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Matthew Bauer

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since Mar 31, 2014
I have almost 5 acres of ex-farmland where I am raising my family. I have a wife and 5 children (#6 due in Sept.) We have heavy clay soil, few nutrients, LOTS of wind. Land is extremely open with no windblocks or trees. LOTS of sun and we have frequent droughts followed by way too much rain. I'm not exaggerating; rain is always feast or famine here. Quite challenging to prepare equally for both!
near San Antonio, TX
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Recent posts by Matthew Bauer

Thanks everyone for your responses -- My Internet has been down since last Wednesday, so I can only check this thread occasionally and I don't have much Internet time obviously.
But I'll "be back" sometime this week.

I think I'm going to try the pit garden idea -- I have a large "mountain" of soil (maybe 10 feet high) from a cellar I created a couple years ago. If I put it downwind of that, I should be good.
4 years ago
We just had rain a few days ago -- and already the ground is getting dry! I've had to water my new raised garden beds twice.

Actually, my other huge challenge is CLAY SOIL. Heavy clay, not the loamy kind you can deal with. The kind that turns to gumbo when wet; the kind that's super heavy.

So even if I make raised beds to deal with the clay, then things dry out even faster with the constant 25 MPH winds we get. From the South mostly, but when a "front" blows in we'll get wind from the North too.

The last 7 days the wind hasn't let up once. Every day has been what a layman would call "windy" -- 20+ MPH. We do live on a hill, among open fields and farmland. Very few trees or windbreaks of any kind. Most of the people around here grow hay or graze cattle. That's all I've seen around here for agriculture.

I was (and still am) excited about the possibilities of permaculture -- but until I can get some established large bushes/trees, erect a concrete/stone wall, or something -- I don't think I'll be able to start my food forest.

About all I've been able to do is collect a bunch of materials, and build (2) 4x8 raised garden beds and bring in materials for mulching (both on the property, and outside of it). A few square feet of mulched earth isn't going to make a food forest any time soon -- not with this wind.

Any ideas?
4 years ago
Hello all! I have 5 acres near Seguin, TX. I'm just about as far from New Braunfels as I am from Seguin. I lived in nearby Schertz for a few years, where I grew quite a few things on my city plot! More than I've grown here, actually, and I've lived on this land for 6 years.

Getting into permaculture now, so hopefully I'll change that soon...

I'm looking for specifics about plant guilds in my area.
4 years ago
No, no trees or wind breaks. I see that as one of my biggest challenges going forward. That, and dealing with the "feast or famine" water situation here.

I actually cut down a couple dozen young mesquite trees (more like bushes) because I wanted the space for fruit trees, I wanted things simpler for mowing and/or "clean", I didn't like the thorns, and I was inexperienced in the ways of permaculture.

I cut down those mesquite trees in 2008 when I first moved here. I also planted a bunch of fruit trees the same year. Many are still alive (but not thriving) while others have died.

I do have one LARGE mesquite tree on my property, a much younger one by the front entrance to my property, and several either in the wild/ditch area, or right outside my property line. Recently, I decided to have it both ways by encouraging mesquite trees on the property line (where the trunk is located the neighbors' property), but trimming any branches that hung over on my side of the property line. That way I'd have shade, windblock, etc. but wouldn't have to give up even an inch of space on my side.

As far as organic material, I actually have a hedge all along the north side of the property. There's a dropoff/ditch running right along the fenceline, and that area is "wild". Lots of thorny bushes and a few young mesquite trees. I might cut those and use for hugelkultur or Holzer raised beds. He said to use entire thorn bushes for that. Though he also suggested other uses for thorn bushes (safe haven for birds, nesting for birds). I also have some dried reed/bamboo like things -- some kind of weed that grows in the wet seasons. They grow as much as 8 or 10 feet tall, and sometimes two inches in diameter (but hollow in the center). I'll probably collect those from the wild areas and use them for mulch, paths, etc.

The ground is mostly native grass right now. Very exposed, especially during time of drought (which is at least once a year here, it seems lately). I need to get better ground cover. I'm interested in getting some pioneer plants/ground cover.

We do have a pretty good gradation/variety of elevation. Mostly flat, but the land is "rolling" so it's not like Illinois or Iowa. I think there's a 3 meter difference between the highest point and the lowest point. Great for permaculture!

Weeds? I can't identify most of them. We have lots of mesquite seedlings that grow ridiculously fast when they feel like it. As in, they go from totally non-existent above ground to 24" tall in about 2 weeks. That happened last October and I think they shoot up in May as well. They have a lot of thorns and they make it difficult to mow with a riding mower -- though Sepp has me re-thinking my mowing habits, especially how it dries out the land. On the other hand, I have to do something about chiggers, which we have here.

I was thinking of taking some pictures to try to identify the native flora here.

Let's just say I'm very much still learning, and trying to figure out the best solution for me.
4 years ago
Glad to finally join this great forum!

I have almost 5 acres in the country. We're not in any city limits. The land is actually laid out very well, too, so as far as isolation, view, etc. you'd have to own 15-20 acres to get the same deal. All the land behind our property is open farmland where farmers grow hay or graze cattle. On either side of our property, there are either unused wild plots or large multi-acre backyards that seldom see any activity. We have a lot of wilderness bordering our land, so I hope to use that to my advantage as I get into permaculture.

One neighbor has a huge pond that he dug. It holds water, but he has another pond about 5X as large that isn't finished. I'm hoping he'll finish it

My land is a clean slate. Just a bunch of open land that used to be farmland. Very heavy clay soil, no nutrients, and we get a ton of wind and sun.

So far I planted about 2 dozen fruit trees, but they either died or are just creeping along. No fruit yet, and we've been here for 6 years. I tried mexican plums, plums, apricot, peaches, apples, pears, oranges, lemons, limes and an olive tree. I also tried blueberry bushes in containers. I've had mixed success.

Looking forward to Holzer-izing at least a bunch of my land; maybe I can get my trees to take off, with the right care and companion planting.
4 years ago