I just noticed what look like wood stoves embedded in the base of the terrace wall. What a brilliant design, where you can warm yourself, your coffee and lunch with the wood stove while working in the garden in the winter, and warm the soil at the same time.
Phylloxera is often transferred on the wheels of vehicles that drive anywhere around vineyards, like on a winery-vineyard tour that you have people taking all the time in the adjacent Willamette valley. Limiting vehicle traffic on vineyards is one of the key ways to control the introduction of phylloxera. I grow grapes near enough to a road to possibly get it transmitted, but I dont live near a major winegrowing area that is infested with it.
Strawberries have done well at the feet of my grapes, at least for the first several years so far. I would agree with Jan, most italian or french herbs will likely do well and benefit the vines. If you have rich soil you could also do greens, which would benefit in summer from the vines' shade. Most plants with small, simple white or yellow flowers (arugula, brassicas, yarrow, queen annes lace etc), will attract beneficial insects to control pests. Tansy is an invasive to the nw but it also controls problematic nematodes. Near a driveway, planting on native american rootstock is beneficial to avoid phylloxera problems that plague european grapes' roots.
I was not meaning to condemn your even bringing up the topic, and of course it seems like a great idea to get value out of "spent" nuclear fuel given that its already here, while also reducing its toxicity and half life. I mainly just think that the 1930's-40's saw the most insanely short term thinking I could imagine, even if it was for a lot of largely understandable reasons given the Depression and the World Wars those decision makers lived through. I just hate the idea of our finding a way to mitigate the catastrophic toxicity of nuclear waste being seen as an excuse to create more of it. I know that even with my permie values I rationalized gardening under plastic film because at the time I bought it my local recycler accepted it. Now, while it definitely paid itself off for me financially and I reuse it however I can, I cannot recycle it and will not use it again, as its still a long term problem for many living things around me and will outlive me.
I also manage community gardens in challenging sites, though our difficulty is often too much water, which I bet is uncommon for you in Las Vegas. Korean natural farming is a very cost effective approach. Along those lines, compost teas are very cost effective, especially if made with your local weeds and roof-caught rainwater (when you get it), with the only cost being aeration. With your heat and light abundance, you could likely get a good amount from a floating mini hoophouse over a 1/3 of the water and a heavy shade cover (like a slab of stone) over the rest to create a circulating thermosyphon.
Another step is to locate abundant waste streams of organic matter. Here we get immense amounts of wood people just want to set on fire to get rid of. I make hugels and fill trenches with it. Where you are it will likely be a different resource, but I bet that anyone living in an urban or suburban setting can find some undervalued or discarded organic matter, compost it, and make it live again. The permaculture designers manual also has a great deal to say about accomplishing your goals in a high desert like you are in.
If one of the first principles of permaculture is to take responsibility for ourselves and our children, then it seems like leaving a problem this toxic for even one generation down the line is irresponsible. The 24,000yr half life of uranium is 20+ times the lifespan of any known civilization and is in my opinion obviously sociopathic. I do not know enough about thorium or other alternative nuclear methods to uranium or plutonium to speak educatedly about them. However, what better place than an internet forum to talk about stuff I am not an expert in? Given what is stated above about degradation periods of between 30-300yrs, I still wonder what the worst case scenario is in the timeframe. Looking at it as I try to develop food forests that I would like to outlive me, especially with the NW CA native one where we have a 300yr wait for maturation of the keystone coast redwoods, this seems like a difficult enough multigenerational challenge without throwing in elements that could make the Earth uninhabitable for 99% of life. I cannot design something that only I can manage and expect it to last. That was the failure of Justinian in Byzantium and many other great builders over history. We could make analogous arguments about massive dam projects and their catastrophic longterm impact on their watersheds's ecology for many millenia, but that is just one watershed.
Ultimately, I see claims of sustainable inexhaustible nuclear power as a similar pipe dream to interplanetary human exploration. It becomes an excuse or rationalization for an economic model of perpetual growth dependent on ever increasing energy use and resource exploitation. We can probably manage 10billion people on Earth with Sepp Holzer and other permaculture techniques if people can be happy with a reasonable amount of luxury like great food, comfortable homes and resource security that these design methods can provide. Nuclear energy is only necessary if we get greedy.
Here is one of my beds with a French drain diversion trench filled with woody debris and chips for the path around it. It absorbs my duck pond and chicken runoff. I have a half dozen or so such basins that absorb nutrients and water that are wicked into hugel beds, and the runoff is much cleaner for the salmonids downstream. I never have to water perennials. I only water starts and seeds in the summer once or twice.
At the least, this is telling you your ash trees tolerate jugalone just fine, though this has likely already been documented. They are likely symbiotic to some extent if the walnut tolerates the ash tree and vice versa. If the ash is not shading out the leaves of the walnut, which it seems doubtful it ever would, it will not harm the production of a mature walnut in the long run. It may interfere with harvest, being in they way of the harvesters. However the larger tree with the larger photosynthetic area on its leaves will generally benefit long term from the nutrient cycling and accumulation of its understory, and in times of water stress the larger tree with the more powerful transpiration powered vacuum can literally pull the water out of smaller trees that have a weaker vacuum with their smaller photosynthetic area. They can also outcompete them for nutrients and sugars with greater carbohydrate and other root exudate production. It’s a bit like economics, where big corporations benefit in the aggregate from a diversified array of small businesses during good times, and in tough times they can buy them out with greater capital reserves and then profit greatly from their buying low when the macro economy recovers.
If you take soil poor in organic matter (<2%), and make a bed with that soil and 1/3 wood (which is 90% carbon), you get close to 30% carbon in your soil, theoretically. Carbon is the primary component of organic matter, which you want to be upwards of 10% of your soil in most cases. Some of that 30% will gas off in breaking down the wood, but the slower the decomposition, the more carbon and nitrogen efficient it is, and hugelkulture is a essentially slow compost pile that grows most plants while it decomposes, and does so with much less water.
Travis, you describe Pascal’s Wager pretty well. The problem is that the same logic applies to the “floating anus of morality” that one might believe is hovering above us all (credit to Patton Oswald) and which will spray metaphysical excrement on our souls if we fail to treat others as we would want to be treated. If hat makes someone act more kindly, I would hate to dissuade them of that belief, but I also reserve the right to think it is hilarious.
I’d look into the technology used for light deprivation (“light dep”) in growing “the plant not to be discussed on this forum”. You could modify the material from blackout fabric to a panda (black outside, white inside) film or something like that. Most automated systems seem to work with rollers on timers and weighted bottom edges.
This seems to work pretty well with 4” drain tile at the bottom. I am also trying wood filled trenches without pipe in other places away from structures. Seems to kickstart fungal diversity and moderates soil moisture.
I would put the compost, or any nitrogen source, on top directly around any plantings if you already laid the woodchips. This is because nitrogen is water soluble and runs downhill. You can make little compost pockets on top that you plant directly into, surrounding any seeds or seedling roots with a couple inches of buffer. They will send roots right through the woodchips as they grow and the chips break down into rich fungal soil. This is all demonstrated in a Geoff Lawton video. Of course all of this works better if the woodchips have been bird bedding beforehand.
Regarding the discussion about coffee grounds affect on legumes’ germination and growth:
I would hypothesize the grounds, which are a type of bean meal, are creating a nitrogen rich environment which is a less ideal germination condition for other legumes. Kind of like how dandelion and dock will stop growing when your soil is adequately decompacted and calcified, it seems to me legumes don’t “feel needed” where coffee grounds are abundant. Legumes (coffee) have already done the peas’ job ecologically. Just a hypothesis.
I get about 10-25lbs/day from local shops when I am passing by. I just mulch with it mostly.
In regard to your game analogy, I want feminists to have their way and equality to prevail, if for no other reason than so that if I “win” at life, I don’t have to feel like it was because my great grandfathers kneecapped everyone I competed with like I do now.
I am in favor of 99% of feminist goals, but I think it would benefit from a rebranding and renaming. A lot like “environmentalism”, which I wholly support but think is burdened by the baggage of mistakes made by mostly well intentioned past environmentalists and smear campaigns by its opponents. Of course everyone should love the earth that supports us just like we should all love our mothers and sisters, but any term can be polluted in our culture.
Also, until people can say “mankind” without being considered a horrible mysogenist, I can’t accept the inherent hypocrisy of the term feminism alongside its tenet of neutering language. It is also counterproductive from a purely strategic standpoint. I want women to have at least equal power and respect, but I have to say that feminists very often act in ways that makes it impossible to see a way to help as a white guy at best, and I can see how they would seem antagonistic to someone who hasn’t read much on the philosophy.
“Feminism” is alienating for men for the same reason that “mankind”is for women. How absurd would it be to talk about being a “masculinist”? I would even say that having the masculine being the generic in “‘mankind” etc, is not entirely flattering to me as a man. I am fine with whatever people want to say or claim to be their beliefs, I see that as part of respecting different cultures, but it is going to baffle and frustrate me to work with that information if it is not internally consistent.
Moreover, many prominent espoused feminists will explicitly state that they essentially associate anything bad (I.e violence) with “masculinity”. I know that is just demonstrating a very simplistic (mis)understanding of feminism, but I would likewise also like to not be associated with macho dudes who do stupid, hurtful shit just because I also have a penis.
Ultimately, while many of the people I respect most are avowed feminists and they can articulate an internally consistent philosophy, I vastly prefer the philosophical framework and practical applicability of deep ecology to feminism. However both express respect all living things of any gender, while valuing the need for a rebalancing of every aspect of our relationship with each other and nature.
What doesn’t grow well here? If you find yourself in this climate, well done, you have made a good decision. We get enough winter chill for almost any fruit, but rare killing freezes. Dry summers and early autumns allow for fruit ripening with little mold pressure. Many trees grow very well, and the fastest growing and highest biomass places on earth are in this region. My area in NW CA has been reclassified zone 10 in the last ten years, but it’s historically zone 9 with many microclimates from zone 7-10 within twenty miles, and we get enough chill for any temperate fruit. I also spent most of the first 30yrs of my life in western Washington and Oregon. We can get prolific apples, pears and plums as well as mulberries, blueberries and caneberries. Kiwis can be massively productive. Wine grapes of many varietals thrive in drier areas, Pinot noir in milder climates, and Muscat and many great eating grapes produce well closer to the coast. Meyer Lemons do well according to locals, and I have a healthy enough Mexican lime. Bananas can survive in protected spot but do not fruit. Peaches can be difficult without being in a hot spot. Protecting your soil and storing water in it goes hand in hand with utilizing the prolific organic matter available in this climate. Mulching any bare soil, and/or burying wordy debris in hugelkulture or catchment basins are keys to turning what could be problematic eroding and leaching heavy winter rain into a solution for long dry summers. Mushrooms also thrive in this climate and are a great winter protein source that can be symbiotic with fruit trees and vines.
Dr. Redhawk is correct about considering some seeds' specific need for heat, cold, or chemical (i.e. animal digestion) stratification. Also, I would not assume you are doing anything wrong due to low germination rates alone. This is common in many native nw conifers according several friends working as national park restoration ecologists. It also makes sense with how long lived many conifers are that they could afford low germination rates. They can produce many millions of seeds in their lifetime, and to maintain their range and species population, they only have to produce two offspring trees that survive to maturity and reproduction. Conifers also often need a particular soil fungus native to their forests, I know this is definitely true of the late succession/climax old growth forest trees like western hemlock and coast redwood, but doubt they are alone. In general, conifers play the long game, and are deeply connected to their native associated species.
This also goes for conifers and squirrels which are fantastic foresters. With douglas squirrels of the western US, they forget about or for some reason simply don't eat 90% of the seeds they bury. They just so happen to bury most douglas fir seeds at right about the perfect depth for their germination. I would bet this relationship is similar for many squirrels/seed buriers and their native food source trees... Any way you could get a siberian squirrel?
Geoff Lawton seems to suggest a mix of 50-70% coarse/sharp river sand to 30-50% quality compost for tree starts in pots. I've found this started tomatoes well too. If your drainage is adequate I'd go with the compost 2-4" deep from 1ft from trunk out to double the dripline distance if you can. That would take a lot of compost, and you could grow vegetables and vines in between the trees until the canopy closes. If you have drainage concerns on your site (root flare less than 2ft above high water), that would be the exception. I'd find a higher site, or build hugel beds with native soil from adjacent paths and maybe river sand, and use compost on top at 2-4" deep.
Dr. Redhawk: "I'd cut a leaf and do a smell test, if it is a garlic you'll know right away."
This brings something to mind that may be useful. Pojar (NW plant ID book) and other sources I've read about NW edible plants suggest a smell test to avoid eating the native allium Death Camus. If it smells like an onion, its not death camus, a very toxic plant that looks to the untrained eye like another native, blue camas, which does smell like onion. I don't know of any dangerous native nw plants that smell like garlic, but of course my knowledge is not comprehensive.
If you want ideal summers (you choose where you want it 60-100f based on if you go coastal or up to the mountains/rivers) and don’t mind rainy but mild (freezes are rare) winters (but snow within a n hour and a half for skiing), and want to live in a place with virtually no enforcement about how you can develop or destroy your own land, check out Del Norte county in Far nw CA. It’s called Caltucky or Calabama by the sea due to its “rural” culture, but that is changing in the right (leftwards) direction in my observation over six years here. I also still appreciate that even those whose politics I disagree with around here are at least largely adept DIYers. However, we need more permies!
Del Norte is the cheapest place in California but has the greatest water security, has the lowest fire risk in the state on the coast, and is the least populous place by radius in the continental US (nobody living in the Pacific helps that stat). We also have the highest biomass/acre on earth in our forests, and the highest soil biodiversity there as well. Oh, and the largest undammed river in the continental US, which is in my opinion the best swimming river in the world. It is slow pitch softball for permaculture here with all the organic matter around.
I have never worked with that tree, but would still probably do a hugel bed over the stump. Start with with woody debris of diverse sizes, topped with soil from an adjacent area that could become a path, and plant it right away. If the tree comes back, just cut back to the surface until it runs out of steam, it's just putting more organic matter into the deep soil for you anyhow. I plan to eventually do this with alders (our native n-fixator) I am planting.
I am interested in your results. Native American rootstock seems to be the best solution to phylloxera. I would also hypothesize that wild grapes are mostly vegetatively perpetuated, maybe even to a similar degree to the plant I keep seeing more parallels to, Sequoia Sempervirens (coast redwood). They have 98% of mature forest trunks coming from reiterations, and grow very much like vines that can form trunks from any vertical growth, even after falling. I wouldn’t be surprised if kiwi in the wild are the same way, being long lived, prolific seed producers, and very easy to root from any tissue touching soil. If only some searchable network of information sources existed around the globe...
I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but it can be difficult for many rooted cuttings to transition from water/hydroponics to soil. They seem to be shocked by having to deal with the increased gravity and resistance. Mike McGrath from You Bet Your Garden recommends adding gravel to the bottom of the container of water, ideally before rooting. However, even if something like roses have rooted in a vase, gently adding pea-marble gravel before transplanting to let them get used to working around solids seems to help. Kiwis have rooted pretty well for me in river sand alongside willows, if you want a free natural medium.
Talk about something I could probably look up again before talking about it from memory...I know of that fallacy I in tree fruit from seed and am in favor of the Sepp Holzer strategy, and I actually asked for specification on that exact point. Forrest, my buddy, grows apples as well, and he said grapes have a very different reproductive strategy than most other common temperate fruit groups like pome, stone, vaccinia, or rosa/rubus. They are taxanomically not closely related to those common temperate fruit families, and are very different in pollination. I understand that they are monoecious (non m/f individual plants) and can self pollenate, by wind, but the vast majority of seeds are not viable to grow and even fewer can then reproduce. Grapes are so vigorous, hardy and easily propagated vegetatively, they are apparently able to afford producing millions of seeds before one succeeds in passing on their genes by mutating in such a way that they can self pollenate. Viticulturists over millenia and vast amounts of space have then vegetatively propagated those grape producing mutants. We have mulched millions of seeds on his 10 acre vineyard and very, very few have come up, and none that we know of have been impressive, while suckers from his canes would ubiquitous if unmanaged. Of course seedlings have produced unique fruit that becomes a new varietal, but that happens very rarely and generally on large vineyards that have the space, time and inclination to test it over a decade or more. This is my main point, if without more land than you know what to do with, utilize the ability for grapes to live for centuries, and the land and time investment of previous viticulturists who know a thing or two, and get a cutting you have some idea that you will like. If dry farmed, it will still express a unique character on your unique site and under your unique care. While technically that same genetic plant, individual canes and roots can also mutate significantly over a grape's century+ potential lifetime, and this is actually apparently necessary for any single individual to reproduce. While genetically distant and not perfect analogues, we can find a similar reproductive cycle to other long lived, hard to kill plants, like Redwoods. Only the strong, prolifically successful and perfectly placed offspring survive to reproduce. It is amazing and hard to believe, but explains why viticultural progress has correlated with extensive breeding projects like those by royal estates, stable communities devoted to it like in France, Italy, or Spain, or academically with massive investment like at University of California Davis, and Washington State University.
My main advice having grown grapes and spent a lot of time on vineyards, but appreciating the Sepp Holzer seed propagation strategy, is if you really want to come up with a grape better than 6000yrs of breeding, and care beyond what possibly any other plant has been provided, appreciate the extraordinary failure rate of any given seed and time (10yrs to know if it’s decent for wine, and five to seven for decent fruit). I'd use as much mash or wine must as I could for seed stock from a wine, juice or table varietal you like, and devote some substantial space to it. I'd ask a vineyard or fruit processor as close to me as possible for their spent seeds and skins and fill my vehicle. Otherwise I'd get some cutting that I know makes great fruit in my area and has likely had billions of dollars put into its breeding, if you appreciate the thousands of years interest that would accrue on investments made by Egyptian, Greek, Persian and Roman, renaissance and many other viticulturalists. Of course I'd have a better likelihood of finding something valuable in root stock that is resistant to phylloxera or other soil problems. Even then, a wild native grape would probably be better for the purpose and easier to find and propagate vegetatively than breeding one from seed.
I agree with propagating diversity in every way we can, and I am constantly catching myself trying to reinvent the wheel, so I can't criticize. However grapes are something that has had immense time, energy and expertise put into its cultivation and we can get many thousands of varietals of incredible diversity. It takes a long time to understand each varietal or individual cutting, let alone your site's relationship to it and its preferred microclimate. I know this is just a fun experiment, and I am mainly referring to the suggestion to plant the seeds, but breeding anything successfully in a way that values your time, space and energy seems to require understanding these aspects of the plant. Sometimes you can just get lucky though I guess, and I hope you all do.
The vast majority of grape seeds will not produce fruit at all, let alone something tasty or true to type. My best friend , a professional vintner, said he has read in several sources from viticulture classes that there is about a 1/20000 chance of any given seed producing a cane that will even produce fruit, let alone better fruit than the parent, because it requires a mutation that apparently happens independently in each genetic individual that is capable of producing grapes. Edit:[I asked specifically about if I was misunderstanding and he meant it was similar to an apple seed having a 1/10000 chance of being commercially valuable, it was not what he meant, and he grows apples as well and knows enough about the subject for me to trust] This does sound baffling to me given that thousands of different grape varietals exist and had to come from somewhere, but he’s not one to bullshit about grapes. I guess this is correlated with how grapes produce so much fruit and live so long. It can take a lot of rolls to hit that yatze. I ought to read up on UC Davis publications on the subject for more information.
I forgot to mention, right as my allergies have gotten better, my wife’s have gotten much worse than she’s ever had before. I am not sure which is worse, having bad allergies or being around people who are miserable from their own.
When I was a 8, I tested as moderately-highly allergic to 40 of 60 common trees around where I grew up (Seattle), as well as to many other common weeds and other plants. Particularly bad were wetland, river and coastal trees (cottonwood is the worst). Old growth coniferous forest is noticeably better for me, and going into it has even stopped allergy attacks. I had debilitating allergies at times up til five years ago (do you know how much it sucks to have the roof of your mouth itch all the time?), when I moved to where I am near the edge of old growth redwoods. That may be just coincidence though. I never let allergies stop me from living and working outdoors in largely environments with plants I am allergic to for my entire adult life. I have been a backcountry ranger in river valleys and on coasts, and found borderline excessive hydration and spicy food to help with bad days that I had to work through while brushing or hiking through allergen inducing plants. Maybe it was just immersion that made my allergies go from what I would describe as an average of 7/10 on the reaction scale to 3/10 in the past 10 years. Its hard to say what made my allergies better. Antigen therapy before that may have helped a great deal, and over the counter mullein cherry and homeopathic histamin moderators seem to have correlated with a reduction in my allergies as well. I also moved about as far away from any city and dust as possible here, but the smoke is getting worse here in summer and that is irritating. I take zyrtec every day and find its the best OTC allergy medicine for me. I notice when I skip it. I'd rather not take any medication but it definitely works for me.
I also noticed some of your posts about what is going on with oil and or fracking pollution around your property. While you may have far less than industrialized city, water and air pollution can aggravate allergies to plants and other natural sources.
I’ve done this with handfuls of my local old growth forest soil, from coniferous and deciduous areas, from drier and wetland soils. It doesn’t seem to take much if using compost tea to inoculate relatively large areas and amounts of compost.
Go for it, that’d be very interesting. If you want an out of this world, “first time I ever tried grape soda at 5yrs old” flavor in an organic grape, the varietal Mars is just that. Muscat fresh tastes like fruit loops, and produces well in soils that wouldn’t produce great wine with most varietals. I am sure you could get rooted cuttings for less than 5$ a piece in bulk, probably no more than 20$ for an individual established 2-3yr old plant. Or you could make friends with a vintner, and be inundated in all the grapes, cuttings and wine you could ever want. I did that unknowingly at 8yrs old and have been reaping benefits I can never repay.
Coast redwoods are extremely insect and fungus resistant, hence the old growth wood's longevity (I know of an 80yr old bridge that is still sound, trunks can live 2250yrs). They have only 28 insects and 4 mites that can digest their wood, compared to over 300 species that can consume oak (can't remember which quercus it was compared to). However, the tannins which provide this protection increase in concentration exponentially until the tree is relatively mature at 300yrs.
In nature, the vast majority of seedlings never make the canopy, as they are consumed by elk or are out competed by reiterations (suckers) from established old trees' root systems. Reiterations of preexisting trees represent 98% of the trunks in an old growth redwood forest. A tree gets really established after 300yrs or so in old growth, and this is often the tallest the tree gets before breaking off when it reaches above the canopy, stimulating branching and thickening. That genetic individual redwood tree could live indefinitely (its latin name sempervirens = everliving tree). However, if the mythical Greek Titans teach us anything in how they were destroyed by their offspring, immortal beings need to be very judicious in their reproduction. So redwood seedlings generally only find the conditions to survive where a large tree has fallen. They either root on soil on a nurse log or on fallen giant's root ball reveals bare mineral soil so the deep forest duff cannot keep the seedling from reaching water and nutrients, and simultaneously it needs an almost miraculous fungal inoculation of that soil within a few weeks. The fungi necessary is also associated with red alder and doug fir, which are the primary and secondary succession species in establishing old growth redwood ecosystems, and you may be able to find a plantation of that more easily than it would be to find redwood duff. I remember seeing NW species being grown in Norwegian plantations (near Arendal). I also remember seeing sitka spruce, and would bet it also has some beneficial crossover fungus in its soil as a common companion to redwoods, but wonder if this has been transported in order to grow those trees healthily. I'd try making a compost tea from some of these common companion trees if possible, but I would not do any strong fertilization. Potting up proactively to avoid root bind is also important according to a friend in the park's restoration dept. They need a good amount of water, but also cannot tolerate wet feet for more than 24-36hrs. They really like a daily misting, as in large enough old growth stands they produce visible fog any time it gets hot (i.e. above 68F). This saves them the trouble of transporting that water (upto 500gal/day, equaling 4000lbs) up 300+ft. How's that for too much information!?
Redwoods need a particular assemblage of fungal associates to survive because they do not have root hairs. As mentioned above, they also thrive in a temperate, humid climate. In the summer they get over half their water from fog. In their native region, they grow just as well in the winter they grow as in the summer, being adapted with their conical shape to absorb lower light angles. However, they cannot survive soil temperatures below 18F/-8C. Any of these could be causing your tree problems, and without climate change even more dramatic than anyone anticipates, your tree will probably not see a second, let alone third millenium. As a ranger in the Redwoods where the park sold little trees, the closest analogue I have heard of was from people in Michigan with a redwood living in a well protected place to about 40-50 and then dying in a cold snap. I would bet its relative the giant sequoia would have a better shot in such places.