Mikhail Mulbasicov

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since Jul 24, 2019
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Recent posts by Mikhail Mulbasicov

man, I google the f$%k out of this stuff many years back (mid 2010's).    Trying to find examples of boomerang swales and/or similar scheme was hard.....other than theoretical drawings in permaculture manuals.

Here are some boomerang swales !!!
(but this video sucks, it really does)

I found another real life example

location is here:

N 13.412110°
E   7.289792°

If you play around with the 'clock' on google earth, the boomerang construction started around 2016....

IMO, the boomeranges are a little too close, they need to be spaced out farther, with longer "arms" to collect more water per unit.

9 months ago
7-26-2023 UPDATE

I've kind of abandoned the project for almost a year.
The trees have grown....some in the first block are 7' to 8' high ! ....this is with no added/offsite water.
I believe the #1 problem in some of the areas, is just getting the tree high enough off the ground to
where they are not prematurely destroyed by wild life eating them ... ants, ground squirrels, rabbits, birds (quail), etc.

The latest block of waterlenz didn't do so well, many treelings died

Still happy with the progress.  Our summer rains just started.

Sorry for the shaky video

10 months ago
8-5-2022  Fri

I just now got around to re-assess the site since the big storms from the week of 7-24.   It had rained a couple of times in between and I figure it would still be muddy and/or flooded....I saw no point in going out there.

I think I planted 17 trees on this last 'wave.   I need to replant 10.  
All of the 1st and 2nd wave trees are doing great.
All kinds of weeds, etc. have sprouted and grown.

There are still just a couple of lenzes with ponded water (we got 0.24" just 24 hrs prior to my visit)....I will have to wait a couple of days for it to dry out further to be able to stand there, let alone dig.  Maybe 5 days actually.
1 year ago
update 7-24-2022

I ramble on as I normally do....apologies!
About 2-1/2 days ago we got 0.24"....and then got hit with another 1.44"....for a total of 1.68" in a 72 hour period.
I think that 2nd storm hit all at once (in 1 to 2 hours time).

Some got washed out on the west side, those were the very first set of Water Lenz from over 1-1/2 years ago.
The plan was for these earthworks to establish trees, and once the mequites and paloverde were on their way, that they would survive and grow like other trees in the area.   So I do not know if I am going to reconstruct those particular Lenes.   Those were put in less shallow, or less pronounced .... so the berm wasn't as high.  That first set, the trees are doing really good.

The middle set, most of the trees are well on their way.  
This amount of water should last the summer into fall I'd imagine.... If the water drains in quickly enough, and the smaller trees don't drown, I anticipate to good growth period.   I pray they don't die.
Washouts can be fixed.

The most recent set .... many seedling are not visible, and therefore considered fatalities.
I think I planted them too soon .... 'too soon' as in the seedling were too small and fragile, and 'too soon' in the summer, to where they'd be exposed to the brutal heat and dry month of June before the rains came.   Doesn't matter, in a week the ground should be firm enough to replant some I have at the house.  I think I will try the Parkinsona where the ants keep eating the other seedlings (mesquite) down to stems....  The water lenes should be thoroughly 'charged' with water.

22' dia circle x 1/8 of a foot of rain = 355 gallons of rain.   Put it this way, when I initially planted the third wave (17 tree sites), I used 500 gallon out of water trailer to presoak and plant and soak in that set of trees.   355x17 = about 6000 gallons are soaking in right now.

Also, google update the aerials again.
North is up.
The west two rows were the first set/wave.
That's were several were washed out.

The next two rows (tight pair in the middle), were the next set.
I think most all the treelings are still there, and doing fine.
Maybe one lens got washed out...easy to repair with a shovel.

The eastern 3 rows are the latest set, the lenes were dug/formed in the early spring,
and planted late spring, early summer.   Many of the seedlings were dead.
They hung on for a couple of months, as I visited a while ago ...  stems were still green and pliable, leaves eaten off (or fell off due to heat shock).
I thought they would return once the rains came, but appear some have completely vaporized because I don't even see the stem poking up thru the water here.  Oh well, ground should be plenty moist enough to replant.

Also note, the eastern 3 rows ..... at the time of the pic, the lenes were dug, but not backfilled.   You can see the open hole in the center (sunlight, making it to the hole's bottom).   I was really hoping to catch a storm at this phase, as the really charge a bunch of water deep into the soil.  Before planting.
If you can get the water down deep, it will stay in that clay for a long time (maybe pseudo-forever).

I have thought to come with a different drilling tool, that would yield a much narrower, but deeper pilot hole in the center of each site .... and leave them open for a considerable length of time to let the ground REALLY get charged up with water.   Idea to get a deep root system to hide from the dry surface.
1 year ago

David N Black wrote:I love this project; it couldn't have any higher overlap with my permie interests.  I believe that a huge swath of our ecological problems are downstream of the simple (yet difficult) problem of establishing pioneer tree species where it is dry.  Your lens idea seems great and I appreciate all the updates you are sharing.

Have you come across this paper?


These trials were done in Brawley in 1979-1980 and they took pretty good notes.  A couple points that interested me:

- Total water supplied to the trees was ~30% of potential evaporation in the area, using a deep soak method similar to what your lenses provide
- Prosopis velutina performed quite poorly compared to many of the other mesquite species gathered from around the world, particularly Prosopis alba
- Wild variation in performance between seeds harvested from an individual ancestor
- Parkinsonia aculeata did pretty damn well for only having a single data point, and it looks like yours are doing well too
- How the hell did they get such large trees so quickly?

I'll check out the paper.  Parkinsonia gets bad rap, but it grows so quickly.  
Also, the amount of leaf litter is impressive, the stem fall (drought or cold), the long skinny stems fall out and act similarly to pine needles ....they get tangled up and stay put rather than blow around too easily.  (mulch, organic matter, etc).

Also, I tried some velvet mesquite, and they are slow growing .... some go fast, some slow.
I tried some honey mesquite in the middle of the project, they seem to grow faster.
Chilean's? from what I've seen, those the pods taste like chalk.....so not interested.   They might be too dependent on water too.

A lot of neo-naturalists in Tucson turn their noses up at the non-native varieties of mesquite (or other trees/plants) ....even Texas honey mesquite (which is not native here).   They don't want it in the desert, or in the cities/urban areas.   I think that's a big mistake.   With climate change bearing down on us, I don't think we can pick and choose ... and try to 'restore' the desert ecology to what it was historically long ago for some kind of "biodiverse-posterity-award" or something.   Things are unraveling quite fast now ..... its do or die time.   Its never going to be what it once was (cattle, mixing or transplanting species, fire, man, removal of predator's, farming, pumping of water tables, removal of native peoples, etc.).   We need to terraform the ground that can be easily done ...

I keep trying out Moringa each year on the dry California coast and I keep being disappointed.  The plant itself seems to have so much promise, but I am not yet convinced they can do well in truly dry climates.  "Tropical - drought tolerant" means something very different than "Sonoran Desert tolerant", haha.

For what it's worth though, here is a family growing Moringa in Fresno, maybe they have come across a tougher cultivar or know some tricks?


Lastly, the southwest has had it pretty rough, rainfall-wise, the last few years.  The success you are having is exceptional when keeping that in mind.


Moringa ..... I think it gets too cold in the desert.   I tried those at this site two.   Bugs would destroy them at first.   One took, and quickly grew to 5' or 6' tall, then the winter got it.   Killed it all the way down to below the surface.   Even the ones at my house do good.  (regular care, water, etc)

1 year ago
I would echo Margaret's thoughts on the tree wells.

Those are established trees, with roots extending OUT past the drip line of the canopy.

Your site seems like boomerang swales would be a good option.

2 years ago

Kari Tyler wrote:

Hi Rose,
My husband and I are looking into buying property in Concho/ St. Johns area, and we're looking at doing earthbags as well. I have a question about the plans that you found from Owen Geiger, did you need to have the plans reviewed and stamped by an engineer or were you able to get approved just from the plans from Owen? If you did get the plans stamped by an engineer, would you mind sharing who you used?

How is your build coming along?

Thanks, Kari

According to this, I think you do have to have sealed plans for Apache County.  Hopefully those Owen Gieger drawings are pre-engineered or something.


...clicked on <Alternative Materials> ...brings me to :


...under #3, Earth bag or Rammed earth, "submit engineered plans".

Will see what Rose says....
2 years ago

jer ander wrote:Nice. I was about throw away some pvc too. Ill try that

For my situation, I think the 4" PVC would work out good.  

Would just need to stake it.   Once the tree is...  I don't know 3' or 4' high ....it should slide off while the branches/stems are still wirey.    
And then I can reuse it for the next batch (stake and pipe tube).  

PVC burns from the sun, but the vertical orientation should help with that I hope.

I was thinking about cutting the top at an aggressive slant to let the winter sun (south) in more, and then the light can "bounce" around a bit on the inside (diffuse is the proper term I believe).

I have another project up in Apache County up high, where deer (and elk!) might be a problem .... that and I won't be able to continually monitor the site.
I might be able to do 5 or 6 footers there for fruit trees.....
2 years ago
4-25-2022 update:

They posted some new aerial photographs.   They are quite crisper than the last batch ....
This shows only the next two rows (2021); since this picture was taken I've put in 3 more rows (a pair, then a single row) and a few scattered trees along the southern property line.  About `17 tree sites on this last round.   You can see the recent sediment in the center of each circle from the recent rains.   Some weeds and desert marigold, etc growing in there also.   I need to definitely sow some desert reveg mix just prior to this year's monsoon.

Moranga was complete toast.   I replanted a Palo Verde in its place, the old Moranga root was completely dry and brittle.
As I dug down to about 12" in depth, I could faintly detect some moisture in the hole.
One other mesquite that was eating by ants/bugs I also replaced with a Mexican Palo Verde.
All other trees seem to be doing OK.

The new batch (the new 17), are all doing ok.  We add mulch, and then I hit with one last watering (about 10-15 gals).   This will be the last watering they will ever receive.    When I planted this new batch, I ran out of protective wire screen, but had some 6" pvc pipe and used them as impromptu tree-tubes.   Problem is they weren't very tall, maybe only 14" out of the ground when push a couple inches into the wet soil...... all three of these treelings that got the tube protection had been chewed on at the very top (tube were open).   I BELIEVE THE (one of the) TOP PROBLEM(s) FOR REVEGITATING A BARREN LANDSCAPE IS ANIMALS/PESTS.  None of these would have survived without the wire protection (or a tree tube).
This is an interesting video:  

There are a few decent sized trees (lol at "decent") on the property; the scavenge water from the surface .... there is no ponding.
It must have rained well enough for several consecutive seasons in a row to create enough continual vegetation to take the pressure off of those tree to get above gopher / jackrabbit height.

MORE ON TUBES:  I'm pretty dum: I have access to a lot of scrap 4" PVC pipe .... it just dawned me this last week to use it as protective tree tubes.
They are white on the inside, and would reflect a lot of light around inside (in the spring and fall).   I bet a 30" tall tube would defeat most rabbits and rodents.  

Also, its interesting to note the scant few existing mesquite trees around have a few catkins (flowers for beans this season).
It didn't rain much this winter, I believe this catkin-flowering is working off of last summer's rains.....and the water trapped in the nearby WaterLenez.
There is a much larger mesquite father south of where The Work has begun, it has zero catkins of yet.  
Prior to The Work, I remember being disappointed that there were no bean to seen from any of these trees, as I wanted to grow the treelings from the native/existing trees and never saw any beans to harvest.

For instance, that cluster of trees in the middle of row #3 and #4 are probably benefitting from water collecting in the nearby WaterLenzes .... (I remember hitting some finger-sized roots in when one of those were dug).

Also: saw a cool roadrunner.

I really need to make a hard push in May and June to beat the monsoon season.
I have to fence the back portion; I find time to get the machine out there to form the circles.
My son has a back injury, and his sports season has ended because of that (the prescribed rest) .... so I can't rely on him for help...lolz, figures !
Its going to get hot soon.
2 years ago
In AZ myself ...  so very interested in this thread.

14-19 inches is a ton of water (compared to my 9").

What's your elevation and latitude?  I imagine you are up high.

Greenhouse will help a bit, Sure the heat in the winter is nice, but also from moisture won't escape so fast....blocks drying wind, etc.

Might need to ventilate in the summer of course.
2 years ago