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Jonathan D Davis

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since Nov 10, 2016
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forest garden
Aguanga, California
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Recent posts by Jonathan D Davis

Hi Kyle,

I've been working on a permaculture home/farm/homestead on 20 acres in Aguanga for the past three years. There aren't many like-minded folks up here so I'd love to get in touch if you're still following this thread. It would be great to trade notes and share resources!
1 year ago
We're in a similar boat in Riverside County - just next door. We CAN build on our lot but code enforcement is on our backs about every little detail and now we have to build a house and quickly. We received a polite little notice in March of this year telling us that we can't live or build on our property until we have a "house". We've lived here three years, growing vegetables and honey for market, in a travel trailer with an outdoor shower and independent composting toilet.

The one great choice that I made was hiring a consultant. I asked around our local community and found someone who can really defend against the county government. His fee was a paltry $500 to keep the county off of our backs - and the fee is a flat rate regardless of how long it draws on. All county complaints come through his office and he just fends them off. I would google "code mitigation" for SB county and see what pops. It's the best $500 we've ever spent! If you want to PM me I can send you my consultant's contact info but I'm not certain that he would work in San Bernardino. I think that relationships with county officials are the grease that keeps the wheels moving.

With knowledgable representation you can go to council meetings, private meetings, or (preferably not) to court and not have to worry about filing the wrong paperwork. California is great but does it ever love it's bureaucracy (and the fees!). You can do all of this on your own but I feel more confident with someone who know the building and environmental codes in and out.  

Hold tight! There's a way out of this. You just need to find it and I'm sure you will.
1 year ago
I'm at 3500 feet in Aguanga, Riverside County. I've tried quite a few different things over the past three years. Apples of all sorts seem to do extremely well as do apricots and plums. My peaches seem to be stuck in a rut that I can't figure out - the aridity maybe or perhaps how exposed they are. Our most vigorous trees are some sort of white mulberry (not sure what kind yet) and our California sycamores. Both of these like quite a bit of water. Pomegranates, grapes and figs all do really well too. The pomegranates and grapes can really take some serious drought. I have two grape vines that only get rainwater and the drips of mist that accumulates on a roof and they are still green in August.

I bet these would all perform similarly for you out in Crestline. I've been trying to push the limits of our climate with citrus, guava, and avocados but I need a little more development to make these work - some thermal mass for frost protection. Check out Tree of Life nursery for more options that require little water. The "Roger's Red" California native grape is a really great one and super easy to propagate from cuttings. Have fun planting!
1 year ago

Brian L. Cooper wrote:Am I correct in presuming that the third of an acre mentioned is a part of a larger piece of property?



Yes, this is part of a 20 acre property but we have set approximately 50 percent aside for conservation. The food forest that this 1/3 acre piece will be a part of is approximately 2.5 acres. 1 acre of this was established two years ago.
2 years ago
That's a nightshade (Solanaceae Family) for sure. Looks quite close to a tomatillo or cape gooseberry.
2 years ago
I empathize! I have found bindweed control to be more mentally than physically exhausting. I always felt like Sisyphus when pulling that weed.

Woven polyethylene landscape fabric is an idea too. You could remove mulch from your garden, install fabric and cut holes for your existing plants, and replace the mulch over top. It would be an expensive option but might provide a faster solution.
2 years ago
So I am being forced to grade the 1/3 of an acre that will soon become part of my food forest. I have been growing vegetables and cover crops on the site trying to rapidly build soil for the past three years. We live at 3500 feet in arid Southern California so building soil organic matter and capturing/preserving water are primary concerns. The site is currently a six-percent grade with south-facing aspect.

About six weeks ago we received a nice letter in the mail from code enforcement essentially telling us that we cannot live on our land if we don't have a house. We always planned to build a house with all of the required permits but were hoping to delay for another few years. Unfortunately, our county has planes and helicopters and a need to collect fees. So we are proceeding with the house construction this summer.

We require large volumes of soil to serve as fill to grade the homesite. We did not foresee this need and do not have anywhere to remove soil from except my current garden/future food forest. I do not love the idea of heavy machinery in my garden but it seems necessary. So we will scrape the topsoil into a massive mountain and then proceed to grade my garden and excavate to provide fill for the house. There is an upside to this aside from a reasonably level orchard - the bulldozer is capable of ripping the soil to a depth of three feet after removing the fill material.

My question is: Aside from leveling and ripping/subsoiling, are there things that we can do with the bulldozer to improve our future food forest?
We will be paying by the hour so extensive operations are out of the question but I do not want to regret that I didn't invest two or three hours of dozer work for a massive improvement in productivity.

Are there other quick things that you would do with a dozer on your property if you had access to the machinery?

2 years ago
I second the sheet mulching with cardboard and/or polyethylene! Deep mulching with organic materials seems to do little for field bindweed. I had a thick patch of the stuff on 3000 square feet of garden and the deeper I laid the straw the faster it seemed to grow. Before I took the plot over several people had even tried using repeated applications of glyphosate without any luck. Adding a layer that will block new stems from reaching light seems to me to be the best option.

Whatever you do... don't let it grow further or you'll be hurting next season. I know that some problems with "weeds" simply require a paradigm shift but I would never want bindweed in my garden. I would tolerate it in sparing quantities in a pasture, perhaps. The shade of the competing grasses and forbs would probably keep the stuff in check.

And do not (!) till the soil. I have seen this mistake. The stems seem to root quite readily and tilling just causes multiplication. If you can't manage to mulch with cardboard this season then just keep on top of pulling the stems. It'll take some time but you can definitely reclaim your garden space!!! Good luck!

2 years ago
This solution isn't a fence but it does solve the problem of bark nibbling/girdling by rabbits and rodents. I first thought of this when I discovered that several trees in my orchard had been completely girdled. I tried tree wrap fabric and the rabbits went right through it. Commercial tree tubes were too expensive...

So I bought 200 feet of black corrugated 3" drain pipe. I laid the whole roll out on the driveway and used a jigsaw to cut a slit along the length of the whole 200 feet. I then used a sharp utility knife to cut the pipe into 18" sections. I simply eased each 18" section of pipe around the trunk of a tree and it definitely did the trick. In four or five years the tree will outgrow the pipe and you simply remove and reuse. Cheap and easy if you're dealing with rabbits. Deer... I don't have to deal with.
2 years ago

Mike Jay wrote:
Do you have power at your water tank?  Finding a large diameter timer valve that doesn't require power or water pressure will be a challenge.  Most watering timers that you put on garden hoses rely on the city water pressure to help them actuate on and off.  There are solar powered timer valves that don't need water pressure but they are more like 3/4" in diameter.  



I've got power for days up at the tank - it's the only place my county would let me bring electricity since we have not yet built our house. The pressure tank for our property currently feeds our "starter" market garden but it has its limitations. This is why I'm comfortable with irrigating large areas with low-flow drip irrigation. A large holding tank will solve these issues and allow me to move the garden farther away... hopefully!

And yes, those 3/4" valves don't seem to let much through. I tried to use one for this year's garden and it wouldn't let enough water through. Thankfully I do have 100 amps to make things happen!
2 years ago