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Kirk Hockin

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since Apr 11, 2013
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Merville, BC
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Recent posts by Kirk Hockin


I live in the PNW of Canada. We get steady winter downpours to drizzles followed by summer droughts (seasonal droughts, not Cali style endless droughts). Our property is on a slight slope with the house near the top and a pond near the bottom. The whole homestead/rural life is fairly new to me, so I'm lacking depths of experience, and working on building skills and learning where ever I can. I'm having troubles finding information on how to deal with excess water.

The permie water solutions seem to focus more on drylands (no water!) or sporadic downpours with surface runoff (swales!), or some combination of the two. The little I've seen regarding wetlands focuses on chinampas. I'm living in a whole other world, neither dryland nor swamp...

We have areas of our property that get very waterlogged over the winter. As we've lived here the last 3 winters, it seems to be getting worse, and this past winter of El Nino downpours didn't help. As I mentioned, we have a slight slope, dropping 5 feet over 300 feet... very slight, but it is a slope. This past winter, though, areas of standing water, puddles, soggy ground have increased. I'm not needing to dry it all out (impossible!) but I would like to divert and redirect so as to keep zones 0 and 1 a bit drier. I do plan to add a pond or two higher up the slope out in zone 3/4.

I'm looking for ideas and techniques and more specifically solid resources for the diy rural ditch digger.


3 years ago

I'm on the Wet Coast (though our summers are drought like). We've owned our place for almost 3 years. Our 5 acre place has a small pond at the lower end (though the slope is gentle), so much of the winter rain ends up in the pond, due to slope. There has never been much attempt to create any intentional water movement in the past, as far as I can tell. I need to start diverting water, especially away from the gravel driveway area and around the house. Eventually it will end up in the pond. Currently it's causing problems, especially during heavy rains. I'm pretty sure what to do to move the water away, I'm looking for help regarding using the waters path to good measure.

I'd like the water to do some work on the way down hill. I'm looking for inspiration, examples, designs, plans, etc... for 'runoff gardens'. I'm familiar with the urban 'rain gardens' along roads and sidewalks. I'm looking for something more 'country, smallholder permaculture'. It would also be best if it could handle DRY summers (almost no rain from April to October). It could be food, pollination, beauty... Perhaps even an early season water crop that I could harvest before the spot dries out in the summer.

Ideas? Pointers? Links?

3 years ago
I'm looking for suggestions of useful shrubs that will thrive in seasonal standing water. I have an area on my property that collects water through out the winter, and dries out in the summer. I'd like to fill it in with something productive, preferably food, and not too tall (no willow trees). I'm Zone 7, West coast, which means wet wet winters and seasonal summer 'drought' (80% of precipitation between Nov and March).

Any suggestions?
3 years ago
Be aware it's a pretty new group, and there hasn't been much local networking to my knowledge. It seems there are a number of shy permies scattered around the area, as far as I can tell though.
4 years ago
The entire island of Lasqueti is off-grid.

And this fellow supposedly is squatting off-grid, with other folks, somewhere nearby...
4 years ago
I've started a facebook group for Comox Valley permie folks. PM Blayne or I and we'd be happy to add you.
4 years ago
Luckily that area of the property could be bridged with metal fencing and a gate.
4 years ago
Hey all, I'm posting an idea I've been considering, looking for feedback and resources. First though, some context:

I have a 5 acre parcel on Vancouver Island (PNW climate). It is a bit inland, so coastal effects are minor (no salt wind, etc...). The property is a rectangle, busy road along one edge, a quiet road along another edge and woods/forest along the 3rd and 4th edges. Surrounding properties are a mix of wooded rural residential (~5 acres) and agricultural pasture (~30-80 acres). We also live in a 'no gun hunting' area, though bow hunting is legal. I am not a hunter.

I hope to develop large areas of the property as food forest/savanna.

Obviously deer pressure is high, they come right up to the back door at night and crop the tops off our cherry tomatoes. The property was a 'country horse people residence' for 40 odd years, so it's mostly pasture with decrepit short fencing along the perimeter, as well as a short fence around the 'yard' by the house. We've installed a high, 7.5' fence around our new veggie garden, which keeps the deer out just fine.

I'm not enthusiastic about trying to fence the whole property line with high fencing, too expensive, too resource intensive (metal wire, posts, digging labour/machines) and too much like living in a compound. We have a lazy old city dog who will chase deer, but spends nights inside (when the real damage occurs). We plan to get a younger dog soon, and I plan to use 'magic bone sauce' to protect individual trees. However, bonce sauce won't help herbaceous plants and dogs are no guarantee (nor problem free).

Now the idea: I've been considering the adage that deer don't like to jump both high and wide, nor do they like to jump into unseen or narrow landing zones. As such I am thinking of planting an outside hedgerow of thorny plants, piling brush and tree trimmings behind the thorny layer, followed by a second line of productive fedge plants on the inside. I hope if the total width is 5+ feet, and maximum height is 5+ feet, it will exclude deer. Thorny plants I'm considering are Black Hawthorn, Nootka Rose, Sea buckthorn, Barberry. I would also include various insectary, nutrient accumulator and nitrogen fixers to support the main plants. I'm also considering adding some taller trees to the mix for nuts or timber. The fedge side is as of yet unplanned, truly the thorny barrier is the main purpose. I have no plans to create a 'pleached' hedgerow in the British style, since I'm not worried about containing cattle or sheep.

Now for the questions: How could I establish this hedgerow and increase chances of success (tips/techniques)? What other plants would you suggest? Would you plant right to the decrepit fence line or leave a gap (if so, how wide)? Can you suggest any resources for further reading/research, especially regarding establishment techniques? Have you any examples where this has been successfully done?

Thoughts? Comments?

4 years ago