lesson learned. I put all the soil back, so now no berms or swales to feed the spring I created.
I do have land on the other side of my driveway that will get swales when I start to work on that acreage, the new spring that will form there won't be unwanted.

The area that had swales is now being terraced for additions to my vineyard and to create a nice walk path to the vineyard and vines.
I am in the process of putting in an up hill ditch beside the road, then I have to fill in the gullies in the road, re-crown it and those two things should let me get the driveway in good enough shape for stabilizing gravel to be used for the drive surface.
From that point, it will just be maintaining the ditch and road surface so erosion is no longer such a huge issue.

On the one hand, If I had not created the swales, I would not have educated myself as much on road building/ maintaining as I have now done. I also would not have known my land can support a spring created by the water plume effect that swales create.
I also would not have known just how well the plume effect works. (I think I could build a "spring fed" pond that remains full year round from the evidence from the swale mishap).
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 174
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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Thanks, Bryant !

Your experience does sound like an interesting lesson about how swales work.

I myself am learning my own lessons. I have 4 swales that hold back rainwater / surface runoff which would otherwise flood the downslope area where I'm planning to build my house. Over the past 2 years, they have been filling up to the brim each time we had a more significant rain event.

Thing is, the plume effect is real, and during wet periods, this effect becomes noticeable a good 30 metres or more downslope from the lowest swale, which includes the site of the future house.

I have already installed a French drain in an inverted "U" shape around the house area at a depth of about 1 metre, and I also intend to direct the water from the swales sideways and into an infiltration bed that will feed into my well. All this in order to drastically reduce the plume that would otherwise form above the house.

 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2294
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
183
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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Yes, the plume effect can be catastrophic if you don't plan for it.

In my case, I knew about the plume effect but thought that it would not be so large.
Now I know how effective the combination of swales and the resultant plume can be.
It actually opens up a whole new set of plants I can take advantage of once I am at the point of being able to start on the next part of our acreage.
By using swales there, I can set up an area to grow wasabi and other water lovers.
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 93
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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When I first read this post, I thought I had no happy accidents to discuss. But today, why talking about some work I have done on my land, I reminded myself of something I accidentally did.

Some time last year, my wife and in-laws and I dug a pond by hand tools on our property in central Texas. It was back breaking work, but by the time we finished it would hold approximately 15,000 gallons of water... if it held water. The soil has a slight amount of clay, but there is also a bunch of limestone rocks in the soil. We pulled out what rocks we could but it still didn't work. Somewhere I had read that ash from trees act like clay and would help seal ponds. In fact, the post I read was by a man from central Texas and he praised the use of cedar ash. We have plenty of cedar, actually it's Ashe Juniper ironically, around central Texas and had about two acres worth on our property. We wanted to clear it for fruit trees anyway so we began doing so, again using hand tools. We saved all of the logs and large branches (later used for fencing and a log cabin for our chickens) and we burned all of the smaller branches with leaves in the pond. Unfortunately, it didn't amount to much ash, about 4 inches in the deepest parts. Towards the end of clearing the trees, we piled some into the hole but didn't burn it due to a fire ban in the county. We left it and never got back to it. Then, a few months later after some rain, I go to our pond and look inside, and there's moisture in the bottom, and moss! I had even seen a deer track in the ash-clay. I had read somewhere, here on permies.com, about letting plants build clay on their own, so I was pretty excited about the moss and I could tell it held onto the water. Now, months later, my wife tells me that there is all kinds of moss and lots of deer tracks. I'm not at my house, thanks to my job sending me to places months at a time, and my wife isn't either, since she is visiting family during my absence. But last time she was there, she explained that there was some residual water (it hadn't rained in a few weeks) and, again, lots of animal tracks. Considering there are tracks in there, there must have been enough water at some point. The moss seems to be retaining the moisture, and providing a type of seal for the water. All because I left some branches which acted as shade, mainly because we had gotten lazy about it! Happy Accidents!!
 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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I'm so happy to see so many great experiences here. Hearing about your experiences (Bryant and Jon) with water capture has actually given me some motivation. There's a spot near the lower side of my yard that I keep thinking should be a pond. Not by permaculture planning standards which would dictate a pond upslope, it's just a relatively low spot that wants to be a pond (sometimes I'm a little hippie dippie )

I'm going to keep an eye on it as I finish my swales upslope. If it develops into a damp spot, I think I'll try digging digging down and seeing if the plume effect could cause that to develop further into a natural seep that could sustain a pond.
 
Jessie Twinn
Posts: 21
Location: Central Highlands, Victoria Australia
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My happy accident was a little one but well noted for future planning. When we put in our hen house I planted some Feverfew plants around the outside to pretty it up. About 12 months later I noticed my hens all dust bathed up against that edge of the hen run. I then did some research and discovered Feverfew is a member of the pyrethrum family and was quite likely keeping away the flies and discouraging mites etc when then had their dust baths. Dust plus pyrethrum made for happy hens.
 
Steve Simons
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Candes King-Meisenheimer thank you for sharing your arugula experiences. This is what I love about permies (& the internet in general)... where else would I get to learn from people thousands of miles away sharing their real life observations and experiences about something seemingly obscure as arugula?
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1286
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Grapes with seeds disappointed my family.They are used to seedless grapes.Afterb1 Bumper Crop we had to deal with neighbors who cut all of the grapes on their side of the fence. My wife insisted we put up a privacy fence and in that process we lost those plants,at least they haven't come back,yet however there are several volunteers around the yard. I expect more grapes in just a few years and the family will learn to love jelly juice and wine

Forage radishes come cheap and in bulk and I figured what's the big deal I'm sure they're great for humans as well. Well even after slow roasting them they're still too hot to enjoy. Pickling them makes them edible butt the process isn't worth the results. The good news is that they self sow,the seed pods are prolific and delicious and the greens are even better.

Pet bunnies. After 2 years I gave in to my daughter's request 4 a pet bunny. Soon after that my son got himself a bunny. That's what I discovered that getting bunnies fixed is ridiculously expensive. But the bunnies have turned out to be great gardening partners. They eat all kinds of greens and turn them into excellent fertilizer. I am currently growing sweet corn in buckets filled with Bunny poop.

Mulberries. There was something growing in my black raspberry patch. I kept meaning to put it down or perhaps identify it. Once it got to be 9 feet tall things started to seem urgent. Turns out it was a mulberry tree. Not only that but one of the aforementioned volunteer grape plant seems to love the Mulberry branches.
 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Haven't added to this topic in a while. But, my pecan tree is occasionally victim of it's own success. When it grows too fast it sometimes loses a limb to the weight of it's own leaves. We lost a major one (probably 12 inches around) late this spring.

This particular branch provided full summer shade on one of the flowerbeds lining the front of the house. Now, instead of a sheltered bed that is only productive in winter, we have a year round bed that has afternoon shade in the summer. I've been maintaining a thick leaf mulch over it all this time, so I'm really looking forward to planting it next season.

Oh yeah, I also want to add that it greatly reduces the squirrel highway that carries off so many pecans each year. Maybe we'll get more than twenty pounds
 
Casie Becker
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I have a couple of tiny frustrations that have been ongoing in my front garden.

One is that I don't have a good oregano harvest. The one that does best in my garden of the two varieties I planted just doesn't have much flavor and the other one never really took off.

The other one is the flower bed which greets me by my front door only has interest in the early part of the year, when the iris bloom. There's an unplanted corner in the front of that bad which I try to plant a blooming annual in every season. Not ever year, every season. Not one has taken well enough to rebloom after planting. There's just that persistent dead corner right in front of my main entrance.

So, some oregano volunteered in the rock border earlier this year. Yes, in the border, in a hole in a rock. It's got flavor just like the one I planted that never took off. Great, so I left it alone. Didn't really expect much of it but didn't want to kill it by harvesting such a small plant. Cue today when weeding grass near it (the grass is the weed) I realized it's sent runners into that bare front corner where I've never been able to establish a plant. They seem to be rooting just fine.

So, soon I will not have that bare corner. Additionally I will have enough flavorful oregano to use. And finally, I actually like the tiny little flowers oregano produces and they don't bloom at the same time as iris.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Oregano flowers are also usable as seasoning Cassie, so you get a threefer there, oregano leaves, beautiful flowers and the second use with extra flowers for a nice finishing touch to special dishes.

The grass going into the bare spot will be great, it will condition the soil once it becomes established well. Grass is also good for sucking up what ever poisons are in that bare spot (if any)
Grass can also help reduce salt content in soil. We have an area that is being remediated by grasses, it was all clay but since we removed the volunteer trees, the grass started growing and I've been using our mower in mulch mode.
The results so far, the humus content of that area has gone from 0.5% to 3.5% in two years just from using the mulch mode with the mower. (voles now love that area and for now they can live there and be happy)

In a couple of more years we plan to use that area for our large greenhouse.

Our oregano seems to prefer dappled sunlight in the morning and full shade for the afternoons.
Don't forget you can always use pots to grow herbs in, we moved ours around until we found the spot each really preferred and now they all have permanent homes.

Redhawk
 
Kate Muller
Posts: 193
Location: New Hampshire
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I planted ever bearing strawberries and high bush blueberries in front of the house and the strawberries struggled for 2 years with a nice layer of mulch hay.  We needed to reduce our watering needs due to a severe drought in the area this year. Normally we get enough rain that we don't to irrigate at all as long as the plants have a little mulch to suppress weeds.

I figured we would have to sacrifice the remaining strawberry plants when we heavily mulched the blueberries with wood chips.  Not only did the blueberries love the wood chip mulch but the strawberries are thriving.  They have produced the biggest and tastiest strawberries so far and have out produced the same strawberries in another bed that received grass clippings and mulch hay.  We will be using wood chips instead to mulch all our strawberries  from now on.
 
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