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New Mexico Permaculture

brett diercks


Joined: Jun 15, 2011
Posts: 25
Location: Southern Illinois
I was wondering if New Mexico was a viable place to use permaculture. In New Mexico there is tons of undeveloped land for very cheap.

Thanks,

Joe
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1527
Location: zone 7
    
  11
you can do permaculture any place you feel like it, there is no wrong place.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
brett diercks


Joined: Jun 15, 2011
Posts: 25
Location: Southern Illinois
Is there a good amount of plants that will grow there without irrigation? I am just looking for a cheap startup and don't have the funds to spend on a project as that.
Steven Baxter


Joined: Mar 22, 2011
Posts: 254
Look for native plants and drought tolerant plants to start out.
Start to make ways to collect and harvest water.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5320
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Are you looking in the mountains, or are you looking in the south, in the Chihuahuan Desert?  There seems to be a good amount of information about Chihuahuan desert plants (I'm studying them for plants I might grow in my dry gardens).  Gary Paul Nabhan is an expert on useful desert plants, you might want to look at some of his books.

http://garynabhan.com/i/

wtufc.org/downloads/EdiblePlantsWildResourcesCD-KathBrooks_UofA.pdf

http://museum2.utep.edu/chih/gardens/list/species.htm#A

If you decide to look for land in the region, make sure you get a parcel with varied topography (not flat) and especially with an arroyo (seasonally flooding creek) - this will give you the best opportunity for rainwater harvesting.

Also check out the books and videos by Brad Lancaster about rainwater harvesting and growing native foods.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iQ-FBAmvBw

http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/


Idle dreamer

Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1527
Location: zone 7
    
  11
start with building a healthy soil, preferably with plants and micro organisms. then the list of plants you can grow increases by a lot, with far less effort and care too.
brett diercks


Joined: Jun 15, 2011
Posts: 25
Location: Southern Illinois
Thank you for all of those links. I couldn't find any good resources.

Hubert are you saying that I would want to start with local plants and then slowly transist into no natives?
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 5836
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
  87
Native plants are your most likely to thrive in a harsh environment.  Once you have a good solid foundation growing, you can try adding non-natives that you think will do well there.  I would not suggest phasing out the natives, as they are what will attract the native microbes and beneficial insects.  In a harsh climate, you need them in your soil if you hope to have success.  Once they begin to do well, you can add adaptable non-natives to your mix.

A good place to look for plants native to the SW is
http://www.nativeseeds.org/catalog/index.php?cPath=1_18&osCsid=1gv0c70qhtnml5dfgpgpu7p8n0

They are very active in trying to help the native farmers growing traditional crops.
brett diercks


Joined: Jun 15, 2011
Posts: 25
Location: Southern Illinois
Thank you for that link, I can never find any sources for local edible food. I will definitely keep this link for future reference.
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
      It is a hard question. Geof lawton greened the desert quickly but he had enough funds to put in a half metre of mulch that is about half a yard a foot and a half or he was working in a group and that allowed him to organise those around him easily and get them to get mulch off those who were throwing it away or burning it. He obviously had the use of carts that could transport it-
      He put in a microdrip system on th econtours and he had the equipment to build swales and a water cathment area.
      If you did not have any of all that then making the desert fruit would be so much slower i should think.

          He also, in another place, put up a shade house with a system a man on these forums i think it was, maybe just someone on you tube used, which is to dig a big trench that will hold watern along the length of the centre of the green house, in this case shade cloth house.
          They use green houses more in deserts than in cold places, they serve to stop water escaping and as the winters aren't too cold they can grow vegetables in winter in green houses. 
          The idea of people buying land in the desert  is a bit scarey, it makes it so much harder for them to get going. I suppose nations are built by brave people who go off with nothing and make a go of it.
      The safest is to be a millionaire who tries to make a living in a desert, they wont be much effected if they fail. agri rose macaskie. 
brett diercks


Joined: Jun 15, 2011
Posts: 25
Location: Southern Illinois
I was thinking about the mulch situation. I could run an add or something of the sort in a newspaper that says I'll take any mulch, hay, biomass, and lawn clippings for no charge. That may bring in some free materials to work with.

Is there any good books about irrigation with permaculture? Is Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond good for this subject?
Lee Einer


Joined: May 08, 2011
Posts: 169
BarefootJoe wrote:
I was thinking about the mulch situation. I could run an add or something of the sort in a newspaper that says I'll take any mulch, hay, biomass, and lawn clippings for no charge. That may bring in some free materials to work with.

Is there any good books about irrigation with permaculture? Is Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond good for this subject?


Joe, it all depends on where in New Mexico. The land ranges from Sonoran desert basin to Ponderosa forests to the vast expanses of the great plains.

You can get really cheap land if you look. But it won't likely be great land.

What it will likely be, depending on where, is baked desert, badly overgrazed prairie land with erosional issues, land atop a mesa or on a rocky slope, etc., mostly in the middle of nowhere.

I walked a property with a friend of mine several years ago, several miles outside of Watrous, NM. It was representative of the land you can get here for cheap. $70,000 for 140 acres, far from anything, rolling plains that were severely overgrazed ranchland. The topsoil was long gone, very little grew there except mangy scabs of blue grama.

The deal fell through, or I might have gone for it, figuring that for that kind of money I could afford to get an acre or two productive and improve the rest as time allowed. But it would take a helluva lot of work and know-how.

I would strongly recommend that if you decide to buy in NM, you really know the ins and outs of the land you're buying, the community you're getting involved with, the water issues,  and what your plan is to make the land productive.
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1527
Location: zone 7
    
  11
Hubert are you saying that I would want to start with local plants and then slowly transist into no natives?


no there are dozens of other plants that build soil that are not native. but use what you have or can get.

like others said though, it all depends on where you are and what the land is like which determines what the best course of action is.
Lee Einer


Joined: May 08, 2011
Posts: 169
BarefootJoe wrote:
Is there a good amount of plants that will grow there without irrigation? I am just looking for a cheap startup and don't have the funds to spend on a project as that.


Hi, Joe - whereabouts in New Mexico are you looking to settle?

This is an important question.

New Mexico ecosystems and climate vary from low desert, to high desert, prairie, juniper-pinon forest, to ponderosa forest. Some areas are mild in the winter, blistering in the summer. Others have relatively mild summers with winter lows in the -20 range. If you go by climate zone numbers, we likely range from 4 to 11. Geographically, we have mountains as well as prairies and desert basin, and you might be near sea level or at 8,000 feet elevation. Soils range from desert sand to clay.

So our suggestions about how to grow in New Mexico may not be that helpful unless you can point us to a specific area, climate, geography, etc.
brett diercks


Joined: Jun 15, 2011
Posts: 25
Location: Southern Illinois
I would be wanting to build in the desert type region of New Mexico due to cheap price and the challenge.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 5836
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
  87
A good crop to grow in that dessert is Lycium exsertum, which is the North American species of Chinese Goji berries.  It is native to the Sonoran Dessert region.  You can eat it fresh, or dried like raisins.  They can dry on the vine, but I would not suggest that, as the birds and other wildlife will eat them all before they're "raisins".
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
barefoot joe, your wanting challenge is heartwarming. If you buy a smaller place that way you an be left with a lot of money for mulch and digging swales and such.
  I have just read about velacreations wicking beds they sound as if they could be useful in a desert.
People who talk about permaculture about living with little about a moral not taking too much of your share of the world but they are not talking much of exchanging work on these forums, which is a great idea. I suppose it means you can put a rich mans earth works into your land with a poor mans pocket. I am a woman which makes me pratical i like the bits about permaculture that help people who dont have much money. I like being encouraged to be self sufficent, but I dont enjoy people gettign holier than thou about being poor, partly beause i am very worried about global warming and the earth being ruined and so dont have time for things that might get in the way of those goals turn a lot of people off permakulture but i like it in there as a goal. agri rose macaskie. 
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
  My observation of over grazing here has made me think that it leads not to desertat least not at first but to barren lands, lands that aren't producing because there are no nutrients in their soil, rather than becauxe they lack water which does fall here in winter.
  It is rottiing vegetable matter that makes nitrogen in a form that is availiable to plants and so if the vegetation is eaten and re-eaten so often it can't recover then the plants die and then there are no roots in the soil or plants whose dead leaves or dead stems and leaves can rot in the soil, so soon there is no nitrogen in the soil, so even if a seed falls it cant grow.
  When the plants  have been destroyed the live stock wont tarry for long on that peice of ground so they wont be leaving much manure there either.
  The sheep here are taken back to the stables at night so half of what they eat gets dropped in the stables and not returned to the land.
    As the vegetation stops growing in these places the soil also gets blown away the last act of this drama is that all you ge4t down to the rock. the plaes i know that have lost all their soil or been bared of vegetation are where there is at least 700 mm of rainfall a year, which is quite a lot.

    So you need to think, "is this land maybe even shorter on nutrients than it is on water"?
  Permaculture deals with this problem by having the permaculturist mulch heavily, plant lots of plants including lots of nitrogen produing ones propopsis cineria is a food produing and forage tree tha tfixes nitrogen in arab and indian countries, and keep hens or ducks but there is no harm in underlining the fact that lack of nutrients might be a major problem for the prodution of vegetation in a desert it will make you more seriouse about restoring the nutrients to the soil.
 
      In deserts manure and fertilisers salt up the ground easily. there is not so much water as there is in other places to wash the  salts of fertilisers down into the soil and to watercourses so it aumuilates wher you place the fertiliser or manure whihc ican also salt up land, so you have to play more of a balancing act about having enough fertiliser but not too much in the desert than you do in other places. As mulches fertilize gently, if you stick to permacultures methods that should be alright
.
    Here, up in the mountains, where everything looks pure and natural and beautiful i have found the most extensive use of herbicides ¡maginable. I think in order to totally do for vegetation and so reduce fire risk because they are maniatical about fire risk here. 

      The use of herbicides should not have suprised me so much, it is natural that the modern and scientific should appeal to those who have had so little of the modern as those who live in villages haqve had till now here.
          It is suprising that though the shepherds are not rich they spend their money on herbicides. A alternative idea to imagining it is the shepherds who use herbicides is that it is those who look after hunting grounds, large bits of hillside usually common land are rented out to groups who shot, who maybe use herbicides to reduce the bush on the slopes. The cistus bushes start to grow very thick on the slopes after a while and walking through them is uncomfortable, they dont have thorns but their woody branches scratch you and close your path. You should get any bit of land you are looking at tested for herbicides. If the soil is badly poisoned then fungi might be your best bet to revive the soil. agri rose macaskie.
brett diercks


Joined: Jun 15, 2011
Posts: 25
Location: Southern Illinois
Would WOOFing in this region for a year or two be sufficient to learn the proper techniques and methods?
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
Woofing might teach methods of planting and knowing how to grow individual plants is important, i had some rotten potatoes lying around in my garden having tried to plant vegetable shop potatoes and them having some how come to the surface and apparently potatoes with illnesses can effect potatoes that people from miles around have planted around as well as havign a negative effect on the potatoes you try to grow in the future if you grow bad potatoes then any good ones you put in that ground will come up bad, you do need to knw about each plant you grow.
    I thought of buying vegetable shop to use as seed potatoes  and experienced gardeners know that such are the problems associated with diseases in potatotes that it is best to spend the money on bought potatoe seed while  in the case of other plants collecting your own seed may workb though it is best to read about seed collection in all cases or you will ned up with melons that have crossed with cucumbers and taste horrible.
    Sepp Holzers whole system is maybe so healthy he can use his own seed potatoes. A claim for organic farming is that with healthy soil disease is greatly reduced. I  think this means tha tas in your body there are enough healthy flors in the soil or in your bodsy to keep pahtogens at bay till you die while if there is an imb alance in the system pahtogens thrive. SOos sepp holzer may not have to worry much about his seed potatoes. 
      That is the sort of thing or an expert in whom you trust tells you or you find out for yourself at your own expense which is to say after years of trail and error. There are sects who say follow us because if you dont it is all trail and error, we know the right way so give up the effort of using your own head and truest in us, this is not a good is idea, even established religions can at moments in their histories go of at some  prety amazing and not very positive tangents.  If people just walked around believing everything they were told humans would never have got anywhere so it is good to find out for yourself but it is also expensive and it is also true that we stand on the soldiers of those who went before, apparently the industrial revolution came about because of patenting, before patents a blacksmith here might have had a revolutionauyyr way of solving some problem with a peice of machinery and another one there  but there ideas got lost when they died, when ideas got patented they got saved and could be com¡bined and used to make new things.
    If a person you consider a fuddy duddy, who maybe you have found to be wrong old fashioned and inefficient, tells you something then you may think they are idiots so i will do it my way, so learning off them does not teach you anything.
      I know that efficient people know about the work force around them and if a worker who is known to be good gets released from their job because those who employed them retired maybe, the efficient employees  come to ask them to work for them it is the same if you want to learn while you work be carful  about who employs you. Find someone whose exxperience you respect though it cost you to find them.
        Maybe if you have the money now you could buy the land and leave the weeds to better it while you worked for experience. It is often when you are in your fifties that you feel years spent in getting the experience are years well spent though they take away from the few years you have left to live, while in your twenties you feel that you have to get along fast.
    i think it would also be valuable to work in any old business. I feel sure that selling potatoes and apples and such would never add up to an income i could live off, maybe if i worked in some sort of business i would have a real  idea of how selling a thing here and another their sums up to a fair amount of money, to judge from the number of people emoployed in small businesses that must be true: Confidence is a great help in carrying a project through and real confidence comes from real experience in things, you may believe the logic of the observation that as others do this business and that some people who dont seem to be geniuses it must be possible for you to to so to but tha tsort of confidence born from observation logical as it seems leaves mnoraml people a bit scared on an uncounsiouse level it is when you do things that you feel very sure of your own abilities, so working in any business especially if you are floor manager type thing not just a worker worker or you do the accounts a bit may well give you the experience that gives you the confidence to start up on your own with a lot more energy energy that makes success more likely.
  the young hope nothing very bad can happen to them in life, they reckon on a certain amount of pain but not on the biggest amounts but it can to them. 
    What head of a business teaches a casual worker is to pick apples or prune and such, how to do the production part of the business. What the head of a business probably teaches their sons is how to buy say the potatoes you need, where to buy the best ones at the best price. How to knock the price down, how many is a minimum you need to buy, how to keep workes at work, this can mean not joining in your business is to organise and i know i was taught to take a fair share of the menial work tha ttakes time away from important leaerning time, r just overseeign time a boss should not feel obliged to show they are willing to do the dirty work though that must depend if the extra help is essentian ofr when it is not. How to sell things and fight for each penny of the selling price and such things that are not always explainned to workers. THtwa is if you are not a community just givign away the extra. This might be the sort of information you need as well as the information on planting the crops. To get this sort of information working as a woof might not be much help. Maybe there are people who take on woofs who teach manegerial skills as well as growing skills.
underlying fear about real abilities is very restricting and these fears work on the unconsciouse level taking away a lot of your energy.  The consciouse mind says, "of course i can do it, look at all these people who dont seem geniuses who seem to keep their heads above water but there is another bit of the head that changes your behavior reduces your thrust when your confidence does not come from real experience but from the observation that if others do it it must be possible.
    It is much easier to try things if your father has always done them you know from experience how these things go. That is why the government of Liberia in Africa  invited the Indian workers they had expeled from Liberia a few years before, back to Liberia. The workers from India, many of them  are used to running something that seems so easy as a shop, their fathers did it, they have recieved a lot of information about it in childhood, they dont for instance run out and buy a more expensive car when they have a bit of extra money, they reinvert in they get a cool chamber to store goods in, how can an outsider know you have to be endlessly mean on yourself if you want to make it, they just see others have made it and imagine it is easier than it is or dont see that while it is easy enough for someone who knows how it is not so easy for an outsider.
However it is from people taking big risks that countres move forward, if everyone does the safe thing and rests on dustier and dustier version of the old. countries slowly go down hill. Psychiatry tha thhas such a big influence on our society seems to b¡me to suggest behavior hta is best for individuals and families i think if its ideas get too entrenched without changing a bit it will creat societeis of people who dont take the sort of risk tha tis good for countires whthough it is not so good for individuals and families.  So take risks, be a soldier for your country instead of a person who takes the safe course. You never know you might do very well. Still getting in a lot of experience first might be a way of reducing the risk.  agri rose macaskie.
Willy Kerlang


Joined: Apr 29, 2011
Posts: 106
Check out a book called Harvest The Rain by my classmate Nate Downey, who runs a business called Santa Fe Permaculture, website here:  http://www.sfpermaculture.com/index.html

and also has a blog about permaculture in New Mexico (where I lived for many years):  http://practicalpermacultureonline.blogspot.com/

Nate has been doing permaculture in NM for twenty years.  Your biggest issue is going to come down to one word:  water.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5320
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Also greywater resource:  http://oasisdesign.net/

More about rain harvesting:  http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

Rain harvesting videos:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iQ-FBAmvBw

"waste water" ideas  http://www.solviva.com/wastewater.htm
 
 
subject: New Mexico Permaculture
 
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