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Permaculture attempt in high desert of California  RSS feed

 
Sam Fel
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Hello all!, I've recently began renting 30 acres in barstow. Looks like it was farmed for alfalfa grass in the past and all soil has been degraded.. What's mostly left is large patches of almost all clay ( which I may use to make a pond) and some sand dunes scattered across the property. Winds get up to 70mph constant with up to 80mph gusts as of last year!! Wow who left the jet engine on!! Winter record low is 10 degrees and summer is 100+ degrees for 3 months.

Here goes, I have established a well which I power on a generator for now.. I have been planting things the last 3 months and this is what I have so far..

Brown Turkish figs, pear tree, goji berries, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, Chinese wisteria vine, weeping willow, sycamore tree,
To establish a windblock, add organic matter, help fix the soil and also as a food and building material I'm planting various types of the phyllostachys bamboo so far I have,
Black bamboo phyllostachys nigra  & Japanese arrow bamboo(which is doing the best so far)
Japanese timber , Incense , golden , yellow shoot, green shoot, golden goddess, Alphonse karr and vivax
All the bamboo are doing well except the golden bamboo it seems to not like the intense sun.

I'm working on getting cats claw,mesquite, white thrones acacia or florida blue palo verde trees or seeds. I'm looking for legume trees to plant to start enriching my soil for my future fruit trees and more bamboo cultivars I plan on planting. I want to turn this patch of desert into a lush food forest and encourage my neighbors to do the same. I'm hoping this bamboo will keep me cooler, block sand storms and clean my soil of toxins as well! 😍
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Nicholas Pulido
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Wow Sam thank you for your post on permies and details about your plans. i live in apple valley ca and this is some of the first permaculture ive come across so close to home. you dont step outside in the high desert everyday and see permaculture designed into the landscape. i hope to see more of your progress and would benefit from your knowledge. Im in my early 20s so im getting all the information i can from the people who have been doing the work for years. thank you. look forward to hearing back.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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That's a super challenging environment, Sam, and I'm thrilled to see someone posting about doing permaculture there.  If you don't have it yet, I recommend growing Spineless Prickly Pear for biomass and also the pads and fruits are edible.  It can be grown as a hedge which might help augment your windbreaks.

I don't recommend you try a pond in that environment, it will evaporate too quickly.  If you want to grow fish or water plants, aquaponics in tanks is probably a better option.  Are you installing rain harvesting earthworks like swales and basins to soak water into the soil?  I imagine the rainfall there is very low but these earthworks are especially important in the desert to capture that small rain.   A good resource:  http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/
 
Nicholas Pulido
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tyler than you for your input as i will paying close attention to permaculture in this area and areas alike. i have a long term outlook or vision for my future and i live in the are now so im learning as i go. anything i could be doing now not having much money and young?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The most important thing in my opinion, which I did not understand enough about when we started working on our place, is to learn about rainwater harvesting.  It's my personal belief that in all environments and especially dry ones, if we repair the watersheds we can reverse much of the damage that people have done to the planet.

Brad Lancaster:  


 
Nicholas Pulido
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i just heard matt powers presentation at the heirloom expo and he mentions him. thank you
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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sepp holzer on water:  
 
Sam Fel
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Tyler Ludens wrote:That's a super challenging environment, Sam, and I'm thrilled to see someone posting about doing permaculture there.  If you don't have it yet, I recommend growing Spineless Prickly Pear for biomass and also the pads and fruits are edible.  It can be grown as a hedge which might help augment your windbreaks.

I don't recommend you try a pond in that environment, it will evaporate too quickly.  If you want to grow fish or water plants, aquaponics in tanks is probably a better option.  Are you installing rain harvesting earthworks like swales and basins to soak water into the soil?  I imagine the rainfall there is very low but these earthworks are especially important in the desert to capture that small rain.   A good resource:  http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

Hi thanks all for the input and ideas! I know the water will evaporate quickly I'm at about 2000 ft above sea level and this only helps the evaporation process. My property is hit by really big flash floods apparently, so big that it also leaves my neighbors property several feet underwater for a month(just going by what I was told) there were semi dug Swales naturally cut into the clay. I simply made these deep, wider and longer and directed as much water as I could to the areas I plan on planting. This seemed to have done wonders as I have only been living here a year and the native growth albeit weeds, Bermuda grass and tumble weeds have made a small forest on the patches of clay. I plan on diverting this water to my future pond and planting bamboo completely encircling it to provide shade, humidity and a microclimate in which I can minimize evaporation. Then once I know my pond will be stable I'll start researching fish!!!
A pond might not seem that easy to create but the work will pay off when the fish saturate my pond with some good nutrients and food for the ground! Not to mention the microbes and biodiversity it will bring to this dry land.
Spineless prickly pear is something I definitely want to want to acquire for windbreak thank you for enlightening me on it! My mom is part Yaqui but born and raised in Los Angeles her whole life maybe she'll teach me to make nopales
Thanks for all you input Tyler! This is a challenging environment and I didn't mention I'm also homesteading on the property. Been living in a canvas tent until I choose my spot to build a house! Here is my pear tree, planted it in April and it's loving it!
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Sam Fel
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Nicholas Pulido wrote:Wow Sam thank you for your post on permies and details about your plans. i live in apple valley ca and this is some of the first permaculture ive come across so close to home. you dont step outside in the high desert everyday and see permaculture designed into the landscape. i hope to see more of your progress and would benefit from your knowledge. Im in my early 20s so im getting all the information i can from the people who have been doing the work for years. thank you. look forward to hearing back.


Hi Nicholas thanks for noticing my post! I didn't think many people cared about plants, food and environment out here in the desert as I seem to always have trespassers on my land under influence of drugs. They seem to think fig trees are mj as well. You remind me of a young me! Lol not really more like a younger me as I am still in my 20's too! I started young at 13 I was into reading about bonsai, grafting plants, Lewis and Clark botany discoveries etc, in short I'm a big nerd!!

Keep researching which I see you are doing already! My advice to you would be start practicing growing things in pots, when I was in college I used to grow asian pears, raspberries, tangelos, grapes, apples, strawberries all in 15g pots except for the strawberries. Although some aspects of growing in pots were easier such as being able to move plants to more favorable places throughout the day it also taught me how much water a plant can transpire based on sun, heat and rh% this also let me establish big root systems in favorable conditions although I sadly did not get to keep those plants they were the beginning to my permaculture adventure!
You could also begin practicing making an earthworm bin start making your own wo castings etc.
practice propogating plants it will be essential to establishing a forest
Invest into seed stock and store it properly and anyone else got any more tips?
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Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Flash floods are a great bonus if you can divert and pacify the water.  We just had a big water diversion structure expanded on our place - we get massive flash flooding every few years that wipes out our driveway and peels the pavement off the road - we hope to divert 1/3 of the water with this structure.  Pics here: https://permies.com/forums/posts/list/120/52613

A really tiny, protected pond like you describe might work.  I would love a pond, but a recent pond-building webinar convinced me it's not worth it in my locale.  I have a little garden pond with a liner, but I don't consider that a "real" pond, just a toy pond. 
 
Sam Fel
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Flash floods are a great bonus if you can divert and pacify the water.  We just had a big water diversion structure expanded on our place - we get massive flash flooding every few years that wipes out our driveway and peels the pavement off the road - we hope to divert 1/3 of the water with this structure.  Pics here: https://permies.com/forums/posts/list/120/52613

A really tiny, protected pond like you describe might work.  I would love a pond, but a recent pond-building webinar convinced me it's not worth it in my locale.  I have a little garden pond with a liner, but I don't consider that a "real" pond, just a toy pond. 


Yea apparently this property flash floods every year due to the high amounts of clay in the area. The bamboo is a reed and will help to detox the water and I also plan I planting other reeds to pacify the water. Also the bamboo helps to protect the watershed and actually increases the water table once it is established. I'm planning on using my bamboo as a pioneer plant. I'm gonna plant it on the south side of my Swales to protect from the hot sun.

Your in Texas right? Here in my area of Cali the water table is really high. I could use my well to water but I prefer not to. I want to have a legitimate ecosystem here that runs completely without assistance. So if I could use the yearly monsoon to fill my pond I think I will be successful, but that's a plan for another time lol right now I'm trying to establish some organic material and microbe diversity into the soil.
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Nicholas Pulido
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well sam if you have anything you need a hand in id gladly volunteer to help the cause.
 
Sam Fel
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Nicholas Pulido wrote:well sam if you have anything you need a hand in id gladly volunteer to help the cause.


Thanks! I actually did need some help if possible. I'm new to the area so I don't really know much about it I'm looking for a local tractor rental place along with a good nursery seems like Home Depot is only place that sells trees here. I been doing all Swales with a pick, shovel, and wheel barrow. Also do you know anywhere near here where oaks grow? I'm looking for acorns to plant. Same for palo verde trees
 
Nicholas Pulido
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here is my email. nicholaspulido48@yahoo.com
 
kevin stewart
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Check craigslist for some of the nurseries that are in the Temecula area.
Just downhill from you.

But how much do you want to invest in land that you are renting?
 
Sam Fel
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kevin stewart wrote:Check craigslist for some of the nurseries that are in the Temecula area.
Just downhill from you.

But how much do you want to invest in land that you are renting?


Temecula is too far over 120 miles and it has a different microclimate their sun isn't as intense and they have much more humidity and natural growth. I lived in temecula before and their winter is not as harsh as well not to mention the wind out here is on another level I'm looking for a native oak closer to me. Thanks for the suggestion tho it's actually where I bought some bamboo which I later found out couldn't survive here due to the cold. Plant went to my moms yard tho! Lol

I have the option of purchasing the Land if I want.. First I have to see if I can make it liveable by breaking that wind
 
kevin stewart
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I understand intense sun.
My place is at 6000 feet, I thought it would be cooler but it's just closer to the sun.
I was thinking they would have mesquite or something similar.

I spent the money on a 20 mil pond liner.
A jack rabbit fell in and gouged a bunch of holes in it before death. There's money well spent.AND I had the pleasure of moving it's waterlogged body.



 
Sam Fel
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they would have mesquite there but I'm looking for seeds right now much cheaper and I can plant many more trees especially if it's a native like mesquite. What I'm really looking for are florida blue palo verde and white thorn acacia, cat claw 😄

Sorry about your pond that's y I'm going to try to clay layer the bottom which I have almost pure clay in some areas.

 
Lori Ziemba
Posts: 145
Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
books chicken dog forest garden greening the desert urban
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Sam Fel wrote:Hello all!, I've recently began renting 30 acres in barstow.


Hi Sam!
This is something that really interests me, as I have considered moving to that area because it is so cheap.  This site has links to several native plant nurseries in your area.  There's Cactusmart in Morongo Valley. Here's another site with 3 high desert nurseries.  This guy is in Joshua Tree.  I wrote to him, and he's a really nice guy.  And of course, you must go visit Garth of Boulder Gardens in Pioneer Town.  His place is fantastic. 

Also, you'll be surprised at all the weird seeds and plants you can find on Ebay.

What you've done so far looks amazing!  I'm really interested in following your progress.  Like I said, this is a place I've considered moving, but the lack of water scares me.  JT gets about 2-5 inches a year.  Much less then even Tucson.  Please tell me more about your well and how you dug it.


 
Sam Fel
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Lori Ziemba wrote:
Sam Fel wrote:Hello all!, I've recently began renting 30 acres in barstow.


Hi Sam!
This is something that really interests me, as I have considered moving to that area because it is so cheap.  This site has links to several native plant nurseries in your area.  There's Cactusmart in Morongo Valley. Here's another site with 3 high desert nurseries.  This guy is in Joshua Tree.  I wrote to him, and he's a really nice guy.  And of course, you must go visit Garth of Boulder Gardens in Pioneer Town.  His place is fantastic. 

Also, you'll be surprised at all the weird seeds and plants you can find on Ebay.

What you've done so far looks amazing!  I'm really interested in following your progress.  Like I said, this is a place I've considered moving, but the lack of water scares me.  JT gets about 2-5 inches a year.  Much less then even Tucson.  Please tell me more about your well and how you dug it.




Hi! Thanks for the nurseries I'm definitely going to stop by them. I didn't dig the well, we hit water at 50 feet, I paid a well company to do the install and drop the pump. I actually use this water as my drinking source as well I've had it tested and although it is slightly alkaline and has a little calcium and magnesium it is otherwise pristine. I think it may have to do with this thick layer of clay and sand that filters the water. It was kind of pricey getting a well dug and piped but definitely worth it as it allows me to stay on my homestead and not go into town for water. I've been doing this cowboy style so I sleep in a canvas tent. Planning in starting on my house in October or November when it cools down more.

I'm quite certain my water column has risen since my arrival, I added lots of Swales painstakingly by hand with a shovel and redirected all the water that simply flash flooded away now sits in my Swales and infiltrates the ground. I plan on mulching the Swales as well and getting pioneer trees on the south side of them.
 
Greg McCain
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Hi Sam Just wanted to make a few suggestions. You might want to add black locust trees to your guild. 
  For your nitrogen fixers and add pomegranate as a fruit tree being it can survive the climate. I think it's admirable that you want to try to do this without irrigation, I think you would be better off with at least drip irrigation or groasis .As long as you plant trees on your swales you would still be benefiting the hydrological cycle as long as you are using less than you are infiltrating. A personal pet peeve of mine is watching permies grow gardens on their swales when it is tree roots that help get water past clay and bedrock (It's a 2 way street) not to mention shade the water from evaporation. THo I can't blame them for wanting to only dig one ditch instead of a ditch and a garden bed.  In any case, Good luck

EDITED by staff: to make youtube link functional {Polk}
 
Sam Fel
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Greg McCain wrote:Hi Sam Just wanted to make a few suggestions. You might want to add Black locust trees to your guild.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du9LeeYX1o8 For your nitrogen fixers and add pomegranate as a fruit tree being it can survive the climate. I think it's admirable that you want to try to do this without irrigation, I think you would be better off with at least drip irrigation or groasis .As long as you plant trees on your swales you would still be benefiting the hydrological cycle as long as you are using less than you are infiltrating. A personal pet peeve of mine is watching permies grow gardens on their swales when it is tree roots that help get water past clay and bedrock (It's a 2 way street) not to mention shade the water from evaporation. THo I can't blame them for wanting to only dig one ditch instead of a ditch and a garden bed.  In any case, Good luck


Thanks for the tips and input. Black locust is one of the original trees I have on my to get list so very good suggestion as were pomegranates.  First I want to establish pioneer trees then I will start on vegetables etc. there is too much wind as type this I'm getting pelted with high winds can't do much work today
 
kevin stewart
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Seeds: if you want to try seeds this year I can send you mesquite from santa ana, juniper from sedona and russian olive from petrified forest.
I have been looking at jacaranda trees and those suckers are fast growing. I am collecting seed pods.
Get in touch for mailing if you want or I can leave a package under a rock at the arco station off the 40 next time I go.

Otherwise I will be collecting another batch this fall for next year.

Of course, the price is that you have to share your progress for all to see.

The palo verde seed pod looked familiar. So cal has lots of public drought resistant trees. I will keep an eye out.

My problem is critters eat everything. Even prickly pear is not so safe.

Several years ago I was hand digging swales and planting a variety of seeds in them. As I continued digging those big ants were carting off all the seeds they could manage.

To get away from the winds I dug a pit greenhouse. Two months ago I wrapped the hydroponic trays with chicken wire to keep out the bunnies and kangaroo rats and successI was immediate.

I used wood rafters but I will try a
pvc hoop style roof this year.(since the pit is about 5 foot deep the roof is just about 2 foot high) the cost of connectors on a hoop house is prohibitive but I think I have an (untested) idea to use none.



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Sam Fel
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kevin stewart wrote:Seeds: if you want to try seeds this year I can send you mesquite from santa ana, juniper from sedona and russian olive from petrified forest.
I have been looking at jacaranda trees and those suckers are fast growing. I am collecting seed pods.
Get in touch for mailing if you want or I can leave a package under a rock at the arco station off the 40 next time I go.

Otherwise I will be collecting another batch this fall for next year.

Of course, the price is that you have to share your progress for all to see.

The palo verde seed pod looked familiar. So cal has lots of public drought resistant trees. I will keep an eye out.

My problem is critters eat everything. Even prickly pear is not so safe.

Several years ago I was hand digging swales and planting a variety of seeds in them. As I continued digging those big ants were carting off all the seeds they could manage.

To get away from the winds I dug a pit greenhouse. Two months ago I wrapped the hydroponic trays with chicken wire to keep out the bunnies and kangaroo rats and successI was immediate.

I used wood rafters but I will try a
pvc hoop style roof this year.(since the pit is about 5 foot deep the roof is just about 2 foot high) the cost of connectors on a hoop house is prohibitive but I think I have an (untested) idea to use none.





Any seeds would be greatly appreciated! My email is coquiboy26@gmail.com. I was actually able to get some honey mesquite seeds and just planted them so I'll have an update soon on how those are doing!

Critters are definetely a problem here as well. I had planted over 75 Hopi blue corn plants in a ditch a dug they were doing so well until the rabbits found them! I even tried staying up all night with a pellet rifle hoping to exchange that plant biomass for some protein but they never came. Every night several more were decimated until now all that remains is the ditch 😔
They also have bee. Attacking my bamboo and grapes.

I have a hoop house where I try to give the plants a health start before going into the wind an elements.

I've also started putting chicken wire and brought it some organic pest control... Kittens! My neighbors were nice enough to give me some kittens! Or mb they just hated hearing me cry about rabbits every morning lol
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C Sanct
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Location: Southern California
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I'm really glad to see a post like this. I live in the Temecula area but have been considering buying cheap acreage in Newberry Springs close to Barstow. When did you leave Temecula? When considering ideas for Newberry Springs my mind went to the Uyghur farmers of Xianjiang Northern China. They live in extreme conditions with only half an inch of rain per year, but their agricultural settlements are a pleasant sight to see amid the the surrounding wasteland. Check out the Turpan region and its agriculture for some possible ideas.

-Desert Poplar Populus euphratica grows in the area. (Could be a good choice for beautiful, fast growing, shade giving, mulch providing, windbreak)
-They depend on using ancient horizontal wells called Qanat or Kerez to gravity feed their fields with water from higher elevation groundwater. (Is your land completely flat or does it have high points?)

Some thoughts I had on working in the area:
-White Sonora Wheat as a drought tolerant landrace heritage grain from our area could be a very helpful annual species to try to bring some cash flow while perennials are establishing.
-Consider establishing desert grasses to keep some constant vegetative cover over the area.
-Bob Dixon's land imprinter seems to do an excellent job of creating the micro-topography/micro-climate needed to get grasses growing in the desert. (Why couldn't this work with wheat as well?)
-Roller crimp the annual grass/grains and plant within the mat to get a no-till widespread sheet mulch system going.

I so badly want to get farming on my own piece of land that despite the downsides, I'm very much considering your region. Maybe renting like you would be a good idea at first. Do you mind sharing your rental costs?
Hope to see updates on your exciting project man. Nice to see other posters residing/considering the area too. Maybe we will eventually become permie neighbors.
 
Sam Fel
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C Sanct wrote:I'm really glad to see a post like this. I live in the Temecula area but have been considering buying cheap acreage in Newberry Springs close to Barstow. When did you leave Temecula? When considering ideas for Newberry Springs my mind went to the Uyghur farmers of Xianjiang Northern China. They live in extreme conditions with only half an inch of rain per year, but their agricultural settlements are a pleasant sight to see amid the the surrounding wasteland. Check out the Turpan region and its agriculture for some possible ideas.

-Desert Poplar Populus euphratica grows in the area. (Could be a good choice for beautiful, fast growing, shade giving, mulch providing, windbreak)
-They depend on using ancient horizontal wells called Qanat or Kerez to gravity feed their fields with water from higher elevation groundwater. (Is your land completely flat or does it have high points?)

Some thoughts I had on working in the area:
-White Sonora Wheat as a drought tolerant landrace heritage grain from our area could be a very helpful annual species to try to bring some cash flow while perennials are establishing.
-Consider establishing desert grasses to keep some constant vegetative cover over the area.
-Bob Dixon's land imprinter seems to do an excellent job of creating the micro-topography/micro-climate needed to get grasses growing in the desert. (Why couldn't this work with wheat as well?)
-Roller crimp the annual grass/grains and plant within the mat to get a no-till widespread sheet mulch system going.

I so badly want to get farming on my own piece of land that despite the downsides, I'm very much considering your region. Maybe renting like you would be a good idea at first. Do you mind sharing your rental costs?
Hope to see updates on your exciting project man. Nice to see other posters residing/considering the area too. Maybe we will eventually become permie neighbors.


Shoot me an email and I can fill ya in on the area and also newberry springs where I almost ended up.

I think my neighbors are using desert poplar as windbreak thanks for identifying it for me! I thought it was tulip poplar. Yea I want that it's actually good wood for carving a kuksa and good for making both a hand drill for friction fires.
 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
pollinator
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Location: Orange County, CA
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Check out this guy for some inspiration.  His Name is Garth and his place is near Joshua Tree, so similar climate as barstow.  He's been doing permaculture out there for about 30 years (I think) and the place is pretty amazing.  I've had the pleasure of visiting his place and it is definitely a great example of high desert permaculture, like an oasis among the boulders of the high desert.

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Anyone brave enough to tackle true desert has my respect.

Here are a couple seed sources I've found helpful:

https://plantsofthesouthwest.com/

http://www.nativeseeds.org/
 
Sam Fel
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Jesse Grimes wrote:Check out this guy for some inspiration.  His Name is Garth and his place is near Joshua Tree, so similar climate as barstow.  He's been doing permaculture out there for about 30 years (I think) and the place is pretty amazing.  I've had the pleasure of visiting his place and it is definitely a great example of high desert permaculture, like an oasis among the boulders of the high desert.



Wow thanks for the vid! Yea there's is similar but not as cold. This property is all flat and no boulders. Wish I had boulders to hold in some heat during the day and keep the nights warmer. When I was in temecula that landscape reminds me of the video landscape. Also the boulders provide some windblock where as I have none
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Can you make berms and kraters to help block wind?  Lots of work to make by hand.  http://peacockorchard.com/2015/03/02/crater-gardens-oh-yes/
 
Sam Fel
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Can you make berms and kraters to help block wind?  Lots of work to make by hand.  http://peacockorchard.com/2015/03/02/crater-gardens-oh-yes/


Yea I've been trying to but days like yesterday where it was constant wind and gusts of excess of 60mph it just smashes the plants with low humidity wind and sand. Sandstorm lasted about 4 hours I took some video with my go pro. I been thinking of doing a walk through of the property as a before video and lay out some of my plans for the property show progress etc. Not sure if people would be interested in seeing the progress.

It also quite hard digging in this clay sometimes the pick bounces off like it's rock and my father has a bad back so pretty much all manual labor is done by me
 
Nicholas Pulido
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I'd be interested to see all the progress you have made. did you take before pictures?
 
Sam Fel
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Nicholas Pulido wrote:I'd be interested to see all the progress you have made. did you take before pictures?


Just went thru my go pro and there are some pictures from March, April and a couple of videos of me doing walk throughs of my transplants. It was actually encouraging to see how much these plants have grown in the last 4 months. It's amazing to see how much progress all the plants have made almost like I was stressing about any die back or stress the plants were showing that I didn't even notice their progress ðŸ˜ģI guess I needed that to revamp me for the last 2 months before winter comes! 

Also my first mesquite seedling just opened up it cotyledon! First time geeminating mesquite and it took longer than I had expected!
 
Jon Snow
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I just bought a small cabin on 5 acres in Johnson Valley, not too far from Barstow. The high desert is AWESOME!!  I'm also looking to plant some native Mesquite trees. There is a nursery that sells plants and trees in Yucca Valley called Unique Garden Center. I have never been there (but will soon) all the locals say this place is the best.  Search for these helpful facebook groups: Joshua Tree Permaculture and Eden Regenerative Design. Here is a pic of my shack, I just bought it 5 months ago.
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Sam Fel
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Jon Snow wrote: I just bought a small cabin on 5 acres in Johnson Valley, not too far from Barstow. The high desert is AWESOME!!  I'm also looking to plant some native Mesquite trees. There is a nursery that sells plants and trees in Yucca Valley called Unique Garden Center. I have never been there (but will soon) all the locals say this place is the best.  Search for these helpful facebook groups: Joshua Tree Permaculture and Eden Regenerative Design. Here is a pic of my shack, I just bought it 5 months ago.


Nice! That's no shack! That's a cabin. I have a Kodak 10'x14' canvas tent with an awning that I live in. Looks like you got some nice boulders on your property gives a more pronounced landscape! Beautiful!

While buying trees from nurseries are great, i prefer starting trees and plants from seed when possible. Don't get me wrong I love buying a new tree. The excitement of choosing one, driving home thinking of where  going to plant it all part of the fun. Also some trees like figs for example are better of being bought from the nurseries as the keep clones of cultivars planting a fig tree is risky business. However, there's just something different about starting with a seed and watching it sprout and grow into a massive tree! I guess it just amazes me that is as a young man can grow things now and live to reap the benefits and see the next generation enjoy a bamboo grove 40-50ft so tall it blocks out the sun and while one is in that grove being in the desert will feel like a distant memory..

Can't wait to see your progress!
 
Jon Snow
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I agree, its fun starting trees from seeds. I planted a bunch of Ponderosa pines from seeds. One morning I checked up on them and they all sprouted! I'm also going to plant some Mesquite trees from seed. Ill just buy a few large Mesquites because I really want some shade as soon as possible. I currently have some Kurrajong trees in my home in LA. They are from Australia and are very drought tolerant. They are also known as bottle trees (Brachychiton populneus). I planted one in my home in LA and seldom water it. Its doing great. I actually killed one by overwatering it. Im going to plant one on my property in the desert. Ill keep you updated.
 
Michael Bushman
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If you can green Barstow, you can green ANYTHING!  

So, a couple of thoughts.   Mimosa trees are fairly drought tolerant and have deep tap roots, they produce a LOT of biomass, feed bees like crazy and fix nitrogen.  They seed prolifically so they have that going for themselves as well.

Also, since you are in Barstow, Fresno is a long drive but the there are underground gardens there that were built for a similar climate and might yield some interesting ideas

FORESTIERE Underground GARDENS



 
Sam Fel
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Michael Bushman wrote:If you can green Barstow, you can green ANYTHING!  

So, a couple of thoughts.   Mimosa trees are fairly drought tolerant and have deep tap roots, they produce a LOT of biomass, feed bees like crazy and fix nitrogen.  They seed prolifically so they have that going for themselves as well.

Also, since you are in Barstow, Fresno is a long drive but the there are underground gardens there that were built for a similar climate and might yield some interesting ideas

FORESTIERE Underground GARDENS





Thanks for the info! Mimosa trees are definitely on my to get list now!! Also that article was interesting I drive past or two Fresno all the time when I'm trucking so mb next time I'll try to stop by and see their garden.

Also big shout out to Kevin who has supplied me with some seeds to make this garden a reality!! Thanks a lot man!
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First mesquite seedling
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Mesquite army amassing
 
Jon Snow
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kevin stewart wrote:Seeds: if you want to try seeds this year I can send you mesquite from santa ana, juniper from sedona and russian olive from petrified forest.
I have been looking at jacaranda trees and those suckers are fast growing. I am collecting seed pods.
Get in touch for mailing if you want or I can leave a package under a rock at the arco station off the 40 next time I go.

Otherwise I will be collecting another batch this fall for next year

Of course, the price is that you have to share your progress for all to see.

The palo verde seed pod looked familiar. So cal has lots of public drought resistant trees. I will keep an eye out.

My problem is critters eat everything. Even prickly pear is not so safe.

Several years ago I was hand digging swales and planting a variety of seeds in them. As I continued digging those big ants were carting off all the seeds they could manage.

To get away from the winds I dug a pit greenhouse. Two months ago I wrapped the hydroponic trays with chicken wire to keep out the bunnies and kangaroo rats and successI was immediate.

I used wood rafters but I will try a
pvc hoop style roof this year.(since the pit is about 5 foot deep the roof is just about 2 foot high) the cost of connectors on a hoop house is prohibitive but I think I have an (untested) idea to use none.





Hey Kevin can I buy some mesquite seeds from you? I tried to send you a private message but I keep getting a error message. My email is jesse977@yahoo.com thanks
 
Marco Banks
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Great thread.  I live southwest of you -- LA county.

I've seen olives and apricots do well in the high desert.  Apricots are surprisingly tough little suckers.  They are drought tolerant and fast growing.  If you can find someone in the area who has an apricot tree that has done well, get as many seeds from him or her as you can, and use them as pioneer species.  Start them in pots, and then get them in the ground as soon as they are viable --- able to stand up to the wind, dry conditions and the many things that will want to munch of them.  You could make a little cage around them with chicken wire until they are established.
 
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