Chris Jones

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since Nov 27, 2013
Georgia Lake Country Zone 7/8
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Recent posts by Chris Jones

Hello everyone! Here is the backstory to my question: I have roughly a 3/4 acre plot fenced in, about 6,000 square feet of which is currently a wood chip mulched vegetable garden. The rest was very low quality soil which had been abused by roundup for 15+ years by the gentleman who owned my farm before me. I let whatever wanted to grow in the non-gardened areas come up (clovers, grasses, crabgrass, all types of things) and once established, covered them with cardboard and a 4-6" layer of woodchips. At this point I have covered probably 3/4 of my non-gardened in areas this way.

Here's my question: I want to establish a ployculture of green manure crops into this mulch in the spring. How should this best be done? By raking the chips back and planting seeds in dirt? I was considering making seedballs a la Fukuoka but was unsure if plants can grow in just woodchips? Can I just broadcast seeds out before a big rain and let them be washed in?

Thanks for any insights you might have,

Chris

The photo is from Sepp Holzers permaculture book, where I got the idea for this from.
3 years ago
Hi, just wanted to share something I built in my garden, I apologize if this is the incorrect forum! I got the idea for the tower garden based on this video:



But I didn't have any two liter bottles, so instead I used gallon jugs. Sand will go in the top funnel jug to filter the water. There is full drainage through the tower. I plan on growing lettuce out of these. I used a potting mix of what I had available at the moment: peat moss, mushroom compost, and a sprinkle of dolomite. I'm not sure if that is a great potting mix, but it was all I had. Each jug is zip tied to the trellis for stability. Any thoughts on how I could improve it? Thanks for any comments.

Chris
4 years ago
An idea I had after reading a lot about Swales and hugelkultur: would burying logs under the sand in the creek bed help it absorb water soaked in by the Swales instead of just draining out through the ground? I could haul manure and stuff out there to make a gley layer, just wondering if the logs might serve a similar function
4 years ago
Oh and miles: is the tool He is using in that video the yeomans key line plow? I googled it and it looked like something a tractor pulled, is this just a hand held version? Basically it's a tiller that doesn't rotate the soil from bottom to top?
4 years ago
THANK you Jen and Miles, excellent information, and yet it just raises more questions!!! Isn't that always the way...

Jen and Miles: I would like to make this area suitable for growing fruit trees, I have plenty of veggie garden. Some areas of the land slope more gradually than others, so some parts might be slightly steeper than 17 degrees. There is a forest there now: lots of young but tall trees with not so much underbrush. There are lots of drainage ditches that I thought were called "cuts," but which Darren, in his very helpful video series, (thanks miles!) refers to as a "runnel." There are many of these cut into the landscape draining towards the creek bed. This is where I get confused: these cuts are running perpendicular to the contour, whereas the Swales run parallel to contour. How do I mix and mingle Swales and the "runnels?" Should I put a pond in the runnel, which then spits overflow into a swale? Should I block the runnel with rocks to divert it into a swale? Jen, you mention using nitrogen fixers, etc. in conjunction with Swales...I used seedballs to cover my useless sod lawn with a winter cover crop, would it be beneficial to use seedballs to get a cover crop established on this land in preparation for digging swales? Or is that only for after they are dug...

The biggest obstacle to planning this out in my mind is the order to go about it all. Do I need to clear this land before digging Swales and ponds? Is it worth attempting any of this by hand, or should I plan everything out and just bite the bullet and call in the Cats and a steam shovel?

Darren shows something really cool where he puts a pond in the highest saddle, then pipes it into a drainage ditch which feeds ponds on lower saddles and irrigates the land underneath. That's SERIOUSLY freaking cool, and exactly what I would like to do, somehow incorporating the rainwater and gray water that is currently being unutilized.

You guys got the little grey cells between my ears working, thanks for all your help, and please offer up more input!!

Chris

P.s. The interesting thing is, I can't find info anywhere on the web of people "reviving" a dry creek bed. The neighbor tells me (I just purchased this property) that the creek has been dry over 30 years. My main priority I suppose is just to get this land rocking and rollin for some fruit trees, but I'd like to bring this old creek back if I can (I'm a dreamer!)
4 years ago
Thanks Allen, I am just going to experiment with a few things and see what works. I will try building a series of Swales spaced about 15' apart going down the hill toward where the creek bed starts, each one about a foot deep, a foot and a half wide, and about 10' long. This will mean digging about 10-15 Swales...but hey Rome wasn't built in a day!! I will hugel them with varying size logs/branches on top of 1-2" of gravel, and I will just divert my rain and grey water into the Swales, or perhaps into a small pond that can overflow into the Swales.

I am not sure if what I am envisioning is possible, but I am going to try my best to get this creek flowing again. Thanks to everyone who chimed in with tips and advice. If my project is successful down the line, I will post about it.

Chris
4 years ago
Su, is the overflow from your catchment tank enough to keep water in the pond? Does the water flow through the sugar can during high rainfall, or does it puddle up?
4 years ago
Thanks everyone for responding! I'll try and address some issues that were raised:

I have 6 acres total, roughly one of which slopes from the back of my house down a hill toward the creek. The soil in the creek bed is pure sand. On one side of the hill sloping downward are a few small depressions and short drainage ditches, which look like they could be made into ponds easily enough. I'm familiar with Swales but am confused: do I need one long swale dug on contour along the whole length of the hill, or will mini-Swales a few feet long each be enough? Digging by hand is probably how I would have to do this for now, but I'll look into the yeomans plow. Long term, I'd like to clear the area and make it a fruit orchard, for which Swales would be essential. But I'd have to wait a while to do that because I imagine it would be fairly expensive.

I've attempted to attach two photos, the first being a view of the creek bed from where it ends, on top of the bank of the pond. The second is a view from where the creek appears it starts, looking up toward the house.

I am not interested in letting rainwater run off willy nilly, and rather than building an expensive catchment structure, thought I might be able to use this natural catchment instead.

This part of Georgia typically gets 50 inches a year, but this summer saw unprecedented levels of precipitation, like double the avg. Could I temporarily pipe the rain and gray water into the creek while I work my way uphill building Swales?
4 years ago
Hi everyone! On my property, there is a dry creek bed which winds about 100ft, at which point it ends in what appears to be a dry pond, with about a 4ft vertical embankment. This dry creek bed is about 150 yards down a moderate slope from mine and my
Neighbors house. The outlets for my home's grey water and gutters all spit out right behind the house over open ground.

If it's even possible, I would like to attempt to revitalize this creek bed and pond into a more established ecosystem. How could I go about this? Is it as simple as funneling all the water possible to the start of the creek with plastic drain piping? Would it be beneficial to cover the bottom of the creek somehow with rocks, logs, or to line it with plastic or something? Any advice would be much appreciated,

Chris

4 years ago
Thank you for replying, Alder! I am relived to know that a few months is all it takes for this manure to break down in a sheet mulch.

And thank you Leila, I am excited about beginning my permaculture trial by fire in the spring, as the farm I took over has been a popular local destination for produce, so it will be my business and livelihood as well! As for the peat, prior to learning anything about it myself, I bought some after reading the Lasagna Gardening book by Patricia Lanza in which she suggests you use a thin spreading of peat between each layer. I only used a little bit and only in half of the garden so I don't know if it will make any significant changes to soil pH.

Regarding the chicken manure: Is manure okay for fruit trees and blackberries as well? I have a free source for it very near to me, and hauled off quite a bit of it. I added ~1" to the soil surrounding my fig and sweet persimmon trees (leaving about 6" bare directly around the trunk) as well as leaves topped with wood chips. I'm not suffocating my trees am I?!
4 years ago