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Ludi's projects 2017  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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We began 2017 on the right foot by finishing the first brush dam for this season.  We plan to make several more during the cool weather.

Here's my list of goals for this year; some are left over from last year as ongoing projects:

1. Brush dams in the creek
2. Exclusion fencing around as many trees as I can manage
3. Continue composting system with chickens
4. Work on food forest
5. Grow more staple foods and learn to eat them
6.  Set up paddock shift system for chickens
7. Zai Holes experiment
8. 30 Vegetables experiment
9. Set up Spiral Breeding scheme for chickens

I'm most excited about my plans for the old garden in the front yard, which used to be the vegetable garden and orchard but it died in the severe drought we had a few years ago.  In this space I am creating a paddock shift system for chickens which will also incorporate various non-irrigated vegetable growing experiments such as Zai Holes and Gabe Brown's 30 Vegetables polyculture.  I'm letting the chickens clear each plot in which I will grow vegetables without irrigation, and then once the vegs have been harvested, the chickens will be let in to eat the remains and clear the plot again.  I only have two paddocks figured out for this year's experiments, but I will end up with 4 - 5 paddocks total by the time I get them all fenced.  This might take a couple years. Eventually I hope to grow non-irrigated staple crops in these paddocks during the warm season, and mixed leaf and root vegetables during the cool season. 

 
Tyler Ludens
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Working on another food forest "bubble" which will be fenced to discourage deer.  We need to remove a couple dead oak trees, which we started this morning.  I still haven't entirely settled on what fruits I will plant here.  They need to be able to take a moderate amount of shade.

Here's the space just uphill from the dog house and the frog pond:



 
gardener
Posts: 1474
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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I've got those pistachio seeds on the way to me. If I get some trees started, would you be interested?  Since they're a desert tree that prefers dry conditions and summer temperatures in the 100's I think they'd be easier than most to establish here. It looks like for commercial production they like 1000 chill hours, but I'm gambling on getting production enough for home use with less than ideal chilling. Worst case scenario (if they survive) is a small shade tree with dramatic fall color.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Wow, thanks!  Unfortunately, I'm so good at killing things not right near the house, I don't think I can use them.  I've tried remote plantings of pecans, almonds, and olives and all died from lack of attention.  I need to realize my own limitations!  If you have extra seeds, I might try planting those in protected spots and if they sprout they are more likely to survive than transplants.  The biggest problem with pistachios is that they are gendered trees with males of course not bearing nuts.

So only if you have extra seeds.

 
Casie Becker
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I'm moving this to a PM for discussion. I will say for the sake of public discussion that I expect them to need less pampering than any of the fruit trees you listed. As a true desert tree I think they'll be more comparable to a mesquite in what they require.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I truly appreciate the offer but I think you're better off using them in case germination is low.  I'm trying direct seeding of trees and shrubs and so far germination is low enough I think I need to start with ten times the seed for the plants I ultimately hope to survive.

 
Posts: 96
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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dog greening the desert trees
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I have been thinking about getting me some pistachio to grow up here where I live.

Any Looking to see how you improve you land this year as for my I am almost set where I can spend more on my land rather then paying a bank interest apon interest.
 
Casie Becker
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You'd probably be even better situated for them to succeed. Everywhere that sold them had prices way outside my budget, but it sounds like they come fairly true to seed.  I've got 25 seeds coming by the end of Jan/beginning of Feb, and I'm gong to try growing the plants in pots for a couple of years first. If I have extra surviving trees I'll definite be looking for people that want them. I'm bad with potted plants so I'm going to plant every seed I have and hope enough survive for my own needs.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Made a berm on the uphill side of the kitchen garden to keep run off from flooding it.
P1060602.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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Many things were killed in the hard freeze (approx 15 F) - Broad Windsor Fava Bean seems dead as a doornail.  Daikon radishes froze down to ground level but the ends of the roots are salvageable if pulled soon before they rot.  Red Russian Kale has frozen down to the crown but might grow back.  Sweet Lorane Fava Beans look pretty good so apparently much more freeze tolerant than the other variety.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's a comparison between the two varieties of Fava today.  Sweet Lorane seems much more freeze-tolerant.  The drawback is this variety has much smaller beans than Broad Windsor, which will make it more tedious to prepare.  But little beans are better than no beans!  I don't think the Broad Windsor will even be able to grow back from the crowns, but I'm leaving them be until I know for sure.
broadwindsor.jpg
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sweetlorane.jpg
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steward
Posts: 1680
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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That's pretty cool to know! Sweet Lorane would do well here, too. Maybe before you thresh the beans, look for a plant or plants that have larger beans and save those for seed. Maybe you could select for larger bean size and create a better bean for you.

I'll definitely be trying Sweet Lorane next winter. Thanks for showing the comparison.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's an example of the power of intensive grazing.  I put the chickens on this patch of land to, I planned, clear it completely of native grasses so that I could plant a cool season cover crop of Oats and Daikon which would die back in time for me to plant my no-irrigation crop of squash at the beginning of the warm season.  I had the chickens on this plot during the hottest time of the year and I though for sure they had killed the grass dead.  Nope, they apparently only did good for the grass because it has come back with a vengeance.  The Oats and Daikon germinated poorly and the Daikon got killed out completely by our hard freeze, which damaged the few Oats.  This situation of the grass doing so well after hard grazing by the chickens bodes well for a paddock shift system on grass, but bodes poorly for growing anything besides grass in the paddocks.
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Tyler Ludens
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We got flooding rains last night, and this morning we were able to see how the new earthworks worked.  They sort of did, but some instructions had been ignored by the Bobcat operator, so a large berm is in the wrong position, allowing water leaving the top basin to move far too quickly, a rushing torrent.  We need to get him back out to fix it, which means more $$.  So, I'm not too thrilled.  It's not a horrendous error, but it should be fixed sooner than later.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's a photo showing how far off the berm got from where we had originally staked it.  We were thinking of getting the Bobcat guy out to fix it, but I don't have confidence in his ability to not mess it up again so I'm going to try to move the berm with hand tools.  We might be able to borrow the neighbors' tractor.
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Tyler Ludens
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Started another brush dam today and planted veg seeds in the kitchen garden.  Harvested some Sweet Potatoes!  Woo!

 
Casie Becker
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Did that bobcat driver remember to wear his glasses?

Unless your sweet potatoes were in pots, you may have to rethink the idea that you're half a zone colder than me. All my sweet potatoes came out right after Thanksgiving (late Nov for those of you watch outside of the US)
 
Tyler Ludens
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I just dug a handful of tubers from the bed.  The plants seem alive, though dormant, so apparently wanting to be perennial. (yay!)  These are the purple kind - I think you mentioned  that your purples have perennialized.

Really not sure what happened with the earthworks.  I think he drove over the original stakes and just kept piling up the dirt in the wrong place.  The berm, which we requested be 18 inches tall, is 3-4 feet tall....
 
Tyler Ludens
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Fixed about 20 feet of the berm with pick and rake, but man, it is discouraging.  I hope my husband can borrow the tractor...
 
pollinator
Posts: 409
Location: Western Kenya
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Tyler Ludens wrote:We began 2017 on the right foot by finishing the first brush dam for this season.  We plan to make several more during the cool weather.

Here's my list of goals for this year; some are left over from last year as ongoing projects:

1. Brush dams in the creek
2. Exclusion fencing around as many trees as I can manage
3. Continue composting system with chickens
4. Work on food forest
5. Grow more staple foods and learn to eat them
6.  Set up paddock shift system for chickens
7. Zai Holes experiment
8. 30 Vegetables experiment
9. Set up Spiral Breeding scheme for chickens



This is a fantastic and ambitious list! I scrolled through your 2016 list, and you have really accomplished a lot!

One question, what is a Zai hole? I know I should just go google it...
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks!  Zai is a hole with organic material put in it and covered over with some of the excavated soil, and seeds planted.  It is a method of growing in a dry climate - the holes capture run off for the plants.

 
Maureen Atsali
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That's interesting re the zai holes.  We basically do that when we start new bananas.  We dig a hole about 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep, throw in compost and manure, and then plant the banana.  The hole remains a foot or more deeper than the surroundings to catch and hold more rain. Some people use that method for other sorts of crops.  I never knew there was a special name for it!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Zai holes are a traditional practice in some areas, but might be known by a different name (or even just known as "planting"!)

My husband was able to borrow the tractor from our lovely neighbors and he made short work of fixing the berm.  We still have stupid giant ugly piles of dirt in the wrong place, but I don't think they can do any actual harm now.  I might work to smooth them down a little so they aren't quite so huge.

P1060645.jpg
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Tracy Wandling
steward
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Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
336
bee books chicken forest garden fungi hugelkultur trees
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Oh, I'm so glad you got to use a tractor! That's a lot of work to do by hand. I hope it works better now.
 
Maureen Atsali
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Glad you got to use a tractor. So hard to do those large earthworks by hand!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks!

Today I set up an in-garden worm composter, based on this idea:  https://vimeo.com/153717114

I used an old plastic plant pot for the tower.

 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm having a heck of a time deciding when to plant my Gabe Brown style "30 Vegetables" garden.  Casie Becker in my region is already planting squash - and she's north of me!  But her apple trees are blooming and mine are not.  I'm in a little frost pocket of a side valley off a larger river valley.  I think I'm probably a half a zone colder than she is.  I plan to plant all my vegetables at once, and let them come up as they will, because it sounds like that's what Gabe did.  But I don't know when he planted relative to his last frost date.  Last year our last frost was March 20.  So I think it is too early to plant now.  But it has been deceptively lovely and warm, and we have rains coming...I'm trying to resist....

 
Casie Becker
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To be fair, I am taking a gamble starting this soon.  If I didn't have a huge overabundance of seed, I'd probably wait at least two more weeks.  As it is, I'm prepared to replant everything if necessary.
 
Tyler Ludens
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About how long will that be after your apples started blooming? 
 
Casie Becker
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I think that would make it about a month after. This probably isn't a good metric right now. All my blooming plants are all over the board on their bloom times this year. The apple opened it's first blossom a couple of weeks ago.  My iris, which usually start blooming in January opened their first flower yesterday. My daffodils (aren't they often pictured in snow?) have only started poking leaves up with no blooms yet. The muscari started blooming this week also. The iris have been on the property the longest, so you would think them best adapted, but they also usually lose the first flush of blooms to a sudden freeze.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Made this nest box for the small coop:

nestbox.jpg
[Thumbnail for nestbox.jpg]
 
Posts: 12
Location: Texas Hill Country Zone 8a : 10 to 15 (F)
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Until mesquite, and peacan start leafing out, I wouldn't start planting anything that can tolerate a heavy frost.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you!  I'll check our Mesquites (we have 2) and see how they're doing! 

My Pomegranates are leafing out, the Iris that Cassie gave me are blooming, and Lady Banks Rose is blooming....
 
Tyler Ludens
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The top basin filled last night, but did not apparently overflow down the new spillway.  We may need to lower the spillway a little but I'm not sure. 
basin.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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We manage for amphibians on our place and this year we appear to have a new species, the Spring Peeper.

With no natural permanent water on the land, we have the following amphibians:

Leopard Frog
Narrow-mouth Frog
American Toad
Grey Tree Frog
Green Tree Frog
Cricket Frog
Spring Peeper
 
Tyler Ludens
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The deer problem continues to explode:

IMG_2410.jpeg
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Maureen Atsali
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Wow that's a big herd of deer!
What are the hunting regulations there?  Does the department of fish and game do anything to control these herds?
In Vermont we have whitetail deer, but the state does a pretty good job of managing them via changing hunting regulations based on herd health and population.  My dad and most of the male population of my family are avid hunters.  They'd go nutty if they looked out the window and saw all that venison!
 
Tyler Ludens
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The biggest problem are the non-native Axis (Chital) Deer - the spotted ones in that photo.  There is open season, no bag limit on these extremely tasty deer, but folks aren't hunting nearly enough.  These deer are destroying many of the woody plants in the region.
 
James Everett
Posts: 96
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
3
dog greening the desert trees
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I see deer to the south of my land about 2 miles but I have yet to see any on mine yet.  But I believe that to be due to the coyote problem along my draw that keeps them from coming along to my lands.  I seem to have a surplus of cotton tail, Jack Rabbit, ground squirrel though and just recently a few new pest seem to have started to move into my northern part of the land seen two foxes and a skunk running down my short county road.  Just wonder what I will actually start seeing as I put in more water retention areas if i ever get the time to install.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I personally wouldn't consider coyotes a problem if you have that many rodents.  Coyotes mostly eat rodents and other small animals.  What you're calling "pests"  I would call "wildlife."

 
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