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Permaculture around creek/stream ideas wanted.  RSS feed

 
Jese Anderson
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I'm fairly new on the scene to this idea of "pemaculture" although I've been reading here and various other sites for the past year.  I grasp all the concepts and am starting to practice them (so don't yell at me when you see the pic below of a brush pile burning...it was taken 2 years ago).  What I don't understand and am looking for suggestions is how do I develop the creek/stream I have running through my property in a permaculture sense? 

I have a traditional 3000 sq ft garden (that would be no til if not for this clay I'm still amending), 700 sq ft of raised beds, 2 different areas of around 300 sq ft that I plant greens and sunflowers in for my chickens and rabbits, 2 hugelculture beds, and 1/4 of an acre that I sow with "wildlife forage" for my chickens, bees and the local wildlife population.  Now I want to move to the creek.

I kick myself for not establishing my main garden within 10 ft of this creek.  That's a spring fed creek that starts 3/4 of a mile away on my neighbors 490 acres.  Once it leaves her place it is on my land for maybe 300 meters then goes into an underground cavern.  I don't drink the water but use it to water all my critters and garden areas. 

This stream didn't always look like this.  I cleaned up the brush a lot.  When we purchased this place the brush had completely consumed the creek and you really couldn't tell it was there over the entire 300 meters that it's on out property.  My wife and kids really enjoyed this stream, so in my free time I made efforts to clean it up and beat back the brush. Sure the wife and kids helped me make the effort but the copperheads and rattlers were the main driving force.  We have those two species on our property and the last thing I wanted to do is have a 9, 10, and 13 year old crossing paths with venomous snakes in thick brush...so I made a "buffer area" around the creek just so that they could potentially see the snake prior to stepping on or over it.

With all that said, I want develop this creek into a food forest type situation.  I'm not big on clearing a lot of the area outside of the creek.  Sure I can open up a few areas to let sunlight but no more than anything larger than a 10m x 10m area.  I would then leave a larger area then clear out another 10mx10m area.  I want to keep a bit of shade because the mosses and aquatic life love it and I don't want to destroy all of this habitat. 

So have any of you ever developed right up to a creek?  I plan on keeping any disturbances to a minimum of 3 meters away from "banks" of the stream since erosion around here is bad enough and It would kill me of I thought I was losing more soil off my place....so I'm not going to impede on the areas that confine the stream.

The 3 pictures provided are of the stream.  Picture with picnic table is the highest point of the stream on my property. The second pic is of a brush fire burning (I cleared this of all the vines, brush, and cedar trees and started a vineyard) and is about the halfway point where the stream is on my property.  Third pic is on opposite side of stream looking towards my house, from here the stream goes another 50 meters then crosses onto the neighbors vacant 120 acres of woods and dumps into a cavern.

I've provided these pics to give a "feel" for the stream in order to better understand it and offer up ideas.  A few things I will say:

I mainly want to develop the area in the picnic table picture.  In the pic of the house there is a black walnut, persimmon, buckeye, white oak, and hack-berry tree between the stream and the house, they are nice trees and I will not cut them down. So I'm focusing on the one main area in the picnic table picture.

Other thing to note:  There are times when one could Kayak down this stream after heavy rains but it always stays within the confinement of it's banks.

I'm all up for suggestions since I honestly do not know how to develop this area.  If this stream was on your property what would you do? 

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Marcus Billings
Posts: 68
Location: South Central Indiana
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Hi Jese,

I've let the area around my stream grow up quite a bit to contain erosion. I only keep down the growth on a few paths and let the rest grow wild and I've seen several amazing plants come up on their own.  I've also planted varieties of pawpaws as they do well in an understory situation. I plant them near other trees that I'll probably remove after they get about 5 years old.  They always seem to bear more if they have full sun when mature.   I've planted honey berry in secluded nooks, as zone 6 might be a little warm and sunny for them if planted in the wide open.  Where I've planted them, they get about six hours of sunlight and are doing great.  I also have a block cystern that collects water and a pump that brings it up to the house.  Year round streams are a treasure.

Your place is beautiful! 
 
Deb Rebel
garden master
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Location: Zone 6b
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It would help me greatly to help you, if:

you would consider adding what grow zone you're in. What your annual rainfall is (even if your stream is spring fed keeping the aquifer that feeds that stream fed with surface water is important)
What is the stream base (aka is there bentonite or other water-resistant lining to it-this definitely helps it remain a year-around stream as well as reduces the need for CFM flow problems to keep it functioning as a stream.

The pictures are very helpful. Thank you for adding them.
 
Jese Anderson
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Marcus Billings wrote: I've also planted varieties of pawpaws as they do well in an understory situation.


Pawpaws sound great. It's been years since I've even seen any. I am in Middle TN  (South of Nash) now but was raised in Southern Ohio where pawpaws but were present but not overly common.  It's been years since I've had a pawpaw.  Thanks for the suggestion.  Yes, year around streams are nice.  I've only seen it run dry a single time in 6 years and that was last year when we were in an isolated area of drought. 

I've added another pic below to show what the stream is like right around the picnic table to show the flow level in late winter/early spring.  This is 150 meters from the house. My wife would escape from the kids and I and would be relaxing in this area, so for her birthday the kids suggested we buy her a picnic table and put it back in the woods at "her spot".



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Jese Anderson
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Deb Rebel wrote:It would help me greatly to help you, if:

you would consider adding what grow zone you're in. What your annual rainfall is (even if your stream is spring fed keeping the aquifer that feeds that stream fed with surface water is important)
What is the stream base (aka is there bentonite or other water-resistant lining to it-this definitely helps it remain a year-around stream as well as reduces the need for CFM flow problems to keep it functioning as a stream.

The pictures are very helpful. Thank you for adding them.


Sorry about that. I am in Zone 7 (20 miles South of Nashville) . Our average rainfall is between 45-50 inches/year.

The stream's lining is pretty much solid rock.  You can see the shelves in the original pic looking up towards the picnic table. There are crevasses in the rock and during really dry conditions it will slow to a trickle since the majority of water falls into the crevasses and may or my not show back up down stream.  The soil within 10-15 meters of the stream never really dries out even though the stream may turn into a trickle.

I'd like to also note that most of my property's soil is that sticky red clay that is associated with this region.  Within 20 yards of either side of the stream there is a nice deposit of topsoil....it's the only area on this property that has that nice rich dark topsoil that I use to be blessed with in the hills of S. Ohio.  The presence of the soil is one of he reasons I want to develop the area around the stream. 

Thanks for your response.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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