Michael Jameson

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since Mar 12, 2018
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Recent posts by Michael Jameson

Due to the availability of large amounts of wood chips becoming available for free as well as the use of a neighbors loader to spread them, decided to focus on a thick mulch layer between swales, rather than attempting to irrigate to keep a cover alive.

In the middle of each row I am putting perennial beds for raspberry, asparagus, and strawberry.  These beds will be a few feet wide, mounded with horse manure also available from a neighbor.  Goal is to put deep mulch and beds in place now to weather through the winter, and plant next spring.

This will give a narrow strip of active root activity between the tree rows, with drip irrigation on the tree and perenial crop rows, for minimal but sustained water usage. I like placing the perrenial crops between the rows as it consolidates the water and soil activity and ups the density.  My understanding of these 3 crops in particular is that some evential partial shade (fruit trees were just planted this spring) will not greatly diminish their output. Tree rows are 20-25 feet apart, leaving quite a bit of room.

Keeping the strawberry and raspberry in more ttraditional rows ( rather than betwixt the trees) will hopefully allow for easier management, i.e. protecting the strawberry from rabbits via row covers, and mowing or string trimming to keep the raspberries from taking over with minimal effort, as well as ability to add row trellising.

Context is everything, trying to drive decisions by what is doable and available.  The loader and apparently bottomless free chips becoming available has changed the equation.

I dont want continous carbon importation, but the material exists as a waste product and has to be put somewhere, it might as well go into the soil Im tending to.

Anyway, thats my proposed design and thought process.
5 months ago

steve bossie wrote:we have alot of junk fish species in our waters here. i catch 100 of them . put in a sealable barrel w some molasses and let them ferment for 3 months. leave the lid a little lose for gas to escape. even the bones disappear. makes the best fish emulsion!

do you chop them up / chum them, or just throw them in whole?  How big are they?  just trying to get a sense of how much processing is involved.
6 months ago
Well, my luck is changing.  My craigslist ad finally got a bite.  30 yards of ramial chips coming up from SF for free.
6 months ago
We mow.....

so we can see rattlesnakes
to reduce fire danger
to maybe reduce ticks
to reduce rat habitat around house
to reduce the amount of crap the dogs fur collects
just in general, so we can walk around without fighting tall grass weeds and bramble

Cant come up with any others right now...but for a country home, it makes sense to me.
6 months ago

Ryan Sanders wrote:I am also on the long patient journey to more shade and wind protection in a dry climate. I would definitely second the nursery idea. It has been really easy and allows me to cheaply grow more locally adapted perennials.  I just make a point of collecting seeds in the fall.
I have adopted a couple strategies:
   -Plant the riparian zones: shade begets shade, so move the edge out slowly.  I can mostly neglect these plantings.
   -Drip irrigation for perennial establishment in full sun.  I run one poly pipe with drippers that can be connected to a garden hose a few times a year when the trees are stressed.  Even plant spacing means you can reuse for a new row once established.
   -Individual larger plants: These get babied often watered by hand with 6"+ of mulch. I only plant a couple per year, so they can get the necessary attention.

From a pioneer species perspective, locusts and siberian pea shrub have been the top performers outside the riparian zone.

All your points speak to your experience, all completely applicable to me.  Can't try to do too much at once, when things need a lot of help getting going.  Expand the edges.  Great stuff.  
6 months ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:
Even annuals are slow-growing in your locale?  I planted native wildflower seed in one bald spot on my place and they made complete cover in a couple seasons with no irrigation.  Some were annuals, some perennials.  Shrubs and trees are much slower.

Ive established wildflowers in one strip where I irrigate them lightly. I broadcast them widely (with high hopes) in areas with no water and have a few stragglers here and there.  One naturally does not see very full stands of wildflowers around here outside of spring.   I do not think they dominate or thrive during the long summers.  If they are watered, sure.

6 months ago
Hi, thank you! Those look like some great leads. Your post helps me order my thoughts very much with regards to sequencing.

I guess I was trying to ask the question somewhat generically, but for specifics...northern California zone 9b, although I believe its trending to zone 10.  15 to 30" of rain.  Oak savannah.  Rolling foothills.  Heavy, heavy clay that has cracks several feet deep in the summer.  Dry and hot. I have water, plenty of water.

During the wet to dry cycling,  the clay shrinks enough that my house shifts and doors dont close right.

That was my first goal, to lessen the swings in ground moisture to a livable level.  Swales and many trees have been planted.  The question is what to put between those swales.  Deep wood chips, or irrigate and grow ground cover.  

My desire, I suppose, is to ultimately have a little eden of shade, birds, butterflies, bees, and fruit.  And nice soil, that doesnt crack.  I dont mind adding inputs, but ultinately Id like it to reach an equilibrium.

6 months ago
Hi Tyler, natives adapted to these conditions are highly drought tolerant, which is great.  But they are anything but fast growing in my experience.  They wont be generating mulch for me, which is fine, Im happy they survive.
They dont seem to do much for the soil.  Which maybe be makes sense, they are well adapted to this soil and this environment.  

6 months ago
Nope, mulch isnt free here.  I suppose owing to the Savannah landscape, not enough generated vs the need.  I pay around $10 a yard delivered for ramial chips.  I did 100 yards last year, will do another 100 this year.  Along with around 100 100# bales at $8 each.

Carbon aint cheap, around these parts.  But it appears to be whats needed.  Or water.  Or both.  None of it free or cheap.
6 months ago
Great comment TJ, thank you for the time.  Increasing shade and capturing and sinking water is exactly where I think one has to start.  I have built swales, and planted trees.

I trust in time they will provide great benefit.  On human scale, Im left with a lot of time on my hands and dead ground to look at

The genesis of this is wondering, what is the best implementation between the tree aisles? And maybe the answer now...is different than the answer later.

As best I can figure...while it has full sun, until I have some tree shade...perhaps a very thick wood chip mulch is the way to go.  It will add organic matter to my clay soil over time.  Maybe I can grow some pumpkins and cucumbers in there, to take advantage of the full sun, add some life, creare some food, without requiring too much water..

Over time, as the trees grow in, say in 5 years time, and the wood chips break down...maybe my little ecosystem will be in better shape for more widespread root activity and I can try to nudge things in that direction a little further.

I struggle a bit with what seems logical as to the bounds of what compost tea can do, at least in relation to substantial dryness.  My land is not disturbed. Its never been tilled or sprayed or logged.  At least I believe not.  Its just dry as hell for many many months.  I have trouble believing its microbiome is not colonized with whatever survives and thrives here, or at least I struggle with reasons why this might be.  If I understood more, and understood how I could "stair step" my way to success by adding biology and simultaneously slightly tweaking the environment to make it more amenable to it..that makes a ton of sense to me, so far as speeding things up.  I guess that is what we are all trying to do, ultimately.

6 months ago