Shingle Springs - cool - I did nearly all of the structural steel above you at Missouri Flats new shopping center a few years back.
It is my belief that most of the trees we plant around the homestead and provide water for should be fruit trees rather than ornamental, and being California, nearly anything you plant will grow if provided the proper soil and water.
The gold country is pretty similar along the Mother Lode with the lower areas of it being pretty heavily influenced by heating from the valley. As cooler air flows from the mountains in the evening (heavier) it displaces the warm air from the valley and it comes up to us at night. I find that the frosts are just hard enough that it is a bit hard to do well here with citrus. We have a lemon, and a lime but freezes and snow are a bit much for them. Not dead yet though.
What we do have... all trees (about 35 of them now with 20 new ones this year) are less than 5 years old with most being planted one to two years. Apricots - eating lots of them - peaches - producing first and second crops - pluot - 4 varieties - doing great- various plums - doing well - many types of apples - just getting first few apples - cherries - birds got the few there - 4 walnut trees this year - look OK - multiple plums on one tree - looking well -
Looks like most types of fruit trees will do well here and especially they like to be on berms rather than down in the clay. A hole in the clay with a tree in it becomes a bathtub full of water drowning the roots in the winter. Planting on berms on the hill side prevents water damavge to the roots and provides a flow of air in the winter preventing a lot of frost damage.
As you can see in the pix of my dog and berms in the winter, flow down the hill was not a problem with the berms there although there will be the occasional over run. I follow the contour of the ground to make the berms horizontal on the mountainside with only a slight slope in the direction I want water to flow. I put checks in the road to hold water in it to allow soaking in rather than running off. The grasses reached over 4 feet on the berms this year. We have only 6 inches to a couple of feet of what I consider top soil above the hard porphyry clay that is common along the mother lode. The porphyry will hold water for weeks if a hole is dug in it.
I took the top soil from the road area and piled it onto the tree berm to make more good soil for the trees. This captures the runoff and forces it to soak into the berm area. Grasses stabilize the berms in the fall then in the spring I clean the road and widen the berms between the trees. This fall the native grasses will again grow on the berms in abundance. I don't seed them but they are well covered each fall with grass. Try to have the berms done before the first rains.
Note that neighbors are not a problem here but could be the source of complaints in higher population density areas. There are grading exemptions from most codes for farming, fire breaks, water source access roads - existing roads and fence line access. This terrace system is for fire safety (ease of making a fire break), farming and fence line access as well as access to a spring at the bottom of our property appx 1/4 mile away. We have 20 acres on this piece and go well down both sides of the ridge.
Keep in mind that you may want to have rain water storage ponds also.
Try to become familiar with your soil - does it really wash away or does it make a decent terrace and stay put. I thought washing might be a problem but it does not seem to be. Try to make sure that you contain runoff on your property. I read a story about a Chinese fellow that did the same as me. He said that water at the bottom of the hill is not a problem if you first take care of it at the top. He converted a dry area such as ours into a wetland with terraces, berms and swales etc. He had to prove to the government he did it to keep from getting fined for farming a wetland.
Wish I could find that story now. He had been imprisoned and when released he was sent to a piece of worthless land. Over about 20 years his methods completely changed the land and made it useful and lush.
I would start at the top using the water there then work my way down to prevent problems. Start small then enlarge it as you can handle it each year.
Thanks, Dianne. I'm happy to be able to post something that is of interest.
Forgot to mention that the trees in this pix to the right of the Bobcat are pomegranate w/first fruit this year - there are 2, two year old ones and one one year old. The tree in other pix before them is a peach - second year and loaded - knocked a few peaches off with one of the long logs - thinning I guess.
Backing up a little, in planning the bed, I decided to make it a little bigger while I had the opportunity. It was originally around 10 feet wide and I went to about 12. That necessitated removing a large landscaping rock and taking it to the front yard. Here it is barely visible in my before pix so I circled it to show where it is.
Now you can see the peach tree in this pix - the pomegranates are behind it in a row.
Here is the rock going away in the Bobcat. Roughly 6000 lbs as the Bobcat would tip onto the front of the tracks as I was leaning down hill - 6000 is tipping capacity of the Bobcat - the point at which it begins to roll over forward. No worries most of the time - if you are not facing down a steep hill - the bucket will hit the ground before you end over end it.
Ludi, don't forget that the guy with the big tools has the big bills to keep it running too.
Actually I kind of rushed this project because I wanted to get it done and the Bobcat has a pretty serious oil leak that I am having a very hard time finding. The clay here stops the migration of the oil until the soil bacteria - especially in manures - breaks it down. A friend of mine re-mediated a diesel spill with horse manure to where the county inspectors could not find a trace of pollution and allowed him to re-bury it.
i posted in the woodland forum about this but it reminded me of my son's adventures this weekend..we had a lot of pond muck piles in the edge of our woods but they were blocking access to our woods. So for the last two days Joel was using our tractor bucket like a bulldozer and knocking down saplings and brush and dead trees..and burying them under pond muck ..making roads and clearings in our woods..through the piles of pond muck..and between the good trees..trying not to damage anything good and healthy.
it was so fun watching him..
he isn't finished yet..but he took some very huge piles of pond muck and has spread them now over a bunch of rotting aspen and wild cherry trees as well as buried in there is a lot of green brush..
that all should rot really nicely under there..and the pond muck was full of good stuff too..and it should make some really great soil..some of it will be left to roads..and a small clearing..that i'll plant the perimeter of with wildlife /human food plants..like berries and fruits..but there is a good amount of it that got pushed between the large trees that were left and that will provide great planting areas for shrubs and understory trees.
the main trees that were left in this area are 2 large red maples, several 6 to 8 inch across trunk size wild cherries and a lot of aspens..many still dead or dying..and some small white ash trees..and to the east is an alder swamp.. i have 3 walnuts to the south spaced about 30' apart..and there is a clearing north of the walnuts that is a firearms shooting range with a tall deep dirt bank o shield the woods from stray bullets.
Bloom where you are planted.
That should be a great place to grow. I find all of the berms I have created grow things much better than the way they were originally. Plant roots need air too so the broken soil and decaying vegetation buried really improve things. I also find that terracing activity around existing trees such as our oaks greatly accelerates their growth rather than damaging them for the most part. There are exceptions but for the most part they grow larger faster. 8 years experience with this observation.
I found out about the need for air to the roots when doing NFT hydroponics.
i'm very interested to see if that is true that the tree growth will be accelerated..that would be so nice..esp with the baby walnut trees as they are so tiny.
i do know that the soil here is tremendously fertile..but it might be a while before i can get much planted in it..as every time i plant things Joel decides to play with the tractor ..i ended up pulling up a pine tree i had put in the woods as he was going to run over it..so it got moved to a new place..
our little tractor is a lot smaller than the one you were using..but boy it sure has been a blessing. he also has a back blade for it and a few other gadgets..it was the best investment besides our land and house that we have made.
our woods goes back 900 feet and is about 200 feet wide..not huge but there are just us old folks and our son..so it doesn't have to be huge..the area that he is working on is fairly young..and then there s a tall grassy area north of that and then more woods..it is a bit swampyish in some areas and there is an underground creek in some areas..so we have to be careful how we move through it..to the east of the area he is workinig is an alder swamp, and then a drainage ditch..and then a large field that we have been putting to forest, which now is dotted with fairly large pine and alder trees.. our goal is to welcome more and more wildlife but also provide human food
Bloom where you are planted.
Accelerated growth may not be as noticeable there. Here it makes a big difference when you change the terrain.
Our mountain here is clay and rock. Before making flat spots the hard ground would shed most of the rain. After breaking the clay up and making a terrace apparently there is so much more available moisture that the Oak trees and grasses increase in growth greatly rather than getting root damage as I had been told they might. I found that even removing as much as 1/3 of the dirt from around the roots when making a road cut seldom damaged the tree.
I find that it is near impossible to manage and improve a large piece of property without equipment that is up to the challenge. Not necessarily new but useful anyway.
Little to nearly no available nutrients in the soil here per the test but we are slowly changing that one area at a time.
I believe that concentrating on growing more human food is going to be needed much more in the near future. Corporate farms have bought legislation to put the little farms out of business and if they have a problem, or simply get a stranglehold on the market, food prices will skyrocket or it may not be available.
The sooner we quit relying on them the better, but we need to continue to teach our friends the importance of gardening as we improve our skills also.
I continued bringing logs from the mill area decks down to the hugelkultur bed with the Bobcat, and arranging them, squishing them around and smashing them the best I could until the bed was pretty well filled. Some of the logs were around 30 inches in diameter but nearly all of them were well on their way to being half rotted.
Bull pines around here are a smaller extremely tough non commercial pine and I use them for lumber or beams when I can, but if they sit too long before I find a use for them they become tough enough to dull the saw. In a couple years if not cut they will then get well rotted. You can see a standing one down the hill in front of the Bobcat. If cut into lumber and cared for they will last a hundred or more years like other wood.
This is a great use for them and I would not have found out about it without Paul's video. Thanks again, Paul.
Here the hole is nearly completely filled. With the Bobcat giving me a bit of a hint that it wanted more oil I decided that this was about enough. Time to get the soil back in place.
I had previously reached up on the bank and salvaged the topsoil from there as well as doing Bobcat slip-n-slide on the side hill trying to get as much of the good top soil as I could.
We are on a Greenstone (meta-andesite) ridge and there are multiple dikes running in different directions poking up through the clay.
To the end and left side of the hugelkultur bed is a very substantial dike making this the end of the road for this bed and a great place for a garden . That is why the big landscape rock I removed was there. Our soil averages from 20 to 30 percent rocks in clay so we either work them out of the soil or avoid them.
Here is an older pix of my small garden terrace just below this bed -(note the pomegranates visible above) - about 15 to 20 feet below the pomegranates and peach tree. I added a bit of wood chips, straw and alpaca manure to the soil along with a bit of old composted horse manure and some fertilizer. It still needs water often. That is why I found the hugelkultur so interesting.
Glenn the beds look wonderful..you are probably right..we live on flat land with a high water table and no rock, great fertiliity..where you live on sloped land..so yeah there is a huge difference.
i definately don't need terrances..however..burying the brush and logs under the pond muck did raise the soil in that area probably 2 or 3 feet..but the land does slope away to the North anyway..but only slightly..so it is wetter to the north in the rear part of our woods, with a underground creek in some areas, you can hear it running, probably springs too..it will take some care in opening it up without damaging the creek and drainage and soil and trees..but it will be worth it to be able to access it.
Bloom where you are planted.
I have some new pix of the garden terrace. The rocks for the wall came right out of the garden and the terrace a few feet below.
This was a small terrace and I did the work mostly with the new rototiller and by hand, to level the terrace and work the straw (weed-eated natural and added) as well as a scoop of mill waste and a couple scoops of alpaca manure. We had very heavy natural grass here this year so I worked it in too. It had to be broken in size with the weed eater to keep from clogging the tiller.
The space was too small and steep to get the Bobcat into but it was a very nice space between the two tree terraces. One tree terrace is roughly 160 feet long and the lower one is roughly 320 feet long. This garden terrace is roughly 8' x 45'
Glen, Thanks for sharing all of this information, it's really helped my thinking about what to do about my place here. It's like you are reading my mind the past few days. I read your original reply to my post and it was so obvious to begin working at the top since water flows downhill. I was going to put my first swale in at the bottom . . .I was tied to the idea of the fence being the end of the property and so that is where I start to save my water . . . funny how we think that way. So you saved me some trial and error probably there. Then I start thinking about the terracing around the oaks and I immediately began thinking about staying out of the dripline to avoid rotting their roots. So I log on today and see that you have posted about that. I scroll down and see your garden and think, "yeah but how does he keep the deer out of there" (they defoliated my pomegranate tree earlier this spring). Then I scroll down a bit more and see that you have a post about that too. So thanks . . .it's like an online tutorial! I burned some of my stuff this year, but also saved a bunch after I began reading about hugelkulture . I have enough for a fairly large bed now and am looking for the best place to locate. I think that I have a spot. I took a picture, but my two year old daughter has worked her chaos upon my digital camera cord, so; I'll have to post that later. Are the pine trees you are talking about also known as "digger" pines, or are you talking about another species?
Glenn - nice pics and video. Thanks for sharing the info on the construction of your hugel beds and the deer fence.
How high is the deer fence? Looks like around 5'? I like the string idea. Somewhere else on the forum, someone mentioned that adding in some extra sticks or flags along a fence to bring the height up was enough to discourage deer even without a solid barrier.
We'll be working in a lot of hugel beds into our new place up in southwestern OR. Lot of the similar climate issues that you have mentioned, we're just a fair bit cooler. A couple of other tree fruit varieties that I am hopeful will do well here are figs, jujubes and olives. All are very drought tolerant once established and the hugel beds may be a big help in those first critical years. Asian persimmons may be worth a try as well as I have seen them do well in a wide variety of soils and during dry summers.
For berry bushes, the named varieties of goumi and autumn olive fit well in the picture with poor soil to start and dry summers.
I may have to look in to renting a bobcat to make the work go faster It would be nice to get the benefit of the machine and have someone else enjoy the maintenance!
"Limitation is the mother of good management", Michael Evanari
Location: Southwestern Oregon (Jackson County), Zone 7
ive read post by a fella that says he uses 1 strand of fishing line to go around his entire garden as a deer fence. i dont remember exactly how high he said it was. i have never had to contend with deer but he swears by it. apparently the deer run into the fishing line but they cant see it... since they cant see it they dont know they can jump over it... or at least thats his reasoning behind it.
The pine is the same species although the Digger Pine name was directed as a bit of a slur toward the native Americans here (by the White Eyes) who used to eat the seeds as well as make necklaces from them and other things. Bull Pine is another name for them. Also Gray Pine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_Pine
Southeast farmer, the fence is about 5 or so feet high but it is on top of a 2 foot cut so to a deer it would hopefully look around 7 feet. I was considering extending the posts with wood sticks and more string lines if needed but haven't had a problem yet. I also read and have heard that you can put another low string a few feet in front of the low fence to really mess them up. They lose their springing area so apparently will not try.
The reason for the second terrace was that I put a cattle fence below and that was going to be my last area of land I claimed from the cows to keep with the cabin area. I only have 3 steers so I'm not much of a cowboy. Don't even have them home yet. I made the terrace to see how it would work out then put the cow fence a bit below it where it worked well. Since the terrace was now there I decided this year was the time to plant the fruit trees and get them growing.
I went with the string last year as I was not sure where the cow fence was going. This year I wanted a fence around the garden so it was string again. Wire fence is a lot of work and expensive. Deer netting fence is expensive. No climb fence is expensive. All permanent fences are a lot of work to take down if plans change .String seems to work just fine and it's reasonably cheap. I think bailer twine would be best as it will not likely rot in the sun from UV as fast. About a mile on a roll too as I recall.
I want to get olives here - maybe get a start from our tree in the valley. There are persimmons and olives near here in colder areas so I am sure they will do well here though I don't have them yet.
Talked to my renter/neighbor who said his dad did hugelkultur in Sweethome, OR. He learned it years ago from a possibly Mennonite neighbor he did some logging for. They saved the old trees to bury in the beds.
Stalk_of_fennel, the man at the lumberyard mentioned fishing line - string or anything for the deer. He said they didn't like things touching their ears or the wiggling strings - they didn't trust things that were unstable - a bit paranoid I guess.
The deer ate about a third of our garden in a few hours when we were gone a couple years ago. Since then we have had a 7 foot deer fence around the cabin garden.
Things to keep i mind about the Bobcat are that wheel varieties are kind of unstable sideways. Mine has widened wheels for the tracks and that makes it much more stable but it is still a possibility of tipping it over. They are great if you have a safe area to use them in. I don't know about the rubber tracked variety. The rocks here would eat $5000 worth of tracks in six months or so. On rental they would be OK. Note that I am about half crazy also and tipping over is not as great a scare as it should be - wear your seat belt to keep from getting thrown from the rig and smashed.
I am originally from Rose Lodge, Or. Family homesteaded there and still own land as well as live near there (Lincoln City).
Glad I could be of assistance - I like to share what I know as well as learn from the rest of you.
I'm also admin on Countryplans where Paul was good enough to share his Hugelkultur video as well as others.
Wow Glenn! your posts are awesome, maybe you should star your own thread in the general homesteading category or something & call it "Glenn's School Of Cheapness" because I would love to hear all the neat tips & tricks you have to share! I have told the folks in the thread "keeping deer out of my stuff" to check it out.
Thanks also to everyone who has made this thread so fun & educational!
Thanks, Dianne. I get time to do things like this between work breaks as I am a contractor and work is a bit sporadic. I do try to follow through and get the story completed eventually though. I put a bit of extra effort into it if I can present a subject so that it will help others to learn a process or a few new ideas. I generally find that others are then willing to share their ideas and help me too.
Here are a few shots of the completed hugelkultur bed from different viewpoints so you can get a better idea of how it looks.
From the Driveway about 15 feet elevation above
From the terrace looking east over the bed
From the West end of the bed looking down the rest of the terrace - roughly 11 trees and 3 pomegranates on this terrace and it runs fairly east-west along the side of the mountain. Drainage is such that about half of the water will go west for the last half of the trees and half will come this way toward the hugelkultur bed. This winter that should store a lot of rainwater that will be of use by the plants rather than runoff down the mountain. All runoff from activities on my property are captured in the grass on the hillside. A quarter mile or so down the mountain it is a bit of a bowl toward my spring so there is never any runoff to bother the neighbors below. Actually runoff does not make it past a few feet below the terrace in the worst spots.
Total elapsed time to build the hugelkultur bed was about 4 hours. The bed is now about a foot above the original ground level with the soil filled in over and between the logs. That makes it about 3 1/2 feet above the bottom of the excavated area to the top of the new soil level. That will of course subside as the logs decay.
While doing your projects it is important to keep the neighbors in mind. Keeping happy neighbors keeps you out of site and out of mind. Working to build alliances with the neighbors keeps complaints about your activities from being generated, provides security when you are away and a group that can stick together and help each other out when times get tight.
I find good friends to be more important in the country where big brother is not around as much and we need to learn to do things for ourselves. What will the cities do if big brother ever goes missing or can no longer meet their needs? We are miles ahead of them as we learn more and more to take care of ourselves. Hugelkultur is a part of that.
It took longer to write the story than to build the bed, but it was fun and hopefully helpful. Now off to some other project.
i'm looking forward to seeing yours (and my) beds next year..after all the work as been done, planted and growing..
mine still need a whole lot of work before i'm at a planting stage as my son does the tractor work and he has very little TIME..generally working as much as over 72 hours a week..i'm lucky when he wants to play on the tractor..and heads my way.
i hope to rent a backhoe over the labor day weekend and get my pond dug deeper and enlarged..and some of that soil will go into covering more down trees and paths into my woods..good pond muck
Bloom where you are planted.
Glenn Kangiser wrote:What will the cities do if big brother ever goes missing or can no longer meet their needs?
Most big cities have neighborhoods that big brother does not serve, and never has. Those tend to be the sorts of neighborhood I can afford to live in, anway, but I also feel they are more collapse-proof: people here have figured out how to handle not only a lack of support, but vigorous and sustained interference.
I'm more worried about suburbs, and subsidy-dependent farms.
Back on topic:
If I get a little more space to garden in, there is a huge source of free firewood in town that perennially advertises on Craigslist (to avoid tipping fees, I guess). I bet there are some really rotten pieces of wood available from that source.
"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men. They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
My machine? --- yup - I use big brothers services while he is still working then I have enough diesel left to keep me going another year or so. Even gaining a bit of an extra jump could be an advantage, but I hope to be independent and self sustaining enough that if his services go away or if they become too expensive, I will still have a bit of a head start and able to continue on without him. I am totally off grid making all of my own electricity, have my own well and year round spring for backup.
Note that the cities only have about 3 days worth of food stocked in the stores. I help build them. They are no longer stores, but instead, terminals for truck unloading, so anything we can do to help ourselves is to our advantage.
Hugelkultur, even in the city islands is an advantage although water could be a problem.
We have wandered off topic, but I suspect that in a SHTF situation you would very rapidly find you had many mouths to feed arriving in your area, especially if it is an area with a reputation for producing food and having water. LA is going to be barren and dry with in a week of the waterworks breaking down.
I find that off topic once in a while is great for bringing up thoughts ...
Things you may think about that you may not otherwise.... It actually leads us right back to the topic and the reason we should be thinking about such things as hugelkultur and raising our own food or increasing our capabilities of taking care of ourselves and friends... of making alliances with like minded individuals.
California will be rough in case of problems - any burp in the system could bring it down. The three day supply of food in the stores could be gone in one in the case of panic buying.
A SHTF situation will likely not happen but being more prepared for it will lessen the chances of being caught with your pants down.
I would think you have plenty of water, so some dry goods - long term storage could be good. It could alleviate the immediate problem and give time for clear thinking on future plans. Might even give you time to get to my place. We could garden together...
We have put away some long term storage Items - 30 year canned grain - rice - etc we get through some Mormon friends. Yeah -we can't feed the world but it may help gain time to get more of the self sufficiency things going.
We will go from having things trucked in to possibly not having that ability.. then it is instantly... we take care of our own. An easier transition if we are already preparing to take care of ourselves. Big brother will have bigger problems.. look at his powerlessness to stop Katrina or even the current BP well from killing the gulf.
Our area is really a rough area - think Afghanistan and you are about like our area. Hugelkultur and other self sustaining aids could become crucial to our survival. That is why it is important to make decisions regarding supporting ourselves now while we still can. Not looking will not protect us from events that are out of our control.
We are in a decent food growing area - on a mountain out of the deep cold in the valleys even 1/2 mile away - you can see them in the above pix if you check the background. They get 20 degrees colder than us - we can grow a winter garden here but water is a bit scarce so conservation with hugelkultur will be a big benefit.
Hugelkultur is just another tool to increasing our self reliance.
Nothing may ever happen...but then again.. who really knows?
The prepared ones will be more ready for anything in life - even losing a job.
That could be possible. I have never agreed with their right to take the entire states water and what they don't get SF does.... but they did send their scouts out to snag it first.
Most of the areas they get the water from are pretty remote even down here but people could move there. The real problems will be the ones that never thought it could happen and have no gardening or hugelkultur skills.
I think people like Joel are the exception rather than the rule.
I think it could work in it's own little way, Dianne.
Wood doesn't care where it is so it would hold the moisture. It may be that you would want to add nitrogen in one way or another as the carbon in the wood will want some of it. You may also want to put the pot rather full considering that the wood will rot down a good bit.
Nothing like a good bit of hands on experimenting to find out I guess.
Possibly starting with some decently rotted would could be a benefit in the case of a pot.