H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I don't agree with the invasive species part,
Wow buddy, way to be abrasive. The scars of great ideas dot the landscape out there. Truth is, with out perfect attention to the place you are much more likely to make a sand and weed wasteland. it is not a wasteland at all now and people come from all over the world to enjoy the wilderness and wonder at the vistas.
This wasn't exactly the thread I was searching for, and sorry to resurrect the dead without a license, but I found it nevertheless... and hearing recently about the drought you Texans are in, it seemed an appropriate place to post.
I don't understand the mentality of NOT wanting to use bulldozers and earthworks. The desert is not some aboriginal pristine landscape. It is a damaged, eroded wreck in desperate need of repair. Most of the American southwest was grass and forest before the introduction of cattle and logging grazed it to nothing. We aren't destroying a desert here; we're trying to fix what used to be.
Your opinion, albeit stong is just over blown ego not based on anything but a guess on your part.
Second, by doing NOTHING, the landscape will continue to erode and lose soil downstream. You can't "preserve" an arid, actively eroding landscape by twiddling your thumbs and letting the cacti mulch themselves. Extreme landscapes call for extreme restorative efforts. More plants less erosion without the earthworks. Aiding in the establishment of these is a whole hell of alot easier and probably more benificial than ripping the land up. you would end up with a bunch of tumbleweed and sand.
Nor will it repair itself -- it will inevitably end up something like the Sahara, which, to the best of my knowledge, hasn't done much to repair itself in human history. Nor will it... and at the rate humans are now desertifying the rest of the planet, "protecting pristine desert landscapes" will soon leave this planet looking like the surface of the moon. (The Lebanese are still waiting for those darn cedar forests to regrow themselves....) It is nothing like the sahara and will only end up looking that way if you run a dozer over it. Nothing you are saying is based on anything factual, just a bunch opinion
This means calling in our friend Mr Bulldozer, cutting enormous swales, and planting highly invasive species. Ponds were mentioned... but they're a bad idea in a place like pictured, with 10" of rain. Evaporation will suck any pond dry in a hurry. You want soakage.
And, if we want Texas not to dry up and blow away every 50 years, this needs to be done on a very large scale.
Unless anyone thinks getting Guv'ner Perry and his preacher boys to cure the gays and pray for rain will achieve better results....
I'm new here at the permies forum (hi folks), if O is still around, your TX land is similar to mine in s.e AZ. Your elevation appears to be about 3300' (mine is 4000') and the plants look like what we have here. We're not as hilly but do have elevation changes.
First off, with that much steep ground, watch your roads and the runoff from them. That is a HUGE issue in desert regions where the undersoils are rock-covered caliche / granite outcroppings / gypsum silts. I disagree with the DirtSurgeon that we have to get busy with heavy equipment or the desert southwest will become the Sahara. One disturbed swath of ground on a slope can disrupt a lot of watershed, making for a long battle between you and the seasonal rains if you are trying to get in and out on a regular basis. That's been our biggest problem. As others moved in farther up the watershed, the erosion intensified on our own land.
Like so many folks, we thought water catchment meant damming the washes--not so. It's counter-intuitive--starting at the highest points and catching the water before it gets to the washes. It takes a lot of observing and mapping to put together a good, doable plan for your site. Definitely get Brad Lancaster's books-- he's in Tucson and you can google his website.
Trying to garden on raw land in the desert southwest is sooo much harder than anyplace I've ever lived--I've given up repeatedly, overwhelmed by some new problem that depletes my time and resources. To grow something edible is absolutely mind-bending. I'm not a newbie to permaculture or gardening, but I have yet to grow enough food to feed my family here. I've spent hundreds on carefully-selected trees, shrubs, vines, plants, seeds, omg. 98% succumbed to one thing or another despite my best efforts. I did plant some 'invasive species' and they are doing okay... but they're not edible. By humans anyway.
(Try pecan trees if you want shade and food.)
Tomorrow I will be hauling branches into the fenced garden space and building Sepp Holzer-style raised beds for fall planting. (piles of stuff with dirt mixed in). I think the harvester ants gobbled the lettuce seedlings yesterday, and the newly-transplanted herbs might be gone as well... sigh... they are under knee-high plastic pipe arches with bird netting draped over them so it's not the birds this time...
I'm determined to keep trying... to change my thinking on all these challenges. I've been 'doing battle' with them for years and it's only made me sad and defeated. It's not them, it's my approach, but I'll be darned if I can figure this place out!
Here's a list of the 'wild challenges' which descend en masse on any newly irrigated / herbaceous spot (add coyotes and bobcat and perhaps mountain lion if you have poultry or small livestock):
The climate varies from months of hot dry winds with dust devils, to torrential downpours, to freezing nights down to single digits. Occasional snow. Hail at any time of year.
Aquaponics using grey water in a hoop house is my next step.
Sorry about the rant... ideas welcome.
—Lycium exsertum. (a!,h) LYCI-22. Packet: $2.50
'WOLFBERRY'. Profuse small lavender flowers followed by abundant bright red edible berries. Spiny shrub to 3 - 6 feet. Low deserts, Arizona & México. Very drought resistant. The berries were eaten in great quantities by the Indians, fresh, cooked, or dried like raisins. Good wildlife shrub. Germinates in 2 - 6 weeks.