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Summary

Once again, Paul calls someone who paid him for a consultation on their land – this time Jennie in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.

The land is almost completely flat and desert-like with only 12 inches of precipitation per year, with a lot of that being in the form of snow.  There is a complete lack of trees and not much humus in the soil, leaving it mostly gravel and a surplus of rocks.  She’s already starting to remedy this by getting in compost made from untreated wood and food scraps from a local sawmill and restaurants, a majority of which is even organic.  Paul personally wouldn’t use it, opting to use a Ruth Stout technique of simply emptying compost buckets onto earthworks and covering the resulting slop with a couple of inches of wood chips or straw.  Unfortunately this runs into issues with mice, for which the dogs are of no help, and Jennie is allergic to cats, so Paul suggest getting a terrier to teach the other two that mice are kibble.

Paul’s usual stratagem of spamming hugelkultur hits a snag from there being next to no trees on the property, but she can get beetle-killed pine in from the surrounding area.  First off: berms.  They’ll block the omnipresent, omnidirectional wind and make growing plants actually possible.  Seeing as the wind comes from every direction, he’d surround about 2 acres of the property with 15ft tall, 30ft wide berms with a 5-8ft wide road about half way up them.  Then put a 4-5foot tall fence on top of the berm to make the fence effectively tall enough to keep out any local deer, antelope, or cattle as the existing fence is only barely enough to keep out cattle.  This’ll leave the 2 acres as somewhat of a wind-and-deer-free oasis.  

Relevant Threads

Southwestern USA regional forum
Rockies regional forum

Greening the Desert forum

Earthworks forum

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COMMENTS:
 
Edward Norton
pollinator
Posts: 509
Location: New Jersey, USA
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I really enjoyed both parts. I'm studying for a PDC, so it's really interesting to hear Paul talk through the options in such a natural way. I wish Jennie all the best with her permaculture project and her courage to take this on after such a tragic loss.

Any chance we can see some of the pictures of Jennie's place?

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
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do you make the berms on contour or straight?
 
He does not suffer fools gladly. But this tiny ad does:
the permaculture bootcamp in winter (plus half-assed holidays)
https://permies.com/t/149839/permaculture-projects/permaculture-bootcamp-winter-assed-holidays
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