Cool project. I do wonder why no gutters Elle? Do they bother your aesthetic inclinations or are they Impractical for your house design? The coventional metal trough style can be a pain to put up alone, especially on an older building where you have to redo fascia. However, gutters can be seen as a key initial high water catchment point that allows you to direct the water harmlessly almost anywhere downhill. That high water catchment provides potential energy and aeration. However you are getting aeration how you are doing it and I like your rock work!
Also, are you concerned about the oil/gas well you’ve mentioned going in contaminating your ground water? I guess if you are catching roof water that will help, but I might test your water now and regularly in the future to observe the effects of your neighboring industrial project and provide that evidence to interested scientists, regulators, or in a worst case scenario lawyers.
Fair enough Trace, but you claimed to have done some research so I did not want to insult your ability to do it for yourself and vet your sources for yourself. I guess I come from a background where this is considered common knowledge, as my grandfather was shot and killed while armed and well trained (a WWII and Korea vet). Of course, we can always find someone to agree with any point of view we want so I encourage you to vet my claims:
Trace:” I have yet to see any credible study showing that a person that committed suicide would not have had a gun not been present.”
I think, like virtually every human being, you have been ignoring evidence you don’t like as well, because people with guns are vastly more likely to commit suicide. This indicates had a gun not been available, many of those suicides would not have happened. Just like any homicide or any other human activity, the easier we make something, the more likely we are to do it. Guns make suicide and other homicide much easier. How is this arguable? I could post them studies but you could also just google if interested in something beyond confirming your own preexisting beliefs.
Also, it is only fair to assume those with guns are probably more likely to be in dangerous situations and therefore sound studies should account for this with sound statistical analysis, which is doable.
I am glad you brought up the original intent of the 2nd Amendment Stacy “I firmly believe a well-armed populace is good protection from local leos”
The whole point was to protect the people from corrupt law enforcement. However, at this point we have militarized police to the point where arms would have to include much more than guns to even slow them down. It’s clear the only thing that makes the US govt listen to your demands are nukes (ie North Korea). I just don’t believe increasing your own lethality makes you safer, it simply makes everyone around you less safe, including yourself. People with guns are much more likely to die by them, and that has been proven many times over.
That's an excellent observation I have never made Laurent. It also is a similar survival strategy to banana slugs, who estivate (the dry season equivalent of hibernation) below deep forest duff. Considering soil fungus and banana slugs thrive in similar, moist and shady conditions, this is very plausible hypothesis.
Jason, I am glad your frustration and impatience are for such altruistic intentions.
I bet you would already have a more specific and useful answer if you posted your location, at least a general region. This is because I would recommend a locally native nitrogen fixator. If in the Pacific NW of North America, I would recommend Red Alder, and I would bet other alders throughout north america fixate nitrogen as well. Many early pioneer species have beneficial nitrogen fixating and soil building qualities (i.e. horsetail accumulates carbon and micronutrients in river sand). One benefit of natives is you would not have to buy inoculant or the plant. Also, you could start many of them for little cost. If you are worried about "waiting for nature," you could get some native soil from either the tree you dig up [ethically, ie thinning a thicket of seedlings], or if you are into buying local natives rather than foraging and propagating them, you could get a little soil and duff from a place your nitrogen fixating tree species lives. You don't need much.
That hopefully somewhat specific and helpful answer given, the wise folks telling you to be patient and let nature reward your good permaculture practices in good time are not wrong. If you are following the permie practice of enticing birds into your garden, you are accumulating nitrogen and other nutrients. Same goes for most other life, including insects we often consider pests. Fungus can fixate 200lbs of N/acre in forests that are too shady for native nitrogen fixating trees, and this is all the fastest growing forests on Earth (old growth redwoods) need, though Nitrogen is their limiting growth factor. Any trees supporting animals and other life in their canopy and roots, accumulate nutrients and slowly spreading them downstream with rain and dew drop. Evergreens can increase the phosphorus content of rainfall that weeps downstream by 25x (Mollison). If you are keeping animals, put them uphill of the garden and they will feed it.
I also would bet nitrogen fixators attract animals that then spread their inoculant, a bit like bees and flowers. Considering how nitrogen is an essential component of protein and chlorophyll, species as well as entire ecosystems would be evolutionarily rewarded for supporting nitrogen fixation. I would bet every lush ecosystem on Earth has nitrogen fixating support species like birds, insects, fish and other animals that help transport nitrogen fixating bacteria and fungus to recently disturbed and erodable/leachable land. I bet pigs carry a huge amount of good microbes on their tusks/snouts and in their guts, as do bears. The easiest and most successful way to plant many native plants to north america is as a part of bear scat. On an ever broader scale, ecosystems that support nitrogen fixation, just like those which support pollination, would be more stable and therefore stabilize land formations that are conducive to these ecosystem functions. As you probably also know already, mature trees can create and moderate their own weather to a large extent given enough range and time. This is why you are right about the difficulties of so many segmented small lots for natural processes of self-restoration to occur. However, if you do have a small lot, this allows you to concentrate a lot more on it and would better justify the time and energy collecting nitrogen and other soil building from locally abundant waste streams (ie neighbors' leaves and brush piles, ideally containing some nitrogen fixating tree material).
Either way, nature is not passive and ecosystems, being complex adaptive systems, express a kind of problem solving akin to intelligence based on natural selection. Over time evolution has selected for life which creates or supports favorable conditions for its self-perpetuation.
It's going to be fine, we all will be part of the singularity again soon enough. In fact we already are and just forget that reality from time to time.
That is weird about the lack of mycelium and fungus. You live in one of the most fungally rich and diverse regions on earth in Western WA. How close to the Sound are you? Any woody debris you bring in for mulch (barring an insane use of fungicides on the material) will harbor inoculating fungus, especially alder and douglas fir, which are the early succession species in coastal WA. Doug fir hosts the widest variety of fungus of any North American tree and has many endemic symbionts. Alder based fungus is necessary for many of the other native climax trees to grow. Bring in biomass of diverse sources and life will know what to do with it.
I love the Grateful Dead, have listened to hundreds of shows and all their albums. They have been the soundtrack to many transcendent experiences. Unfortunately I missed the boat, graduating high school in 2001 and never seeing them with Jerry. Having his "replacement," (John Mayer's) unlistenable caterwauling beaten into my brain by every woman I worked with in high school and college for hundreds of hours has made paying to see their current iteration unfathomable. I think they let him in to bring in younger women, as he is a decent guitarist (a shameful replacement for the greatest guitarist of all time in my opinion), but should have a sock surgically installed in his mouth. That said, Thank You Jerry!
I have not read all the replies to this post, but not seeing Sepp Holzer's approach mentioned yet at the end of the first page I'll toss it in:
Take some must (seeds and other biproducts of juice/cider/wine/brandy production) from your intended species, and plant them in your native soil en masse. Select heartlessly for vigor and like you would over seeded carrots and thin to the strongest (or otherwise physically preferable) individuals as the trees grow. If in 7yrs or so you do not like the fruit, you still have proven rootstock that you can graft over to a preferred variety. I cannot think of a faster or cheaper way to grow trees from seed with a virtually guaranteed return of some sort for your time and effort.
This is an interesting question, but I just take the general strategy of nitrogen/nutrient rich material going up high on the property/garden, and carbon rich materials forming a base or catchment for when it runs off or gets kicked down hill by birds. This lets composting and soil accumulation happen more passively, I just have to "be the salmon" and carry those nutrients upstream to the high points.
Unfortunately all the people who hurt themselves or unintended victims with their “survival” weapons do not post their videos much. I have spent many years of my life living in and around the closest thing to “wilderness” we have as well as living in dense urban areas. You do not need a gun in either. If you want one, I suppose many people can be responsible with them and they can be useful and humane for hunting, but my point is you really don’t need a gun in any situation, they on average do not make anyone safer.
Not one thru-hiker I met carried a gun on the PCT. The last gun toter I saw was before mile 300, and despite being a paratrooper vet he was hurting beyond his ability to bear from his heavy pack (not just his gun but the mentality of "better to have it and not need it" in general) and didn't make it much farther from what I heard. I carried a full first aid kit and had Wilderness First Responder training, for emergencies, which came in handy and made my life feel more worthwhile and valid. On the other hand to contribute a different point of view from many of those expressed, I would not want to live with having used a firearm in the vast majority of scenarios they are used, so I do not carry one. I am not a pacifist, I have brawled with people bragging about or who I knew to be abusing children or women. I am willing to play the math and accept the risk of having to protect myself and those I care about with words or fisticuffs in exchange for knowing I will never accidentally or intentionally shoot myself or anyone else.
That aside, I would recommend a WFR to anyone homesteading for the healthcare savings and risk management training alone, but the biggest value is meeting amazing people at every training.
Do you really think if I had a weapon I could have determined if it was warranted to use on a mother bear and cub before it was too late? No, I could not. So maybe a gun would have helped me preemptively poach that bear, but it would have been a ridiculously irresponsible thing to do and having a gun would have only helped me do that, not actually protect myself in a necessary situation.
Weapons do not make you safer, this is proven statistically (I have studied outdoor risk management), they simply make every living thing around you less safe. So the best survival weapon is a brain that can effectively weigh and manage risk.
Hike the Pacific Crest Trail or go work in outdoor education. I met my wife on the PCT, where she had her pick of the litter as 90% of the hikers were men. Even as a straight guy, Its hard not to notice when sizing up “the competition” how disproportionately handsome, kind and intelligent dudes tend to be in situations like long distance hikes (voluntary vagrancy, happily homeless and proactively practicing poverty) and teaching outdoor ed (almost no pay or professional respect but lots of deeper rewards). I theorize this is because, in order for a guy to have the stones to choose these paths in life, he has to have the self confidence that he’s got something to offer other than money or status. You also tend to find people seeking self realization and willing to work for it.
An additional benefit for ladies in outdoor ed is how middle managers tend to be women who act like female Harvey Weinsteins in their hiring of mostly people they are attracted to.
Wesley Hall wrote:If you were able to follow the trencher and fill the trench with say woodchips then this would avoid the leg breaking aspect and still allow water to be captured. It would then be similar to keylining but with a slight berm to also help capture water. I would still try and create some spillway on the berm to allow water to safely pass by it and not destroy the berm that you create.
I was just doing as search to make sure an idea for a new post was not redundant and found this description of something similar to what I have done with success so far. After using a trencher in installing irrigation pipe at a food forest site in a poorly drained location have worked on and helped design to work with this overabundance of water in winter, we decided to further utilize the work done in installing 4" french drain pipe/weeping tile atop the irrigation pipe which ran around the perimeter of the sit. We then stuffed woody debris (branches and small logs) into the trench up to 4" below grade, then topped with wood chips for a path for humans as well as fungus. One might think the wood may float when the trench floods, which it did, but by that point the wood was sufficiently waterlogged to stay put even when we had 5" in a day and the field was muck. We found far more diverse fungal growth along this wood filled trench. Also, being very close to level and sitting upon a nearly impermeable silcrete layer, it allows for underground irrigation and fertigation that reduces losses to evaporation. We are close to completing a similarly designed french drain around a 1200sq ft greenhouse we just installed, where the runoff will go to small settling ponds and then bog gardens and wetlands before overflowing, going down through forest-wetland and towards a stream. It seems a trench dug at the right slope (1:500-1000), such as one could dig with a rented trencher, filled with woody debris (and perforated pipe where feasible) could function a lot like a keyline done with a specialize plow. That's my theory and its showing benefits so far in just over a year. I will post pictures and video shortly.
Just speculating, but much like in fish farms, I would imagine these captive butterflies may harbor diseases wild populations may be unaccustomed to. Being fed and cared for, they have not been forced to prove their fitness and therefore if released may consume resources needed by wild butterflies and expose them to captive bred diseases, but themselves are less likely to survive and breed in the wild. Captive bred animals are often a far greater risk to wild ones than vice versa.
I have muscovies, and in my experience you will definitely need to protect any plants you want to grow around ducks. You can however fertigate with your duck water and it is fantastic as an all around nutrient source (the highest Phosphorus of any common livestock animal). I'd just cut it back in the fall to reduce nitrogen influx and encourage fruiting.
Bill Mollison mentions 200lbs/acre can be fixated by fungus in a mature conifer forest. According to Noss, redwood forests, the fastest growing terrestrial ecosystems on earth, are ultimately limited by available nitrogen. I do not recall him mentioning a number for fungal nitrogen fixation though.
Bill Mollison points out that you find snails and slugs residing and not eating on fire resistant plants (comfrey, canna lillies etc). They can't move away from fire very well so they don't eat the plants that can help protect them from it. Being a snail sanctuary is a good indicator of plant species that hold moisture and resist fire.
I thought I should point out, of course I did not run that hose! It was all hypothetical and my wife wouldn't have let me anyhow. I really just wanted to hear some great explanation of why it would be stupid or possibly might work. Of course pulling out of the water table isn't worth it, and the garden is rocking along with a watering no more than once every two weeks. Usually more like once a month for fast growing annuals and never for perennials.
Great points all, I thought Northern CA-Southern OR had it bad until I saw the BC fire map. I was just backpacking up in the west side rainforest of Olympic NP and the first day was the hottest I've ever seen it there (I was a backcountry ranger there for 3 summers). It was unbelievably humid and uncomfortable for that place I always associated with temperance and perfect backpacking weather in the summer. Then it occurred to me...
This is why this forest still exists, its how it repels fire. The heat was causing immense transpiration from the trees upwards of 12' thick, and the smoke was holding that moisture low in the atmosphere, helping create a cool overcast weather pattern in a couple days. This is ultimately how the cloud forest just above the lower plain is formed at about 900-2000' ft, where yellow cedars over 3000yrs old are found and show a lack of catastrophic fire over their history. We see a similar phenomenon in the redwoods back where I live now. These rain and cloud forests near the coast must have contributed immense moisture inland. If a mature redwood can transpire 500gal/day, and in old growth you have 10 mature trees/acre, over the original 2mil acre range of the redwoods that was 10billion gallons of water transpired per day, carried inland usually and deposited over forest areas that are now burning like mad. Of course massive spruce-fir-cedar forests up north would do similarly. When I think of it this way, in addition to the loss of our precious beavers (http://s3cf.recapguide.com/img/tv/441/7x9/Trailer-Park-Boys-Season-7-Episode-9-43-d06d.jpg), it's obvious why we are now getting a slap up side the head with wildfire.
Assuming you are using plastic as a cover, you could dig a little deeper right at the edge of the greenhouse and bury a bit of the plastic at the edge to function as a gutter. Or put in some weeping tile/4” pipe with slits that absorb and disperse water. You could cut the pipe in half lengthwise and leave it open or bury it whole. If it’s level you will disperse water evenly, if you tilt it you can send it somewhere you want it to go first.
In the west coast coniferous forests understory food plants include vaccinum (blue/cran/huckleberry), hazelnuts, tanoak and true oak acorns, wild ginger, gooseberry, oregon grape, sorrel, edible ferns (licorice fern and swordfern fiddleheads), and of course fungi galore. I would bet the NE has similar understory plant diversity, if not greater given the deciduous diversity. Also, the snow and snowshoes were used as a tool for hunting in Algonquin and other NE native cultures. NW First Salmon ceremonies and other overfishing prevention mores are similar to self imposed restrictions of NE native peoples on the exploitation of the advantages snowshoes provided in hunting. It has been said many times that the colder you get, the more hunting and livestock is necessary to utilize the energy naturally stored in animals in such ecosystems.
Of course they will strip trees too, which is why predators are so helpful ecologically (or dogs in your landscape, or just eat them yourself). But when you are starting from nothing, they are probably giving as much organic matter value as they take, and are introducing soil biology. It’s all the more reason to learn to graft, gather seed, and make Fukuoka seed balls to more efficiently manage costs and time as you let nature do the heavy lifting for you.
Roberto, your points remind me of a forest walk I used to lead called “Trees take us back in time” and how we can read the past through these “hieroglyphs written with sunbeams”. A Doug fir tells you it was open at the forest floor when it sprouted because it needed 6hrs light to survive. A western hemlock tells you no significan fire has come through during its life. A redwood tells you the temperature has been pretty tolerable for its lifetime. It’d be interesting to learn to read an eastern forest, which would be like Greek to me.
It may make you feel better about herbivory to consider that the animals you mentioned are working on a one in, one out policy when it comes to food-feces. They are trading what you have for something that was more abundant elsewhere. They are building soil as macrodecomposers, but of course they don't consider the optimal time to harvest like you might want. Mollison would tell you to feed those animals and then eat them. You could also use motion activated sprinklers to scare them off.
The coniferous forests of North America's most significant food product for humans was anadromous fish (salmon, trout, candlefish). This produced more predictable, prolific and high quality protein than any modern use of that land has, especially considering how little work they took to maintain and the other foods and forest products produced like those mentioned above. It was basically just harvest responsibly and don't mess up the habitat. Now that we've done the opposite of that, I see it as my responsibility to improve the downstream habitat of anywhere I garden by slowing, soaking and shading any water I have come across my property.
They sure can! I have them under plum, apple and pear trees that produce much better with the birds underneath. I like a mixed flock of muscovies, chickens and turkeys. The main caveat for mixing them would be to have enough female ducks (4:1 at least) to males to reduce sexual aggression towards the chickens. Spanish cross turkeys can take care of themselves and are excellent sentries for raptors and raccoons.
So I just spent all day cutting up an unproductive plum tree I took most of down this winter. While I am doing a Hail Mary graft on the base and or suckers with a preferred varietal, I should not judge cutting trees as a wipe sawdust off. I heat my house with wood. And if it matters, you all seem like good people to me.
I have done a ton of research on dendrology and forest biomass accumulation as a education ranger in Olympic and Redwood NP. I was told to stop by my boss because I got too wonky. Most of my knowledge is about NW species and the SE’ deciduous forest has important differences that I should not pretend to know about. However, Robert, while of course your points about tree growth rates are useful in selective logging of second growth to maximize regrowth, It seems correlated that the largest biomass forests on earth like those I have lived in are also sequestering more carbon each year they grow intact (Noss’ book on Redwood Ecology), with trees that grow faster each year (on average) until their heartwood overtakes their sap wood and chokes the cambium. This limits the Redwood trunk lifespan to about 2500yrs because the heartwood increases at a faster exponential rate to the sapwood. At the same time, these Redwood trees are unique as conifers able to reiterate from any part of the plant like vines. Either way, it is generally true of coniferous trees and forests of the west that they grow more aggregate biomass the older they are, and this makes sense if you think about the increase in photosynthetic surface area with a taller canopy with mixed heights of understory beneath. Of course a fourth year tree has greater potential to put on more relative biomass it’s fifth year, but that’s based on a much smaller base. It’s like a small economy growing at 12% a year, whereas a massive one like the US can’t sustain more than 2-3% but that’s still a lot more money accumulation overall than the developing country. A mature forest has more photosynthetic area to power carbon sequestration, sugar production and all the life processes and ecosystem benefits that result.
That being said, we have finally tipped towards more Redwood growth than is being cut down with selective logging in Redwood country’s second growth along the lines of points Robert made about how trees grow to fill gaps in the canopy from fallen trees. When thinning second growth and taking some larger trees for some short term economic benefit (their wood is also vastly better) but still considering longterm sustainability and profit, we take out a large percentage of small trees and a very small percentage of the larger trees, and none of the truly old growth (250yrs+) ideally.
Back to the original post, I think you will do the right thing for your situation given that you seem to care and seek advice. I would prioritize summer shade in your climate, but I am from the temperate rainforest and can’t take heat. In looking for your tree/trees to take out, you could remove one that shades prized trees that will be north of your house site and they would help make up for the carbon and habitat loss in the tree you take. Ultimately, A good house site and build can save many trees in the long run by reducing heating costs if you use wood, so that may be more important than any individual tree if it’s not really that old. My neighbor cut down some trees here that were 24” thick and 18yrs old.
Of course you can do what you want, and Bryant is right about the impact on roots (it generally correlates across the tree like an ‘s’, w north facing roots supplying south facing branches). But Bill Mollison is pretty explicit that permaculture ethics do not validate cutting down established forest for doing permaculture. Taking out as little as possible and putting it to long term use may be worth it and certainly people do worse, and I am glad someone who cares enough to ask, like you, is doing it. However, in terms of impact on your watershed, wildlife and carbon balance, taking out a big tree is exponentially worse than taking out a small one. With deeper roots and exponentially more photosynthetic surface area, Larger, older trees grow much more biomass per year, even relative to acreage in evergreens. It would also be wise consider site location beyond just where a dead tree happens to be. I don’t know your climate so I don’t know if you want shade or sun on your dome, or whether the trees are deciduous or evergreen.
It seems like you care so you will be a lot better on the land than the next guy, but I just thought I’d point out the old logger fallacy about “overaged trees are mostly dead and grow slower, just look at how the rings get skinnier as they go out!” This logger fallacy that was used to validate cutting down our greatest forests is just a demonstration of geometric illiteracy, as the skinny rings are going around a much larger circle!
I have what seems like it may be a dumb question...To fill or not to fill the pond artificially?
Since my hand dug, only partially gleyed duck pond went dry a couple weeks after the last rain (May), I have just been giving the ducks a 35gal tub inside a 6" deep hydro basin to clean off in. Every day or two I drain or pump the dirty water onto hugel beds around my property. They seem happy enough with it so I have not filled the pond/pit I dug last fall. It is unsealed besides duck gley and green waste, and holds water longer than it originally did but is still not fully sealed.
My question about filling pond with tap water is both regarding ethics and hydrology.
I know that just letting water run through my system, with its immense amount of woody debris filtering between currently unsealed ponds and wicking to hugel beds would increase my plant yields and the amount of life I support. I could start raising fish eventually after it eventually seals from my ducks. I get the cheapest water of anywhere in California because this is the wettest part, but it is naturally a winter wet-summer dry climate. I see other local, organic farms literally opening up fire hydrant like flows into the middle of their fields for seemingly no reason and with what would seem to be great harm to their soil. I know my one garden hose running at the top of my property and filtering through its entirety would be a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things but still am hesitant to risk wasting a lot of water just letting it flow. It is the middle of the dry season here, and while my property is greener than anyone else around from all the water I slowed and sank into my soil over the winter, it would burst with growth with a good soaking.
Would I be a bad permie if I were to just run my filtered tap water until the whole system was saturated, ponds filled and hugel beds wicking, and then recirculate it all from the bottom pond, at that point turning the water input down to a minimum? This would take days of running the hose on full, at the least. Is this just a wasteful, stupid, insane way to use potable water? Thanks for your feedback!
In response to Wayne's original question/statement:
No matter what the pesticide is, when we kill the pests, we kill the predators thru starvation if not toxicity bioaccumulation. In addition to bioaccumulating toxins in their bodies to 10x the amount found in their food, predators always take longer to breed and do so in response to their prey. So even if we are just killing our pests with physical means, we are setting back their predators even more and will have to do the work of the predators ourselves. I don't mean to say any of this with any moral judgement. I actually enjoy squishing aphids, but probably not as much as a lacewing larvae enjoys eating them.
It is becoming nearly impossible to find anywhere "clean" nowadays, but I would seriously consider moving if I lived in a place too toxic for predatory insects. This is because that toxicity is often bioaccumulating many more times (at a factor of 10 in each trophic step) en route to you and your family, especially if we eat meat or dairy. Even neem has some serious health effects, which probably correlated to how it can be powerful medicine, but of course any medicine isn't always something we want to be taking perpetually through our food.
We may not have a lot of your SE swarms of insects, but we do have a green rush here in NorCal that has bred some prodigious mites and aphids. I have used neem and bt with marginal success, and even made my own lemongrass and castor oil spray that worked for awhile. But having seen the end game being less and less success in fighting the bottom of the trophic ladder, I am now in my second year going without sprays. After a setback correlated to starts being in a greenhouse, the predators I have reintroduced (lacewings, ladybugs, predatory mites) and encouraged (lots of simple flowers like Umbels to attract the aforementioned predators as well as beneficial wasps and flies) have started knocking back the pests and seem to be keeping them under control as well as sprays did.