I live in the PNW of Canada. We get steady winter downpours to drizzles followed by summer droughts (seasonal droughts, not Cali style endless droughts). Our property is on a slight slope with the house near the top and a pond near the bottom. The whole homestead/rural life is fairly new to me, so I'm lacking depths of experience, and working on building skills and learning where ever I can. I'm having troubles finding information on how to deal with excess water.
The permie water solutions seem to focus more on drylands (no water!) or sporadic downpours with surface runoff (swales!), or some combination of the two. The little I've seen regarding wetlands focuses on chinampas. I'm living in a whole other world, neither dryland nor swamp...
We have areas of our property that get very waterlogged over the winter. As we've lived here the last 3 winters, it seems to be getting worse, and this past winter of El Nino downpours didn't help. As I mentioned, we have a slight slope, dropping 5 feet over 300 feet... very slight, but it is a slope. This past winter, though, areas of standing water, puddles, soggy ground have increased. I'm not needing to dry it all out (impossible!) but I would like to divert and redirect so as to keep zones 0 and 1 a bit drier. I do plan to add a pond or two higher up the slope out in zone 3/4.
I'm looking for ideas and techniques and more specifically solid resources for the diy rural ditch digger.
I'm on the Wet Coast (though our summers are drought like). We've owned our place for almost 3 years. Our 5 acre place has a small pond at the lower end (though the slope is gentle), so much of the winter rain ends up in the pond, due to slope. There has never been much attempt to create any intentional water movement in the past, as far as I can tell. I need to start diverting water, especially away from the gravel driveway area and around the house. Eventually it will end up in the pond. Currently it's causing problems, especially during heavy rains. I'm pretty sure what to do to move the water away, I'm looking for help regarding using the waters path to good measure.
I'd like the water to do some work on the way down hill. I'm looking for inspiration, examples, designs, plans, etc... for 'runoff gardens'. I'm familiar with the urban 'rain gardens' along roads and sidewalks. I'm looking for something more 'country, smallholder permaculture'. It would also be best if it could handle DRY summers (almost no rain from April to October). It could be food, pollination, beauty... Perhaps even an early season water crop that I could harvest before the spot dries out in the summer.
I'm looking for suggestions of useful shrubs that will thrive in seasonal standing water. I have an area on my property that collects water through out the winter, and dries out in the summer. I'd like to fill it in with something productive, preferably food, and not too tall (no willow trees). I'm Zone 7, West coast, which means wet wet winters and seasonal summer 'drought' (80% of precipitation between Nov and March).
Hey all, I'm posting an idea I've been considering, looking for feedback and resources. First though, some context:
I have a 5 acre parcel on Vancouver Island (PNW climate). It is a bit inland, so coastal effects are minor (no salt wind, etc...). The property is a rectangle, busy road along one edge, a quiet road along another edge and woods/forest along the 3rd and 4th edges. Surrounding properties are a mix of wooded rural residential (~5 acres) and agricultural pasture (~30-80 acres). We also live in a 'no gun hunting' area, though bow hunting is legal. I am not a hunter.
I hope to develop large areas of the property as food forest/savanna.
Obviously deer pressure is high, they come right up to the back door at night and crop the tops off our cherry tomatoes. The property was a 'country horse people residence' for 40 odd years, so it's mostly pasture with decrepit short fencing along the perimeter, as well as a short fence around the 'yard' by the house. We've installed a high, 7.5' fence around our new veggie garden, which keeps the deer out just fine.
I'm not enthusiastic about trying to fence the whole property line with high fencing, too expensive, too resource intensive (metal wire, posts, digging labour/machines) and too much like living in a compound. We have a lazy old city dog who will chase deer, but spends nights inside (when the real damage occurs). We plan to get a younger dog soon, and I plan to use 'magic bone sauce' to protect individual trees. However, bonce sauce won't help herbaceous plants and dogs are no guarantee (nor problem free).
Now the idea: I've been considering the adage that deer don't like to jump both high and wide, nor do they like to jump into unseen or narrow landing zones. As such I am thinking of planting an outside hedgerow of thorny plants, piling brush and tree trimmings behind the thorny layer, followed by a second line of productive fedge plants on the inside. I hope if the total width is 5+ feet, and maximum height is 5+ feet, it will exclude deer. Thorny plants I'm considering are Black Hawthorn, Nootka Rose, Sea buckthorn, Barberry. I would also include various insectary, nutrient accumulator and nitrogen fixers to support the main plants. I'm also considering adding some taller trees to the mix for nuts or timber. The fedge side is as of yet unplanned, truly the thorny barrier is the main purpose. I have no plans to create a 'pleached' hedgerow in the British style, since I'm not worried about containing cattle or sheep.
Now for the questions: How could I establish this hedgerow and increase chances of success (tips/techniques)? What other plants would you suggest? Would you plant right to the decrepit fence line or leave a gap (if so, how wide)? Can you suggest any resources for further reading/research, especially regarding establishment techniques? Have you any examples where this has been successfully done?
As a city boy living on 5 acres I'm a bit stumped regarding the possibilities when it comes to dealing with water flow on my land. I feel like I have a good theoretical grasp of the permie versions of earthworks (swales and keyline) but I'm not so sure about more traditional earthworks, such as drains, ditches, etc...
Can anyone suggest a decent reference manual for the skilled homesteader? I have a compact tractor, shovels, picks, energy and time... what I lack is the knowledge of what to do and how to do it. While swales and the like are a great option for most of my property, they won't help when dealing with driveway or hardscape (patio) water issues.
You shouldn't need to add any water to sauerkraut. Chop the cabbage and layer it in the container, adding salt every 1/2 inch or so. Press each layer down hard with your knuckles. The salt should extract enough water from the cabbage. If not, your cabbage is too old...
Well then, if you were a Kiwi you'd understand. Aussies are just upside down Yanks
And I'm just poking light-hearted fun at ya. You know how us 'lesser' neighbours can get a bit huffy at times. BTW, I went to kindy in Sunny Banks, Brisbane.
I've always found that one of the limitations of the interwebz is engaging in playful banter.
Back to the topic at hand, I'm actually seriously exploring having a small house (~2 bedroom bungalow) moved up to my property, using the very folks that Dale is working with in this thread. It seems to be a chance to economically develop a residual source of income. If I could find renters of a permie bent that wanted to chip in developing our place, so much the better!
I've done some digging myself regarding cheap seeds. Here's what I've learned:
* I was unable to find anything online that was substantially cheaper than everywhere else. Seems the market is consistent.
* In an effort to seek out 'low quality' or 'expired' seeds I called West Coast Seeds and spoke to a very helpful gentleman there. He claims their margins on cover crops are so tight, they are selling almost at cost. They are a small enough distributor that they can't store excess seed and try and estimate how much they'll sell in a year. He also suggested that buying a rail car worth of seed quarters the price, so connecting with a farmer ordering seeds by the ton might be a way to find cheap seed (not going to happen on Van Isle).
* I called CFIA and asked about seed importation from the states. No problem as long as you obtain a seed inspection certificate (ostensibly US regulations regarding noxious weeds are less stringent). I doubt that would be worth it for a few acres worth of seed.
So, long story short... buying cheap seed in Canada is out of reach for the small scale operator.
Now... how does one seed save from clover??
In any case I attacked my thistles with a machete last year. Worked pretty well, but I've only got a few small patches.
I just bought a 29 hp Kubota, diesel and 4x4. I did a lot of research, asking questions on forums, talking with the dealer... Here's some tidbits I learned:
Small tractors usually lose traction before they run out of power, in other words the low weight is the problem. I was worried about compaction as well (similar situation to you, lots of winter rain) so I stayed on the smaller end. The loss of traction is mostly a problem when doing ground work (plowing/ripping/tilling). If you have few plans for that type of work, small and light is usually fine.
FEL are amazing, and there are lots of funky attachments (both commercial and DIY) to increase their utility.
Tractor backhoes, on the other hand, are very limited. Unlike a proper excavator (even the minis), the tractor BH can only twist 45 degrees off center (as opposed to 180), and every time you need to shift position to keep digging you have to raise the pads, switch seats, move slightly and set up again. A proper excavator can crawl on the tracks and keep digging. Even the local dealer suggested the tractor BH wasn't worth it (unless you grow money on trees). He recommended renting a mini-excavator when needed.
By the same logic, I decided a tilller wasn't worth it. I can rent a walk behind once for $50 and till up new garden space or I can by a PTO tiller for over $1000 and let it collect dust, since good Permies don't till...
I bought new since used were almost the same price, no warranty and who knows what kind of abuse... obviously resale value is high on well maintained second hand compacts.
A flail mower: I have old pasture I'd like to rehabilitate and a flail mower will mulch long grass and other herbaceous plants (even thin woody stems). The mulching effect mimics the mob grazing effect of livestock hitting lush vegetation for short spurts. I hope this will help with soil building in my pasture.
Well... by large I mean 'bigger than Port MacNeil'... Large enough to have more than 1 pizza place, more than 1 gas station, more than 1 grocery store... large enough to live in the country, close to services and still have hope for a modicum of 'urban' culture... Large enough to have a choice of high schools for teens (in case things go south at the first school).
Speaking of the weather, did you get enough of a winter taste the last few weeks? Are you heading to Seedy Saturday?
Does anyone have a good source for purchasing cheap, bulk cover crop or biomass seeds in Canada (or even in the US with decent shipping)? I'd like to overseed my pasture with goodness: White clover, daikon, vetch, etc... I'm not even too concerned if the quality is weak (I'd rather pay peanuts for 50% germination than diamonds for 95% germination)...
Did you ever track down a cheap Canadian source of seeds? I'm on Van Isle with an old pasture (I've got thistle patches too) and looking to try overseeding, hopefully I can build soil, establish better plants and eventually transition to food focused silvopasture (pastured pork and nuts and fruit!).
I live on Vancouver Island on the West Coast of Canada; a temperate maritime climate (similar to Seattle). We get over 75 inches of rain a year, with 80% falling between October and May. We rarely drop much below freezing (January average low is 0.3C/32.5F) and summers are mild (average July high 22.5C/72.5F) with little precipitation and sunny days. We receive nearly 2000 sunshine hours annually. The Köppen scale would place us as a Csb climate (Dry Summer Temperate Maritime), with typical maritime Cfb not too far distant (north and western parts of Van Isle).
I’m seeking resources and information on earthworks for my particular climate. I’ve found lots of great information for Deserts, Drylands, Cool Climate and typical Temperate climates. However, I have found almost nothing regarding earthworks as it pertains to the Csb climate type. At first I assumed that recommendations for other climates would be pertinent for my area, but a video with D. Doherty suggests otherwise (
). As always in Permaculture, it depends…
My analysis of why typical earthwork solutions may not be appropriate is as follows:
• Swales are intended to slow surface water flow and allow the water enough time to infiltrate the soil.
• Many climates struggle to reduce erosion due to reduced plant cover.
• Most Permaculturists advocating swales are based in climates where sporadic large precipitation events followed by substantial dry periods are a significant concern, often these locations are either historically not forested, or have been largely deforested.
My situation seems fundamentally different:
• We receive sustained, light precipitation for 7-8 months of the year, with very little precipitation during the summer.
• We have very few ‘large’ precipitation events.
• Much of the region is heavily forested (mostly coniferous with some deciduous) and soils are easily able to absorb precipitation levels.
• Surface flow is not a concern, neither is bare soil; if anything we suffer from over vigorous plant growth as well as pooling of water and seasonally boggy ground.
Can anyone suggest resources, videos, books, papers, contact info, podcasts, etc… that deal specifically with Permaculture earthworks in Dry Summer Temperate Maritime climates? I am loathe to expend the time/money/energy creating earthworks verbatim if they are truly inappropriate for my climate and region. Can anyone point to instances where it was tried and it worked, tried and modified, entirely other approaches were used?
I do plan to post this question to multiple sites, apologies if you run in to it more than once.
TL,DR: Standard Permaculture Earthworks seem inappropriate for Temperate Coastal, Dry Summer areas. Can you suggest earthwork resources specific to the particulars of this climate?
Sorry it's been a while since your last post... life gets busy, eh?
Forbidden Plateau is beautiful, but some of those properties may be fairly high in elevation, which means a lot more snow, and a much shorter growing season; it might also make access more challenging in the winter.
I'm not sure about the 'equestrian zoning', we have lots of zoning variation around here... In any case it would be 'allowed to have horses' not 'horses required'. Almost all of our zoning laws are about restrictions not requirements (other than basic building codes as well as health and safety).
As for the wind, it will be windiest closer to the water. I grew up in Victoria, which is the southern tip of the Island (surrounded by ocean) and since moving here I have been surprised by how much less wind there is, though we are a few kilometres from the coast. That being said, when a real storm blows through it hits everywhere (winds of 100 km/h yesterday). It can really change based on specific location, though. As I said, lots of microclimates.
Succession is amazing, no doubt about it... However, I'm not willing to wait decades, nor be so hands off. I also don't have the cargo capacity, nor the time, to scavenge 3000 cubic yards of mulch. 3.5 acres mulched to 6 inches works out to just under 3000 cubic yards, and with my 4'x8' trailer that's in the neighbourhood of 1500 loads... So let me clarify:
I'm seeking pasture seeding ideas/techniques that are at a budget level (both time and money). I guess I'm wondering if it's possible to 'underseed' (as in lesser amounts and therefore cheaper) a pasture with highly vigorous plants, plants which are still useful to poultry and pigs, and let those plants reseed over a year or two, in the 'go forth and multiply' sense. Are there certain species or certain densities of seeds that can make a difference? In the same vein, at what minimum seeding rate per acre is it not worth it?
At the same time I do understand that different species have very different seeding rates... And I'm not looking for shrub/tree culture ideas; I am planning food forestry areas on the property, but I'm like to keep this 3.5 acres as mostly open pasture.
It just occurred to me: Perhaps I'm seeking a variant of the 80-20 concept (the Pareto Principle) for pasture seeding. The idea that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So again I ask: Is there a tricksy/folksy way to reseed a polyculture pasture?
I have about 3.5 acres of compacted, old horse pasture in the PNW. Wet winters, dry summers. The pasture currently grows well enough with grasses and yarrow, a few patches of thistle. It is slightly sloped with only minor 'wet spots' after solid winter rainy spells.
I'd like to heal/rehabilitate the pasture. I'm planning on developing it as silvopasture over the long term, with polyculture fedges/tree lines and raising ducks/hens/geese/hogs in the 'paddocks'. I have access to a compact tractor with a chain harrow and a flail mower. I'm not able to overwinter any large animals, other than some laying poultry (perhaps a dozen or so).
I've read up on overseeding pasture, and I'm considering a seed mix of pasture grasses, brassicas, clovers, vetches, daikon and rape.
My conundrum is a lack of experience and a limited cash flow (I'm asset comfy while cash flow is minor). I've been researching bulk seeds and convectional overseeding rates and it seems I could easily spend hundreds of dollars just in a seasons worth of seed (keep in mind this is Canada, where everything costs more... except health care).
Please advise me how I can heal/rehabilitate my pasture, increase the pasture botany and build soil, while keeping costs as low as possible. Maybe there's no way around it; I just have to spend the money. But maybe... there's something awesome and simple I just don't know...
I'd like to plant some shade trees to help keep our place cooler in the summer. We have lot's of SW facing windows. I've tried searching online for specifics, but everything I've found is very basic ("plant trees to the SW of the house"...).
Can anyone suggest a location where I could find specific calculations? How tall of a tree will shade what height of window from which direction at whatever latitude... The math can't be hard, all I need is some formulas or rules of thumb.
We are definitely the mildest part of Canada, both winter and summer. And very long, wet, grey winters. Some folks who move here have a hard time with the winters if they are used to colder, sunnier climates. Some folks who move here miss 'real' summers...
As for land prices, well BC is generally expensive compared to much of North America, but I imagine Europe (especially the north) is far more expensive. Price per acre decreases as the size of the property increases... so you might pay $300,000 for 2 acres, $500,000 for 7 acres and $1.5 million for 40 acres. But it also is very dependent on location, land and what sort of buildings are present.
You also need to keep in mind that the Island is atypical, since most of our settlement is along one highway. Unlike most areas, you won't find property 360 degrees around a town, most of the properties will be either north or south of town, while the other directions are ocean and mountains. This limits availability of potential real estate.
Vancouver Island is about 460km long and runs NE/SW. Most of the population lives on the east side of the Island, and on the southern half of the east side. The biggest city is Victoria with a population of 350,000. The west coast of the Island is almost completely wilderness with only a few small fishing/logging/tourism settlements.
I live on the east side, about half way up the Island. My area is the last 'large' population center on the way north, there are only small towns on the northern half (the biggest one is 4000 people). I'm planning on growing lots of food, but we've only been here 6 months and it will take a while to get serious food production happening.
The climate is mild and wet, though most of the rainfall (80%) is October to April. The summers are dry. The west side is facing the Pacific ocean and much wetter than the east side. There are lots of little local microclimates. Obviously as one moves north up the Island, winters get a bit colder, though the 'big city' of Victoria is rarely the hottest place in the summer (southern tip of the island so lots of wind to cool off the weather). Summer temps rarely get above 30C while Winter temps rarely get below 0C (though we did get 4-5 days of -10C two weeks ago). Again, it depends on local variations and latitude.
As for growing food... We have small (5-50 ha) commercial wineries on the Island, though the red wines are rarely worth drinking. We can grow kiwis, apples, pears, but stone fruits (peaches etc...) often have a hard time ripening, as do hot peppers, melons. Even tomatoes take some care to get good crops (cooler summers). On the other hand we can grow lots of brassicas and greens that keep in the ground all winter long. People even grow ornamental palm trees and banana trees in Victoria. The southern end of the island claims to have a 9 month growing season... albeit a cool 9 months. There are numerous pockets of permaculture, and many, many people who grow gardens and food in a more 'traditional' sense.
I was born and raised on Vancouver Island, and still live there, so I'll try and give you an overview of BC.
There is only 1 real international airport, Vancouver. While some of the other airports fly 'internationally' it's really only to certain US locations, as far as I know. You might be able to fly from one of the regional airports to another larger centre, and then fly on internationally, but the main hub for the province is Vancouver. As Michael said Vancouver is large and expensive. Houses on urban lots run over $1 million Canadian; acreages.... I don't even want to know. So unless you're loaded, forget about living within a few hours of Vancouver and owning land.
As for the rest of the Province there is:
-The Islands: Vancouver Island is big (bigger than Belgium...), population about 500,000. The other islands (the Gulf Islands) are much smaller. All of the islands are only accessible by ferry, and they are in the process of reducing ferry service to the Gulf Islands. Otherwise the Islands are typical Maritime Temperate Rain Forest, lots of mountains and hills.
The Okanagon: This is South Central, big lakes, fairly expensive, wine growing country (used to be fruit orchards). Drier than the coast, more temperature extremes. High population density (many retirees and vacation homes owned by Alberta oil money).
The Kootenays: This is the South East part of the province, lot's of mountains and valleys. Some wetter, some drier. Many small towns (5000 - 20,000 population). The towns can be quite different... Nelson is hippy, Castlegar is resource based (logging/mining), Creston is agricultural...
The Cariboo-Chilcotin: This is the Central part of the province. Emptier, drier, Ranching, Logging, Mining... This probably the best part of the province for real 'Horse Country', especially if you want the cowboy feel, rather than the 'equestrian' feel.
The North: Even though it's called 'The North' it's really the northern half of the province... Very empty... bigger than Sweden... One city, Prince George (pop 70,000).
As for mountain ranges, it would be impossible to live anywhere in the province and not be near a mountain range... They tend to get bigger as you head East.
I was wondering if you'd estimate for me the area of land in the photo. Is this all the land your cultivating? Where did the pigs live? Did the free range on pasture? Maybe you've already covered this, and just want to link me to the info.
I'm curious how your space compares to our, currently in the planning stage, property.
Unfortunately, no Star Trek style tricorder exists for analyzing food nutrient density. You'd essentially need a chemistry lab so you could extract and measure all the nutrients.
Currently, Brix is the best concept for estimating nutrient density in food. You can use hand held refractometers to measure brix (should cost about $100, or less). There are folks working on comparaison charts for common food crops, and their brix ratings, but these are still in the works (as far as I know). Perhaps you could show your customers the difference between your food and low quality store bought food.
If you google nutrient density and brix, you should find lots of info on this.
Here's one web page (selling refractometers) with a brief overview:
We just had to take down a dying Alder. It was beside our power pole from the road and has left a big hole in our privacy screen. I'd like to replace it with something that will fill in the space, year round.
We are Zone 8, PNW. I'd like something that won't grow over about 15 feet in height (it is under the power line). Of course, I could just put in some kind of cedar or laurel, but I'd rather find something with other uses (fruit, mulch, fodder, etc...).
Do you have arborist/tree service companies? They usually travel with a wood chipper on a trailer and chip the branches and leaves they are cutting down. If I see one in the neighbourhood I ask if they'd like to dump at my place. You could also try calling them and asking.