I have a home with a river that defines 2/3rd of the property line. 3 acres in the thumb of Michigan. The river is 6-15 feet wide at any given rate, and does occasionally freeze and dry nearly up, but mostly runs consistently throughout the year.
Several questions arise:
1. How do I best utilize this fantastic resource? What would you do?
2.Are there any basic designs that would harness the potential energy generated by the river?
I'm speaking here about turning the rivers mechanical energy to homestead uses, electrical energy, etc.
And lastly, certain areas of the yard flood in spring and with heavy rainfall. This 'yard pond' stays wet and soggy for a week and then recedes back into the river. This may occur 3-4 times per year on average. This also results in manageable basement water seepage. Not serious, but would be good to find a solution to.
3.How best to deal with this area?
I'm considering bamboo or any water loving plants, perhaps to create a small wetland type area of the yard. Swales to direct and slow water movement towards trees. Cattails. Etc.
Any thoughts are appreciated!
Well as for the wet ground, is it actually water standing on top of still frozen ground in the spring..that is a problem everywhere where there is any flat or depressed land in Michigan, the snow melts but the ground is still frozen..the best solution to this is to grade all of your property AWAY from your home toward the river..and to NOT provide any dams that will back up the water, including snowpiles.
as for the planting along the river..that is the easy part..plant everything.
a lot of it depends on your bank height..unfortunately most people's water edge banks are really dry..cause they are high and the water runs quickly off to the river..but if it is a low enough bank that gets some seepage back into it..which some around here are..mucky and swampy you have some opportunities that you would have nowhere else..so use them.
grow swampy lover plants..like elderberries, cranberries, willows if you want willow craft supplies, etc.
likely your water table is kinda high, ours is..so you do have to make sure the plants that you plant will withstand a high water table..some won't..so do your research.
i have a pond here that loses some water level during the heat of July..and so some areas near it are very dry..esp up on the banks..so you have to take that into consideration..
where are you in Michigan...I'm south of the Manistee and between the chase and golden creeks
The Core of Engineers would have to be consulted as to any alt energy uses or diversions or other man made items involving the river.
Food like fish, fresh water clams, come to mind. Mushrooms and wild greens usually grow along the edges of rivers in the woods. Some people use driftwood to make artistic things out of.
Ludi Ludi wrote:
If you're able to dig some depressions for ponds, even seasonal ponds can grow a lot of food, though some of it might not be things we're used to eating, like cattails and duck potatoes.
Good idea...worth looking into... If you have seasonal flood area - where i am you can pick up fish in impound waters any way you want - net, hand, gig etc.
As for the wet ground @Brenda, the river actually overflows and occasionally overtakes the majority of the yard. Most often, it fills a 20 X 20 area with standing water on non-frozen land. I'm in Lapeer btw.
I love the mushroom idea, being a big fan of Paul Staments.
The seasonal pond is also a very attractive idea to consider, since it would take very little to make this a reality. After the seasonal pond would dry out mid-summer, would it be an unsightly beast, or still retain an attractive look? I suppose, around the outer edge of the pond, I could plant attractive plants, flowers or trees...
There is already a willow on the property, though rotting, though it seems not a common "permaculture" tree, ie. many uses, functions. Though all trees have many functions of course. Are there possible willow guilds anyone knows anything about?
Blueberries are another plant that does well in bogs and water edges.
Is used for bsket making too.
Bamboo has shallow roots, Geof lawton suggests it for the sides of swales beause of this I suppose, because deep roots would cause the water to drain down into the earth . I imagine deep rooted plants would make channels that lead water down to deepeer levels of the ground but it maybe that all the levels are saturated so there is no where for water to go. engineers would understand more about this. agri rose m acaskie.
Much better trees and shrubs are available from county extension sites at low cost. Baby trees and shrubs actually take root and grow faster than big (expensive) ones, if protected from deer and rabbits. This is a great time of year to research and order plants for permanent sustainable plantings.
If you want gigantic, try sycamore or tulip tree, both originally used for canoes. Better choices for creek banks are shorter natives such as redbud, amelanchier, and cedars. Under theses trees that the birds love, try shrubs like chokecherry and elderberry. All can take the periods of flood and drought.
Personally, I think concerns about non-native plants are valid but often overblown. Natives are a good idea in principle. But if you believe in a small carbon footprint and yet don't provide all your needs from your immediate environs, you're either making use of non-natives in someone else's location, or you're causing a lot of carbon emissions, or both. From my perspective, I'd rather own the responsibility of planting figs, apples, pears and yes, perhaps even bamboo, than maintain a pristine native environment while having someone else grow my non-native plants for me. So I say, if a non-native will work best for you in this situation, and you can take steps to ensure that it doesn't become a problem plant in your area, then use it.
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