DeWayne McElwee

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since Nov 23, 2013
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Recent posts by DeWayne McElwee

My father's lady friend owns this property and she has it up for sale due to health issues.

You can see a birdseye view of the property at this link.

Direct Link to listing page where you can see photo's, info and pricing. I just noticed she has reduced the price again when I checked on the listing today.

Local Attractions:

Could be turned into a small homestead or vacation retreat.

Thanks for looking.

S Bengi wrote:5% bio-char is best. Just mix it in the top 12 inch anyhow you can, probably while planting veggies, over a couple years. Unless you have some heavy machinery.

Another idea is to build tiny swales/hugel on contour to slow water down, went you do have rain events, and also to grow your own chop and drop mulch.

Thanks, that is what I needed to know on the bio-char. I will be doing the tiny swales/hugels on contour and also the chop and drop methods as well.

I have plenty of brush to get started making my own bio-char in the near future, just need to get/find a couple of drums to make it in now.

6 years ago

S Bengi wrote:I am really interested in Florida soil.
The easiest "fix" would be to cover everywhere with nitrogen-fixing plants, dutch clover should be in the mix.
The best solution would be to get your hand on some bio-char.
Mulch is almost pointless, because you will have to import it ever season. and on a larger scale that is expensive.
You can also plant drought tolerant cultivar/species.
If you can dig 4ft and hit the sub-surface water table you would also use it to continually water your garden, I would not recommend this though.
Now that it is "winter" plant a few daikon radish, they might help with the sheeting that you mention.

You are correct S Bengi as to the importing mulch could get expensive. As I mentioned above, I am only going to utilize it (the free composted mulch) in the beginning stages (and for each new section I add) to get things moving in the right direction for fertility and moisture control issues as well as the biochar.

I have started my own composting area and have a very large and growing brush pile I have added too since it was here before I got here. All of which I'll be adding when they are ready to use of course.

I will definitely add the dutch clover to the mix. It will help the honey bee's as well if there are any around here.

I am unclear at this point as to how much biochar to use in the process. Just scatter it or does it need to be a solid layer of certain depth?

Thank you for your input and advice. I greatly appreciate it all.
6 years ago

Alder Burns wrote:First thing I would do is to dig a test hole, or several, around the property, especially where you see water running or standing after a rain. It shouldn't do that in a sandy soil like you describe. I've seen a sandy site near Gainesville suck down four or five inches of rain in a summer storm of a couple hours' duration; no puddles, and certainly no runoff! Something tells me there's a hardpan of clay or maybe limestone not far down. If you find it less than three or four feet down, you may want to see how deep it is and punch through it wherever you intend to plant a permanent tree.
I would consider biochar as well. That soil and climate will cause amazing quantities of mulch, manure, and any other organic matter to just disappear, and you will always have to be importing it in quantity from off site, indefinitely, if you want to see an impact on soil fertility and moisture holding capacity. The biochar process locks some of the organic matter up in a more durable form so it's effect will last much longer.
I would guess the sinkhole issue is a larger-scale problem, either natural or perhaps exacerbated by groundwater withdrawals, and that swales, hugel beds and the like on little over an acre isn't going to impact it much.

Alder, I did dig a 3' hole near the well/pump house and there does seem to be a "clayish" thin layer near the surface just under the powdery sand on top so that must be why it just runs off instead of soaking in. Underneath the clayish layer it seems to be a sandy loam but I never hit any limestone even at the 3' foot level. Maybe because we are at about 300' above sea level.

When I make my swales it should act as a dam when I turn that clayish layer over and on to the other side of the swale to help it retain and allow the moisture to soak into the soil better so that will be a win/win.

Just last week I watched a video on how to make my own biochar so I will be adding that to the mix as well.

I do think that adding the free composted mulch from the landfill will be a good thing, at least in the beginning to get things moving better.

Better safe than sorry, so that is and was why I wanted input on the sinkhole issue before I began adding the swales and hugels. That eases my mind and I can start moving forward now.

I do thank you for your info and advice with my issues here on the homestead.
6 years ago
Thanks for the welcome John.

The free mulch (well other than my costs to drive there and back) has been worth it to get the plants to grow and thankful I am now harvesting tomatoes, some bush beans and onions for the time being.

You are right about heavy rains and then looking like a drought shortly afterward though.

The garden I have installed is probably going to be a temporary thing, until I can get a better handle on how to proceed, design and install hugels, swales into my future food forest here on the homestead.

There is going to have to be many many many cubic yards of organic materials brought in, that is for sure. It will be a "labor of love" so to speak.

The photo below shows that I cut swales into the garden originally, but opted for the above enrichment instead.
6 years ago
Please forgive me if I am posting this in the wrong section as I am a newbie here at the forums among other things including homesteading and permaculture and so on.

The new homestead is 1.3 acres with dwellings pretty much center of the property with wooded areas along the northern and eastern boundaries. Sparse very tall pines on the southern border and southwestern corner.

The southern border is the highest elevation of the property and slopes down from the southwestern corner to the northeast corner and water run off is in torrents when it rains.

I've had to lift a shed in the backyard 4" in the front and 6" in the back, to raise it up out of the water torrents to slow down the rotting process of the floor joists. It has damaged about an inch into the joist at this point, but hopeful that will slow now that I have raised it up out of the waters path for now. I have also dug in a trench around the upper side to divert the water flow away and away from the structure.

My soil is purely sand (Zone 9b Central Florida) with the top quarter to half inch or so is more like powdered sand.

When it rains, I have water flows over most of the property and it doesn't stick around or soak in at all, just runs off and moves the sand down the property. After it rains I can move a quarter inch of top powder sand and it is nothing but dry sand underneath. Very little grass (plenty of weeds) growing but not much else grows as far as vegetables go. I have hundreds of wild blackberries coming up on the property as well as some wild grapes and the pine trees seem to do very well though.

I've installed a garden which I enriched with "dirty" mulch (a lot of dirt mixed into the mulch) just to get my vegetables to grow more then two inches in a month. Once I added the mulch, they shot up 2-3 feet in less than a month. Sadly it was too late for the corn as it tassled and none of the ears produced at all. (lesson learned for the next growing season to not plant in the sandy soil here without serious enrichment first).

Having watched many of the video's on creating hugel beds and swales, I have concerns using them due to risk of possible sinkholes developing from water soaking into the ground too much, since there has been a history of sinkholes in the region (including my area) and with me being a newbie to the area, I definitely don't want to cause one nor have the property or neighbors properties become a total loss either.

I do have plenty of log material to do hugel beds however as seen in one of the attached photo's. The other photo shows how much slope there is in the property where I installed the temporary garden.

Any ideas or helpful information greatly appreciated.

6 years ago