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Growing arboretum in the desert  RSS feed

 
michael zediker
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Zone 5b.
41st parallel.
40 acres square
6750-6730 elevation across land

Sand and silt soil.  No clay.  Sagebrush
Rainfall 11"
Snowfall 84"
60 MPH gusts.
-30 to 90 degress
Full sun


Dream:
Set snow fence to collect drifts of snow on 2-4 acres of land.
Bill board used vinyl to lay on ground for drift to melt on. This will run down hill to pond or water tanks buried in ground to collect water.
Plant blue spruce windbreak to start.  Then once big enough. Plant nut trees, walnut, pecan, etc.

Solar to run timer and pump from tanks or pond.
Estimate 1 spruce tree takes 1 gallon of water per day.  Inserted into rootball of tree, not surface watered.

Barbwire fence around windbreak at 8 foot high to keep deer and tree nibblers out.

Did i miss anything?

This pipe dream will come true.

Thanks

-Z-




 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 1787
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
195
forest garden trees woodworking
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What jumps out at me is that 84" of snow.  That's the unexploited resource on your land, which (I assume) is why you're thinking snow fences to capture it.

Only... what are you using for snow fencing?  I assume it's a resource limitation that you are "only" snow-fencing a few acres (still a big job of course). 

What I'm wondering is whether this isn't a situation that cries out for bulldozer-scale swales.  I'm thinking deep swales with tall berms, basically as narrow and steep as your soils will hold.  Over as much land as you can afford to do earthworks on -- more like the bulk of your property than a corner of it.  Properly situated (I haven't the foggiest idea how to do that, but I know it's a science) the swale/berm arrangements should not only capture a lot of snow in the swales (with the berms working like snow fences) but also as windbreaks for the plants getting established in the swale bottoms. 

Just a thought.  It's a lot of bulldozer work for sure.
 
michael zediker
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Dan Boone wrote:What jumps out at me is that 84" of snow.  That's the unexploited resource on your land, which (I assume) is why you're thinking snow fences to capture it.

Only... what are you using for snow fencing?  I assume it's a resource limitation that you are "only" snow-fencing a few acres (still a big job of course). 

What I'm wondering is whether this isn't a situation that cries out for bulldozer-scale swales.  I'm thinking deep swales with tall berms, basically as narrow and steep as your soils will hold.  Over as much land as you can afford to do earthworks on -- more like the bulk of your property than a corner of it.  Properly situated (I haven't the foggiest idea how to do that, but I know it's a science) the swale/berm arrangements should not only capture a lot of snow in the swales (with the berms working like snow fences) but also as windbreaks for the plants getting established in the swale bottoms. 

Just a thought.  It's a lot of bulldozer work for sure.


I figured the 4' wood slat roll stuff with t posts for this winter. As a test to see how big/long the drifts get.  100 foot roll is 100 bucks.
The wind blows the snow away. So if i can catch as much as possible......

Dozer is $3100 for the week rental.  D6M
Plus fuel delivery service......

I will have lots of dirt from pond.  So, I like the idea.  Swales can draw the water to the pond.  But being silt/sand.  Like really, I dug a hole 6", 12", 24"   Same soil through that hole.  I packed it in my fist.  Stays loose. Then added water, still loose.  So, not much if no clay at all.  I don't want the water in the swales to soak in the ground.  I guess I could line them?

This month I will be placing a snow fence for the winter to see how it survives/performs.

41.846414 -107.856243

-Z-
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4028
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
172
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Howdy Michael, welcome to permies !!

I live in south Denver and have 10 acres south of elk mountain .
My thoughts are these. You might want to start with less expensive, "weed trees" before planting spruce. Spruce might have a hard time out there. I think cedar and juniper would be a better choice until you get some better soil built up. Maybe Chinese elm and box elder and caragana too. The soil conservation district folks sell all sorts of trees for windbreaks for cheap and even help plant them if you want. These trees will act as nurse plants for your better plants to be planted latter. They will add mulch and shade as well as wind protection. The wind and cold will be your biggest challenge.

You have a good plan to get wind breaks going but they have to be done just right. You actually have to have the bottom of the fence up off of the ground so that the wind is able to blow under them. My brother could tell you more about that. He has also tried pallets and 2x4's and 2x6's.  If you do have the money to rent a backhoe you could build some swales and berms pretty quickly which would help with wind and water. Snow will accumulate in any "ditch" or gulley that you make .  Any manures, woodchips, or old hay and straw that you can get your hands on will help keep the water from evaporating. They goal is to get the water into the soil where the roots can use it rather than where it is exposed to the evaporation of the sun and wind such as in a pond.  How salty is the soil there? There is a lot of alkali in those deserts that you will have to watch for. Saltbush is a good indicator. Try not to clear all of your sagebrush away, use it to you advantage. cut it out in strips , on contour and pile it up as a windbreak/ berm also.

Keeping the antelope off of any plants you plant will be a challenge and unless you have a fence up, cows will wander in also. Antelope do not jump fences unless they are desperate, they go under them so do not leave space under a barbed wire fence for them to crawl under. A game camera on a post will help you identify what types of animals are wandering through. 

 
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