Thanks for all the info so far everyone. @ Mikeru the soil is like concrete. There's pretty much nothing to it.
Tilling won't be very good in the long term because you'll just build up a traktor pan
Ludi Ludi wrote:
Personally I think raised beds are not a good idea in a dry climate. I think reconfiguring the area with basins to capture rainwater is a better idea.
Don't put a raised rim around a basin except on the downhill side. You want rainwater to go into the basin, not around it.
I can't express how important I think this information is for us in dry climates!
jburdine wrote:But all of this is going to take more labor than most folks want to do right away.
paul wheaton wrote:
I would do hugelkultur stuff. And because it is so dry there, I would make the hugelkultur beds a good seven feet tall, knowing that they will quickly shrink. I would get lots of alfalfa hay as mulch. I suspect that there is not a natural source there for good topsoil, so I would wanna make my own. I would mix untouched "dirt" with a broad variety of organic matter (hay, alfalfa meal, leaves, twigs, wood chips ... anything I can find where I know that it has had a lifetime of organic stuff - no pesticides). I would find some good, rich soil somewhere and get a few five gallon buckets of that to mix in. That soil will have lots of microbials in it that i want. I would buy the fungi perfecti soil additive stuff and put that in after everything was built. I would also get a few bales of ORGANIC straw to use for a variety of things.
I suspect that apple trees will not do well there.
Since you are in SUCH a hot climate, I think biochar would do a lot for you - you should look into it. I usually advocate against biochar in the colder climates, but I think it is something that would be a fit for you.
Start making lists of the things you want to grow and share them here. Pay careful attention to what will do well in your area. We want to make sure there are plenty of legumes.
Since most of my knowledge is for colder climates, we'll be depending on others to help us with understanding which things do well down there.
travis laduke wrote:
I want to see what happens when you get some burdock or daikon going in that soil.
Thanks Paul for you time. I was thinking of going with straw. I never thought of Alfalfa though. I went to a class on herbs a few months back at the Springs Preserve here. The lady that taught it uses Alfalfa hay for her beds. She sales her herbs at a farmers market here. I'm going there tomorrow to ask her were she gets it. I got a good idea of where I can find wood for hugelkultur stuff. I had planned on doing a soil test here soon, and amending the soil with the results I get. So do you think I should scrap that idea, and let nature take it's course?
I really enjoyed you podcast you did with Larry Korn. I bought One Straw Revoultion. I'm starting reading it today. I was think that after I let the hay and organic matter do it's thing for a good 9 months to a year. I wanted to try the whole natural soil amender's. I think you guy's talked about Daikon, Clover, and Mustard. I got a lot of reasearch to do, but thanks again for all your help.
Ohh yeah I was reading the review's on One Straw, and here's what one person said in the 1 star review's "If you like cults, you'll like this philosophical treatise on...rice.
As a long-time gardener, I found the book practically useless, and I found the concept of "do-nothing farming" to be offensive. " Sorry I just thought it was funny!!
i get more rain then dragonfly and the OP. Its 8-12 inches here. its a colder region also.
i have a nearly unworkable soil though. You need a pickaxe or maddock. Its a powdery heavy clay.
I must say working organic matter into my soil is nearly worthless.
tilling is meaningless. It recompacts itself. Ive tilled in 6 inches of manure twice a year for a few years. You can barely tell i did a thing.
heres something interesting though, and Ive been playing with this to great benefit. I now put down a layer of compost, then leaves or straw. after a season the soil underneath is workable. more workable then areas I mixed in a total of 30-36 inches of manure into 8 inches deep!!!
it seems to me to be related to microbial life. they cant thrive in manure mixed into my soil. Its actually volcanic soil so its actually full of good stuff though a bit alkaline. in layers though, like youd find on a forest floor, the microbial life makes its way into the soil. That or associated acids that such things release.
for actual beds I think Im going to re do them as hugelkultur this year(and biochar as im able). I think the action with all that decaying wood will be extremely beneficial.