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ideas for new plot in SE Wyo cold desert

 
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Hi!
   I've been floating all over the internet getting both excited and confused. I have 45ish acres in SE wyoming that is currently overgrazed grassland. I'm at 7800 feet and we have tons of great sun, poor nutrients in the soil, raging wind and light moisture that currently just goes away because there is nothing to really hold it. I would just love to have a Forrest (be it scrub oak, aspen or anything) and some natural habitat for all of the critters. I've read about the Mayawaki Forrest method with great interest but it seems that the one thing they all share is moisture.
   Anyway, I'd very much like to devote the time and effort into rehabbing my land. for now just to a nice nature, for later something to grow food and such. Has anyone had success truly planting a sustainable forest on your very dry land? We ultimately can do some supplemental watering, especially for a couple years to start things off, but wells in my area are deep and expensive and tend to yield very soft water. I'm probably looking at hauled water and rainwater collection for starters.
   Where to start? What else should I be reading that's more specific to my climate?
 
gardener
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Location: Monticello Florida zone 8a
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Have you looked into making berms to block wind?
 
Mark Mstevens
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Huxley Harter wrote:Have you looked into making berms to block wind?



yes. currently experimenting with a couple of things. a zig-zag log snow/wind fence seems to help hold a lot more snow in winter and provides some ground-level windbreak. really just doing basic couple log high "beaver dams" and trying to add some texture to capture snow and let it melt instead of blow away.

as for earthen berms, I'm concerned about disturbing the ground. the soil is very fine and it seems to take any disturbed area a long long time to grow anything while the dirt mostly blows away. I'm currently hoping to experiment on a small area with a layer of compost, then mulch then erosion blankets. when we built our barn I put down a layer of compost and an extra thick layer of mulch specifically advertised as good for wind...my best guess is that it's all in Nebraska now because it's sure not on my land :(
 
pollinator
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Mark Welcome to permies! Are you anywhere near Laramie? They have a great composting program at their dump and give truckloads away for free sometimes. Is your land really flat or do you have any roll to it? How about drainage? What happens to the water after a good rain?
 
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Location: 7b desert southern Idaho
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I've got no help, just a similar cold desert. I'm about 5000 ft. Trees without water, 8 inches a year, would be great. I'm trying to sprout pinion pine, and Netleaf Hackberry. I'd like to try Mountain mahogany, and juniper. These are native that might take if I can get the seeds to sprout.

I have also buried some rotted wood and left a sunken area to garden I'm hoping to get a tree to survive hoping the rotted wood can store winter moisture.

I'm also trying gooseberry, service berry and choke cherry as a native understory.

Another project is bigseed bisquit root, another native.  I'm hoping I can use these to add a deep organic component to hardtac and sand. Similar to how they use daikon radish for soil improvement. It will just take years rather than months.
 
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