Bill Kearns

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since Feb 13, 2009
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Recent posts by Bill Kearns

Hi All,
Thought I'd review our visit to the Labs during the schmoozaroo this past week.  All I can say is WOW, the labs far exceeded my expectations in both environment and progress.  

We chose to stay in the Tipi ... in hindsight the perfect choice for us.  Surrounded on three sides by a hugel sun scoop, it is in a private setting overlooking a series of meadows punctuated by young stands of trees.

The Labs are under stewardship.  Previously logged (likely more than once), what was thicket is being selectively thinned and alleyways cleared to increase edge, create meadows between the young trees, and thin the overly dense stands of evergreens

The diversity of plant and animal life in the Labs is impressive.  I'll only show a few illustrative photos, but on both the macro and micro scales we reveled in the wide array of species

Morels!  Thanks for the morel hunting expedition Cara!!

From the starting point of raw land 5 years ago, the quantity of systems already installed is incredible.  Almost every structure we saw was made from logs and lumber milled from the Lab property.  Here's just a few and don't even include the wofatis (wofatii?)

Ant Village is a wonderment and has arrays of smaller earthworks designed to slow and infiltrate water on it's way downslope

We had a wonderful time and were able to actually relax (putting down the responsibilities of our dryland "labs" is a rare occurrence!)
Thank you Paul and Jocelyn!  More thanks to Fred (the backbone of the labs), CE Rice (a fountain of knowledge and wonderful host), Erica and Ernie (who were in the middle of conducting a PDC), Cara for teaching us about morel hunting, and everyone else who helped make our visit a highlight of the year!

5 years ago
Okie dokie, we're planning to arrive June 13th afternoon and depart June 16th ... been looking forward to this for a long time!  In addition to schmoozing with awesome folks, renewing old friendships and forging new, I will also be gathering information/material for an article on the Labs for the PRI news site.  Sheila will bring a slide show on what we've been up to here (semi-arid shrub-steppe) if there's any interest/time, and we're both excited to talk all things Permaculture!  
5 years ago
Thanks for the apple (and bringing this ancient post to my attention again)!

Thought I'd post some update pics to the original rock wall:

and what it looks like today from the same angle:

And the opposite side:

Not only did the little wild cherry plums (from Utah, thanks Kyle!) sprout and grow, but this year they've put out some fruits!!!

Over the past six years we've mulched our entire zone 2 (and topped off the mulch yearly), but we've also constructed four more of the talus garland type rock walls:

I can say that we owe this abundance of biomass to mulches and selective chop-n-drop to protect the soil from direct sunlight and wind.
7 years ago
Very nice Paul! Is JForums the result of some enterprising folks from your JavaRanch site?

Everything I tried out while logged out worked fine. I like the new look, even the "plank" siding!

Bill Kearns

I ordered one.

Did you order with the thermal battery???
(Inquiring minds want to know ...)
= )
8 years ago
As the Boise area is dry/cold/windy (and hot too!), this book might be the ticket:

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

How to harvest water and nutrients, select drought-tolerant plants, and create natural diversity

Because climatic uncertainty has now become "the new normal," many farmers, gardeners and orchard-keepers in North America are desperately seeking ways to adapt their food production to become more resilient in the face of such "global weirding." This book draws upon the wisdom and technical knowledge from desert farming traditions all around the world to offer time-tried strategies for:

Building greater moisture-holding capacity and nutrients in soils
Protecting fields from damaging winds, drought, and floods
Harvesting water from uplands to use in rain gardens and terraces filled with perennial crops
Delecting fruits, nuts, succulents, and herbaceous perennials that are best suited to warmer, drier climates

Gary Paul Nabhan is one of the world's experts on the agricultural traditions of arid lands. For this book he has visited indigenous and traditional farmers in the Gobi Desert, the Arabian Peninsula, the Sahara Desert, and Andalusia, as well as the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Painted deserts of North America, to learn firsthand their techniques and designs aimed at reducing heat and drought stress on orchards, fields, and dooryard gardens. This practical book also includes colorful "parables from the field" that exemplify how desert farmers think about increasing the carrying capacity and resilience of the lands and waters they steward. It is replete with detailed descriptions and diagrams of how to implement these desert-adapted practices in your own backyard, orchard, or farm.

This unique book is useful not only for farmers and permaculturists in the arid reaches of the Southwest or other desert regions. Its techniques and prophetic vision for achieving food security in the face of climate change may well need to be implemented across most of North America over the next half-century, and are already applicable in most of the semiarid West, Great Plains, and the U.S. Southwest and adjacent regions of Mexico.

8 years ago
Greetings Ced,
You might try contacting the Pagliaros near Kamiah, ID: Permaculture Global: Kamiah Permaculture Institute
They've been in the area since 2008 and may have significant insights for your land quest. Contact info is included in the link above.
Greetings Christine from the semi-arid eastern Washington shrub steppe, where we see 9"-12" annual precip, soil pH ~8.5, well water pH also around 8.5, hot summers @ 100+F and cold winters down to -20F, and nearly perpetual wind ... all-in-all very similar to your high desert.

We work specifically with climates where evapo-transpiraton exceeds precipitation, at the moment with a reforestation organization in Afghanistan and an organic farm nearby in eastern Washington.

On a personal level, we are "filling-in" an existing small orchard and expanding it to include more variety with an ultimate goal of having a dry-climate version of a food forest. So for us, the course was critical as we are not well versed in the soil sciences. However, I now feel I have a firm grasp of how the soil food web works and how to go about establishing and maintaining it in this climate.

Our mantra is to alter the "evapo-transpiraton > precipitation" inequality by altering the only variables within our control: evaporation and transpiration. The keys to this are wind protection, shade, and mulch/ground cover. Part of the goal is to establish an ever larger "wet spot" that doesn't turn to dust as the summer progresses and minimize our drip irrigation, and a big factor is to get the soil-food web up and running. Understanding the various nuances of the composting process so that we could successfully nurture all the desired soil "critters" was also important. So, with these goals in mind and with our previous knowledge, the course exceeded our expectations.

With all of that (whew!) I guess "it depends" (you know, the standard Permaculture answer) on what your future plans are for your gardens and orchard area. I feel the cost of the course was well worth the knowledge gained. Hope this helps.
9 years ago
Agree with Kerry, twas a good course and a definite complement to your PDC. So much I didn't know was brought to light; plants don't feed off NPK in the dirt, it takes legions of soil critters! If you want to know how your plants sustain themselves, how to build healthy soil (and be able to verify it), and how the whole soil-food web works, this is the course to take.
Soil Food Web Course
9 years ago
Hi Erica,
Have you seen the publication entitled "Fire Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes: Selecting Plants that may Reduce Your Risk from Wildfire" put out by WSU, OSU, and UofI?

This seems to be the year of wildfires here in Washington ... we're expecting more thunderstorms over the upcoming week and keeping our fingers crossed.
9 years ago