7 billion human petri dishes for disease is an unprecedented density of biomass in one species. Pandemic is inevitable. I doubt it will be from a virus with a 2% mortality rate though, which is what I have heard quoted.
I plan to plant table and wine grapes at the southern side of many of my ponderosa pines, so I would ask why you might favor one species over the other. If they are both native, I’d go for a balance of both species.
This is why I advocated our county focus on regulating mj growing through power and water usage rates that escalate for higher and higher use, regardless of if its for growing or smelting or any other high resource use activity. I see this as a form of progressive taxation tied to the use of collective resources like power and water. If a grower can do it off grid and be water quality/quantity positive (which I think one can do), then go all out. If not, the grower will pay for it on the bottom line.
Reminds me of the great Mark Shepherd question (paraphrased) "why is it that farmers think it is our primary task to keep things alive that apparently just want to die, while killing those that show the most vibrant ability and desire to live?"
If this falls through for any reason, this post will be updated. If things go as planned, this will be a nice example of profitable permie-flipping (if you can call living and working on a property for six yrs with long term ecosystem care at the top of our priorities "flipping").
I also got my job largely based on the work I did on this place (a good reason to garden in your front yard, even if its a rental).
I'd recommend anyone interested in either homesteading or prepping/survival take a Wilderness First Responder course. Its paid itself off many times over for me in hospital bills, hikes and lives saved. Plus it is a great time with almost entirely awesome people. I even understand plumbing better because of it (the human body and our houses' water systems are all about pumps, pressure and volume).
I have had great success growing strawberries with a similar method to the Gautchi video. My modification is to do it on top of hugel beds due to our high water table in winter with 5-10" rain events. I also only put 3-6" of chips on top (he mentions up to 18" but I don't have that much freely available), and almost always these have been used as chicken bedding before doing so. I put them on in the late fall-early spring (November-March here).
The main thing that most seem to miss about the "back to eden method" is the woodchips getting "processed" by his chickens first. This is almost always skipped by those I see having problems with the deep woodchip approach, but is integral to its success in my observation. Its a great example of function stacking. I am also in a similar maritime NW climate to his, so this may have something to do with my success with applying some of his basic principles for soil building, but I do get the best strawberries around according to many who've tasted them, and I get them from April-November and they hardly need water (they will survive without but produce more with an inch/month of drip line watering within the mulch).
I agree with Eric about avoiding growing on concrete if possible. Even poor soil will become pretty good after a year or two of good raised bed soil being on top of it tended with minimal disturbance. I would also not worry too much about cramming them close together.
I might line one side of the paved area with a couple beds, then have another one by that telephone pole to use it as a trellis base. I've grown hops this way.
Or I might create a keyhole shape, in my climate with it open to south for more sun and a hot spot in the middle, or facing north (likely nicer in Atlanta) to create a shaded area behind the plants growing out of the beds.
An experienced organic no-till farmer and presenter at the Sustainable Food & Farming Conference in Grass Valley, CA said she found composting in place under her afflicted peach trees did the trick for leaf curl. I plan to try it here where people say peaches aren't worth trying due to our cool climate.
It also just occurred to me that both the correlative factors of horse and poultry manure mentioned in that article are nitrogen heavy. High nitrogen levels are correlated with a lot of insect/arthropod infestations (aphids come first to mind). I speculate this is due to the protein (nitrogen being a primary component thereof) available to make their bodies from the fleshy and succulent growth spurred on by high nitrogen manures. Anyone else also find this correlation in their experience?
On the bright side that same nitrogen based protein that feed symphs and aphids also feeds their predators. I haven’t had this particular problem, or at least not to my knowledge, but I imagine I might at some point.
This has to be a maddening problem for organic farmers doing so much right only to lose a crop. It was mentioned frequently at the Sustainable food and farming conference I just got back from, with no silver bullet proposed for saving that crop once the damage is noticed. Several experienced growers did say in their advanced no till systems, heavy losses generally concentrated to single crops planted in rows, and that a diversity of crops in alternating rows where pathways between are mulched and therefore alive with their own diverse fungally rich seemed to greatly mitigate the spread. I would speculate this is based on the biodiversity in the edges between diverse crop rows and mulched paths. Along with this habitat for biodiversity providing biological controls for the symphylans in fungal and animal predators as well as potential pathogens for them. These farmers (working on 2-5acre scale) also had diverse crops with different growth patterns and harvest times, so they weren’t wiped out by losing one crop to symphs, which again generally hit one clump of one crop at a time. They did not plant more than one bed of any given crop in series, so they would lose 1/20th of a harvest season rather than a devastating amount. So they could see the symphs as just mandating a fallow season for that bed, and likely their no till and no poison methods allowed biological controls to balance out the populations of any given pest. If you want to have green lace wings, you need aphids or some other food source for their larvae. Likewise, if we want symph predators, we need some number of symphs. Considering it appears they aren’t going away altogether, I’d lean into biodiversity as the control.
It will be hard to part with this place, but we would love for it to go to a fellow Permie. We have an offer forthcoming already so act fast!
Asking Price: $219,000
- For Sale By Owner
- 1248 sq. ft house on half acre lot
- 2-bed, 2-bath
- 12 hugelkulture (raised) beds
- wood stove and electric wall heat, new roof (2013), floors (2015), plumbing (2015), siding (2017)
- on-grid, with average electric bill under $100/month thru Pacific Power (no PG&E related power outages and the cheapest rates in California)
- Water bills ($22/month, even with full garden) are much lower than neighbors. Our rates are also the cheapest in California here in Del Norte County, and we happily
drink from the tap.
10 minutes from coast, old-growth redwoods, Wild & Scenic Smith River, Lake Earl Wildlife Refuge
-10 minutes to fishing, surfing, rafting, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, cliff-diving, and at least 6 different distinct ecologic zones
- 5mi to Crescent City, CA and 20mi to Brookings, OR
- 1.5hr to skiing in winter
- water retention landscaping
- passive soil & fertility building design
- 1500-gal duck pond, overflow into wood-filled trenches between hugel beds
- 240 sq. ft deep bedding bird enclosure, 1/8-acre run
- 3000(+) sq. ft of established 3-5ft tall hugel (raised) beds
- pinot noir, gewurztraminer, and mars (table) grapes, strawberries, blueberries, tree-collards, tree kale, raspberries, Jerusalem artichoke, scarlet runner and Tuscan white perennial beans, Cascade hops, fuzzy kiwi
- established trees (plum, apple, pear, linden, maple, alder, spruce and shore pine)
- 4yr-old mulberries, cherries, peaches
- dozens of herbal tea and medicinal plant species and varietals
- 4 redwood stumps over 9ft thick, on 15ft+, another is a 50ft snag with kiwi vining up
- all organic or better practices on landscape and in house for over six years of our ownership, & it appeared the prior owner did so as well when we bought it
- Feels much larger than a 1/2 acre with abundant edge and privacy
The community and economy in this area is moving in a very positive direction in my view. We helped found the fledgling and rapidly growing Wild Rivers Permaculture Guild serving Del Norte and Curry Counties last spring. This coincided with many great people coming into the area seemingly every day for its natural beauty and unparalleled abundance. The tallest trees, highest biomass and most soil biodiverse place on Earth is less than ten miles away. So is the largest un-dammed river in the lower 48 (the Smith). Ten minutes the other way is the Pacific, with the some of the best birding in California on the way on Lake Earl & Tolowa. We have a 270-day growing season, enough chill hours for virtually any common fruit yet very rare frosts, and the ability to dry farm.
I work as the Food Forest Site Developer for Del Norte County and Adjacent Tribal Lands, with two sites under my management at College of the Redwoods' Crescent City Campus and Au-Minot/Margaret Keating Elementary. We are not leaving the area, just moving up to a larger off-grid place because I guess we just always need something to work on, and this place feels pretty well set. Every time we show it and describe all we've done, I get cold feet about selling. Yet we hope this can give someone an opportunity to enjoy the abundance and diversity we helped steward to this point, and think it would be perfect for someone wanting a six-year head start. The only downside is the fences have gotten shorter, as we have built over a foot of beautiful soil throughout the property. We would love to provide a home for a fellow permie to help make this beautiful place even better!
I have a few koi in the pond at my new place, introduced by the prior owner. I don’t have experience with raising fish so I can’t make an educated comparison from experience of both them and ducks. I have however seen living proof of the Rodale encyclopedia’s assertion that ducks have the highest phosphorus manure of any common livestock. My evidence is in flowers and fruits doing quite well with either or both passive and active fertigation. I would watch out for nitrates with high stocking or feeding rates, especially in regard to drinking water and salmon where I am, but I figure that is less of a problem the less you feed either animal with external inputs, as we are introducing nitrogen (primary component of proteins) via feed. Nitrogen hungry plants in the way of your runoff will help too and make great mulch and bedding, if nothing else. Here are some pictures from a couple years ago on my property (now for sale) and a community/educational food forest I am developing. The one with the muscovies is my house, where their pond is roof fed and the runoff goes through trenches filled with woody debris and topped with woodchips for a path between hugels. The straight trench on bare dirt is when I started the community food forest project. The only major design alteration, before not filling (I tried to stop it but was not yet hired) would make is foregoing the pipe and it’s unnecessary plastic where I used it, as the trench and wood work as well alone if not better. Raising happy and healthy] productive aquatic animals while fertigating your garden and cleaning your water seems to me to be a great thing to do, and is likely doable with either species, and I’d think both. I mainly checked into this thread in hopes of seeing how people might be doing both. It happens in nature, right? So why not our ponds? The situation seems similar to raising chickens and pigs on the same farm, you just have to give the prey species a sanctuary and space to escape the predators.
Does anyone have experience adapting Elliot Coleman style tools, or a Jang Seeder, paper pot planter, or other time saving tools to hugelkulture beds with Holzer and Wheaton approved steep sides? If so, care to share? Feel free to add any other time savers you might have adapted to big steep hugels.
As for my context, I have over a 1/4 acre of hugels from 18” to 7ft tall (6ft after settling). They are in varied shapes, but most are not linear. They are anywhere from rounded to 45deg+ in slope. All this hugel building has been very worthwhile for all the reasons people like them and more, but after just going to the Sustainable Food and Farming Conference (fantastic) in Grass Valley CA, and seeing no hugelkulture, I wonder if I have limited my potential scalability and efficiency by making highly useful tools unworkable? I think It is still most likely worth it, due to almost never needing to water, all the great soil/compost the beds become, and the added ease of picking a steep bed, some of the time in most situations. Other times steep beds can be difficult on top and concerning for people holding harvest knives and scissors. Of course this can be mitigated with common sense, which i need to learn to graft onto any workers I have. Any input on adapting tools to slope and hugels would be very helpful.
These are some pictures of our work at the Crescent City Food Forest at College of the Redwoods (see my thread on the site). We get 100” of rain per year, and 12x the sites area in hardscape runoff (1.25acre site with 14acres of hardscape). That’s 386,000gal/inch of rain and we get 5” days every winter. Yet after creating our wetlands, woody debris trenches and ponds for diversion/absorption and the hugels’ drainage and soil warmth, we can plant a month earlier than most and go months without watering.
I have made well over 10,000sq ft of hugel beds of varying heights from 2-7ft. While any height can benefit from the organic matter, nutrients, drainage, and water retention of the wood, I see benefits in going up as high as you can easily reach (5-7ft) in moisture retention, soil warmth, and getting above a high water table if thats a problem. Anything but treated, tainted, or well-preserved woods like locust, cedar or redwood will do in my observation. The harder the wood the longer it will take to really take off but the longer it will last and benefit.
Strawberries do great on hugelkulture, and I have been told by large scale producers Nitrogen, Calcium and Magnesium are its primary nutrients required, so maybe that is a counter-example to the nitrogen lockout hypothesis. I think the lag in taking off is related to the soil we put on it. The first year seems similar to the productivity of the preexisting soil I put on the wood, with the added benefit of some of the greater moisture retention hugels are famous for. By year 3-5, it seems like it doesn't much matter what soil I put on the wood originally, its all good. If abundant woody debris is available, I would go as big as you can with hugelkulture, and renting an excavator can definitely pay off quickly.
In Restoration Agriculture (highly recommended), Mark Shepherd mentions grapes and apples both produce normally when this is done. It may be a concern if your sun exposure is on the low end of their tolerance, but this is how their ancestors have grown in nature. I also have a friend who puts on the International Pinot Noir Celebration in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and she said in touring Europe that her favorite wines came from classically arbor grown vines trained to trees or large pergolas.
That's a good idea for keeping Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern (the Wet Bandits from Home Alone) out, but I worry about human safety and bears' incredible pain tolerance. I would bet an inevitable nail through one's boot and foot would not be worth the honey, but maybe I'm wrong. I have also seen a bear sitting on a giant bramble of himalayan blackberry to eat and bring more within reach. They also tolerate hundreds of stinging bees on their face in order to get at that honey, so maybe pain isn't a big motivator for them. Perhaps the startling aspect of a nail in the foot would be, like a jolt from an electric fence. It's not the pain but the start that seems to get them running. One thing to remember is that bears have been selected though human intervention to fear us above all else. The one's that didn't fear humans got shot and didn't reproduce. Along those lines, I have heard a motion activated radio can work (You Bet Your Garden podcast. I'd also pee all around the hive in a wide perimeter, but also should warn that during dry season, this could get you a sting on a very sensitive place from a thirsty bee (this happened to me last fall, but with a yellow jacket). Peed all over myself when I was trying to get it off, only to brush it down into my pants, which then had to come off but got stuck on my boots as it kept stinging my thigh as I howled in pain and laughter at the absurdity of it all. It was worth it for the story though.
The mulberries would fall into a classic walnut guild (Gaia's garden says they even benefit from walnut), so if the mulberries were fine while other plants wilted that would be a tell that it was walnut/jugalone to blame. Even then, I understand the primary vector for allelopathy to be root exudates from the living tree rather than decomposing leaves or wood (at least this is true with conifers like western hemlock, which still make fine hugelkulture ingredients). I would mainly be concerned about herbicide contamination in the woodchips from applications on lawns or landscapes around the trees that the chips were made from, which likely precipitated that tree's demise. It is amazing that we are so short sighted as a culture as to poison our environment for decades in order to save a few hours work weeding, or better yet designing to prevent or even utilize weeds. It is also entirely possible this is just a coincidence with your timing of placing the wood chips and its an unrelated problem like herbicide on the wind, gophers or similar root munchers, or a lack of moisture before applying the wood chips. Another consideration is if you placed the chips right up to the bark, it could be harboring bark stripping rodents or suffocating/moldering the bark.
Any berries pretty much make my hike. My favorites are thimbleberries, black cap raspberries, and the 9 types of blue/huckleberries that grow in the Olympic Mtns. Some are big, black and taste like a deep red wine, others are little and blue and taste like apples and pears. I picked my quart a day often as a backcountry ranger, and my memory and balance were all the better for it. Had to have some purple mouthed bear can conversations though.
Good thread all. I agree with Trace and Travis on their points.
My Pyrenees akbash especially needs to be fenced because he is unfixed (need a stud?). We are in the process of moving onto a new 25 acre property, and plan to fence off the acre around the house to keep him in and deer out of our zone 1-2 garden. He will also protect chickens and ducks that will mostly be in a deep bedding run in one corner of the fenced in area. He has jumped a 6ft wooden fence at our old place when our neighbor has baby goats bleating bloody murder on their first night away from home. He was born with goats and sheep, and was found laying placidly by their paddock, goats calmed. He’s older though now (5yrs) and hasn’t shown the desire to get out even when a husky we fostered dismantled the fence systematically. He is great with animals and people, and probably knows 100 words and dozens of people’s names that he will go to if directed, but he is a lover and is dumb as fuck with vehicles. One time when protecting his cat from the husky though, he amazingly came away from a 25mph collision with an f250 with just some bruises, going off after for a 9hr stroll as we frantically looked for him, only to return on his own. Not something we want to chance again, and we are also in shoot shovel shut up, and dog thieving country.
My plan is a 700ft run of 6ft field fence (.60$/ft), with salvaged old growth redwood and site sourced cedar corner posts (6”x9ft+) with Hbraces, and tee posts for straight runs. He does not dig to get out of our current place, only to den (7ft tunnels under our giant stumps await the mate he’s been waiting for). I plan to use rocks not concrete for post holes, as we did in Pinnacles National Monument when I was on the trail and fence (for Ferrell pigs) crew there. I will also likely have to do rock jack posts (circular caged rock piles) where we cannot dig in the posts deep enough. I am hoping to get this all done for less than 1500$, and since I found the old growth to salvage I am optimistic. I want the fence to double as a trellis, so I do not plan to electrify it.
I am also in NW CA. As I have observed tanoak support a lot of native mushrooms (chanterelle, and hedgehog), but a local expert said he had trouble with many cultivated varieties. I think he had moderate success with oyster, but I have just recently seen a nice flush of volunteer blue oysters on alder in a hugel bed.
If “meat is murder”, “tilling is killing” too. Vegans mostly have admirable ideals, but in my opinion often set a moral bar too high for animal to live up to. If beekeeping of any method is wrong because we take the honey from a “subjugated hive” (which I know not all vegans subscribe to), then wouldn’t vermicomposting, or any kind of soil building where we take the fruits of soil organisms’ labor (vegetables etc), also be wrong? We are animals, heterotrophs, that have to eat other living things to survive. I think it’s in our self interest to treat other animals how we would want to be treated if in their position, as best as we can understand that from our perspective. We can only expect to compel someone to do something if we convince them of their self interest to do so, and if it seems like avoiding animal products altogether is what will make a person feel better about what they eat, then I can’t imagine having a problem with that. However I will continue to eat my happy/free to leave birds’ eggs, the meat from excess males, and enjoy the fruits of their work on my garden soil. I am managing food forest sites with and without animals, and the fertility and work to production ratio of the sites without is much lower.
Welcome Jordan, your knowledge will be valuable to this forum.
I think using this wood in your garden sounds like a good idea, and I agree with the good advice from those above. I don’t know anything about your setup (it can help those wanting to better answer questions to fill in a general location and description of your interests in your profile), but this wood could also be used in:
-hugelkulture (nurselog mimicking) raised beds, and it would not have to be broken up
- in a chicken run, where the birds would peck and scratch at the insects in it, breaking it into mulch sized pieces and mixing it with manure and feathers for a pretty ideal fertilizer mix of carbon (from wood) and nutrients (from birds)
- inoculated with fungus as mentioned in a prior post, then after it’s spent, used for either of the above before going in the garden
- it is also providing benefit to the place it already is and could be utilized for a hedgerow or other planting
What is your climate? Do you have hot summers? If so, that oak is very much helping moderate it. It would also likely be beneficial to grow something to shade your house from the afternoon sun, as that is the cause of a great deal of unnecessary air conditioning.
I use an old piece of luggage. It is a close to cube shaped duffel bag that has a flexible but solid plastic bottom. It can haul the equivalent of 2+ of firewood bundles they sell at campgrounds around here (though I cut my own or get it by the cord). That or I get a wheelbarrow at a time and stage it in an old travel trunk a few feet from the wood stove to give it as much time to dry out inside as I can, as our winters here are so wet it’s hard to keep the wood dry enough even when well covered.
Ben Zumeta wrote:I would question whether biochar actually increases the usable surface area for plants, as the rotting wood has a huge amount as does it's embedded fungus, which also seem to serve all the functions that buochar would (moisture and nutrient retention).
Not the surface area for plants, the surface area for microbes with the charcoal itself. I have read that 1 tsp (tbps?) of charcoal has the surface area of a football field for soil life.
I do not have a study to back this up, but I would hypothesize the surface area of a piece of rotting wood and all its fungal inoculants would be equal or greater to that of biochar. The reason I assert this is that the surface area between all the endomycorrhizal fungi cells gets burned off in biochar production. I suppose surface area is dependent on the fineness of one's measurement though. However, recent observations of circles of green in otherwise dessicated fields in Ireland in last summer's drought showed woody debris from fortifications and buildings being the source of increased soil organic matter that led to greater soil moisture and drought resistance. Its possible this wood was burned in part or totality, but I would bet a diversity of uncharred and charred wood creates the greatest diversity of microbiomes and therefore biomass, as occurred in the redwoods where we find the greatest terrestrial biomass and soil biodiversity on Earth.
Ben Zumeta wrote:but use what was not going to some other higher use.
This is not a statement about your post only, and is not an attack on what you said, but what seems to be the thought process among a number of people on the forum. I disagree with the idea of "higher use". The highest use in my mind is what you need it for. Using smaller wood for a rocket stove is not a higher use for than using it for wood chips, if what I need are wood chips and I don't have a rocket stove. Using wood for a debris hut is great if I am in the wilderness and need a shelter to keep from freezing, but if not, making charcoal is not a "lesser" use. Cutting trees into timber for a log cabin is great if you need a log cabin. Burying it in the ground is great if you need a hugel bed. Chipping it is great if you need to build great garden soil. Using it to build a fence or weave a basket or to build a fish-drying rack, none of these if a "higher use" than another in my mind.
I did not intend to assert an ethical judgement, though I can see how it could be interpreted that way. By "higher use," I mean higher in the "use-shed". Like people, ponds, animals and plants using water many times in a watershed, many pieces of wood can be used for many other purposes before going into a hugelkulture, as long as they are not chemically treated.
Sounds like your dog did exactly what he was bred for. I remember bringing my pyrenees/akbash home as a 38lb, 11week old puppy, with a father as large as any dog I'd seen. It occurred to me that even though these breeds were supposed to have low bite rates on people and livestock, I was taking on a big responsibility that I should not undertake lightly. I needed to give him every chance to succeed in a world that has changed from the one he was bred for in pre-roman Basque country or Anatolia. He has treed a bear but is gentle with small animals. I would be watchful all the more knowing your dog has little hesitation and plenty of ability to kill, but I hope it was also known that this was possible when you got this breed.
On another note, llama is some of the best meat I've ever had, I hope you could still utilize it. Delicious, even though its very low in fat (4% I was told).
Regarding your question about bringing the wheelbarrow upright, I put my foot at the downhill foot of the wheelbarrow and pull it up. If its too heavy, figure out how much you can lift and fill accordingly. It is also vastly easier to move a naturally stable full 2-wheel barrow than a single wheel which requires balancing the load. Its also better to move a half load all the way to its destination than a full load half way.
I have spread hundreds of yards of wood chips in the past couple years at home and for work on food forests, and I use:
- A 8cu ft two wheeled barrow, ideally with solid tires (one I have at home has them). I have tried to design so all pathways are wide enough that a single wheel would be unnecessary, as I hate those wobbly bastards. I can take a much large load and move a double wheel with one hand if necessary, and I don’t have to work to balance it. I would bet it reduces the effort by up to half
- A cast iron bedding fork (an awesome old tool given to me by a neighbor) with a 16”wide x 12” deep head. This is perfect for wood chips, probably 3x as fast as other forks I’ve used
- a McCloud for raking in chips into wheel barrow on its side
- my small pickup for longer runs and where I can pull it right up between hugel beds to unload directly. I will be getting an automated unloading device when possible. I can hold about 2.5yds when it’s piled high as is safe
I would give aerated duck pond water a shot for hydroponics, but it could have sanitation concerns. Duck manure is generally better balanced in NPK and micronutrients than fish, which is very high nitrogen and can produce lush leaves but not flowers or fruit. I have had great results in soil and “soil-less” gardening with duck manure and supplemental micronutrients from kelp. I hypothesize ducks have coevolved with aquatic plants for symbiosis, much like fish.