Diego de la Vega

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since Feb 15, 2013
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Recent posts by Diego de la Vega

I have a steep slope with a set of brick steps I installed heading to a pergola planted with Hardy kiwi.  I want to plant the edge with something perennial that will serve as a slope stabilizer, beautifier, and pollinator attractant.  It could also produce food and or build soil.

This plant must Not be:
Overly aggressive/invasive
Heavy feeder stripping soil nutrients
Tall shading other plants, or leaning too far into pathway.
Likely to disrupt the path with roots.

Any ideas on things that could grow here and meet the goals I have?  Thanks everyone!

4 years ago

Casie Becker wrote:I have them at the most 24 inches away from the trunk. I made sure the roots of the trees and the shrub were intermingled so that when I cut back the indigo each year the nitrogen from the root die back is right at the tree roots. I think with anything but espalier I would be shading out the indigo with this close spacing. If you look very closely you'll see what looks like a group of sticks stuck into the ground, that's the dormant false indigo bushes after they've been cut back. They're one of the last things to come out of dormancy in my gardens. I may change my pruning time to late spring if I don't see any flowers this year. I think I should actually be pruning right after spring bloom. I think I've been pruning off the developing flowers, good for the plant to establish itself without wasting extra energy on producing seed, but I want flowers now.

There are a total of four peach trees arranged in a Belgian fence, with two and a half feet between each tree. They've been selected to produce the peaches over the course what I hope will eventually be at least three months. That one tree being so many weeks ahead of the others is a good start.

Thanks for the photos! They are very helpful.  I see what you mean about shading.  I have never tried to grow them before, but I have read that they require a lot of sun.  Perhaps I could plant them a bit closer than I had thought originally and just plan for succession as they get shaded out by the maturing fruit trees.  Thanks again!

4 years ago

Casie Becker wrote:I grow mine next to espalier, which have very different requirements on things like spacing and light needs. But I will say that as a plant it has a very upright growth habit. Lower plants can grow very close to the base without being shaded out in my climate.  I the whole plant down to about 12 inches after it goes dormant in the fall and it's come back well, so far.

I somewhat accidentally discovered this year how very well lupins work as nitrogen fixers. I was working on a stand of bluebonnets in my front yard. After their strong showing last year, the grass grew so thickly over that corner that hardly any managed to sprout this year. We're actually going to have to actively try to discourage the grass next fall to get the flowers back. Our bluebonnets are annuals lupins, but there are also a lot of perennial varieties. I think you'd have more success with them in Virginia than we do here. They're spring bloomers, too; so the timing might be right to draw pollinators to your fruit trees.

Great idea with the lupine.  How far do you have the espalier trees from the indigobushes?  What type of espalier trees do you have?  Thanks!

4 years ago
I farm in central Virginia.  I am planning on planting the native false indigo bush in my food forest/permaculture orchard as a nitrogen fixer, pest deterrent, and pollinator attractant. Have any of you used this native legum before?  If so how lose do the fruit trees like it to be?  10 feet?  Closer? How often do you chop and drop it and are it's branches fine enough to not smother things in the herbaceous layer Like chives and thyme?

If you have not used false indigo what other nitrogen fixers have worked well?  I am planning on planting it around apples, cherries, peaches, etc.  I want to support the trees in the healthiest way possible to give them the strength to fend off pests and disease.


4 years ago
Here is the update after a hard day's labor:

With the help of my boys, I was able to widen the swale to 2 feet which is enough for a wheel barrow to fit, but not turn around. We filled in the swale with wood chips and used the wood chips we had left to start to cover the bed. We then seeded everything with red clover.
5 years ago
So if Swales are tree growing systems will they be of use in a garden as well? I decided to build a few Swales for my garden terraces, but I am not sure if they will really benefit or just Waterlog my garden.

I dug a swale that will pull some water from the drainage ditch next to my driveway (no traffic, gravel road, water comes from hill above my house). The swale is on contour. I plan to fill the swale with wood chips And use it as an access point/walkway. It probably needs to be wider.

I am also considering digging Swales perpendicular to this one which will be between the garden rows. This will distribute water out to the ends of the terrace from this original swale.

Is this a good idea? Bad idea? What do you guys think? Thanks so much!

5 years ago

paul wheaton wrote:Suppose 20,000 people hear about this place and think they might want to come here.

Suppose all 20,000 start to listen to the first podcast.

I suspect that half will stop after a minute or two.

Half of that will stop a bit further in.

Half of that will make it to the end of the first podcast.

Half of those will choose to go on to the next podcast.

I am now down to 1250 people.

Let's suppose that 100 people make it to the end of the 10th podcast and are still thinking of coming here.

Let's suppose that 20 make it to the end of 100 podcasts and are still thinking of coming here.

Let's suppose that 10 people actually make the attempt.

Of those 10, some people realize that this is not the kind of thing they want to do. Some realize that they don't like me. It turns out that there are some that I don't like. Others it seems like everything is great, but after a few months or years .... not so much.

In the end, there might be one person. Maybe.

Conclusion: It isn't that I need to be somebody that charms ANYBODY/EVERYBODY. I need to be myself and find that 1 person in 20,000 that is a fit. And if I wish to build a community of more than me and one other person, maybe I need to get my stuff into more brains than 20,000 people.

Corollary: When people tell me what I have to do, have to say, have to think .... maybe I should direct them to this thread.

Changing who you are or changing your dream into something "less dreamy" for you is not a good idea since your personal success can only be judged by your own level of happiness and fulfillment in what you do.

Now there is a whole lot of unsolicited advice given online which is mostly put forth by armchair quarterbacks who never have nor never will do anything of note or profound.

HOWEVER, in my life I have sometimes been sure of my path in the beginning and then found that things did not go as well as planned. I have also had the experience that I have been sure of my path and things went rather well. In both of these instances when I heard sound advice and suggestions from others, I have at times received great success from following said advice. This success was of course much better when I was doing poorly and still very helpful when I was doing well. Some people are able to look at a "thing" and see what it could be, and know how to make it that way even if they lack a desire to do so in any hands on sort of way. These people have lots of great ideas all the time. Some people (like me) have occasional strokes of genius interspersed with long episodes of mediocre ideas. Other people still think they have tons of great ideas all the time, but are actually full of bad ideas and can occasionally have a decent one.

Basically what I am trying to say is that what works for me is to listen to the ideas of others. I sort through them and take note of the good ones while discarding the nonsense or even perhaps sound ideas that do not fit with my current goal. Then I constantly reevaluate, asking myself if there is a better way, and if I could be doing it wrong. Sometimes my extremely stubborn nature keeps me doing things wrong for a VERY long time.

5 years ago

paul wheaton wrote:

I love this. That cabin needs a back porch with a screen and it would be perfect. I just realized that this thought could potentially place me in the "type of people" you are trying to get away from category. But, depending on the location and local moisture/standing water, I am totally right on this one ;0).

6 years ago

elle sagenev wrote:So can you trench to get the pooled water moving? Or perhaps dig to make a full on irrigation pond?

If you need to stabilize the slope I'd use something other than your food trees. I saw someone use St. Johns wort and it was so beautiful, and you could harvest some for medicinal use if needed. So you can think outside of the tree box when it comes to soil stabilization. Bushes, non-food trees, etc. Go that route.

Thanks for the reply! I do not think that the water would really need to be trenches or that it would really benefit. That area will be more wet in general than the rest. Also it only pools during a rainstorm then it quickly soaks in. Is the reason you're ask because you think area C is the best place to plant the trees?

6 years ago
I live in a small valley on the foothills in central Virginia. My hardiness zone is 7a, humid temperate, and I am on a fairly steep slope ranching from 17% to 22% grade. I have two large terraces which are about 250 feet long on contour. They are both slightly cut back so that during a rain storm the water has a tendency to pool on the innermost corner, where the water coming down the hill first hits the terrace. The top terrace is 19 feet in width along its entire length and the lower terrace is 27 feet in width. The slope between the two terraces is steep. To the eye it appears to be near 100% grade or 45 degree angle. It is probably a bit less, but that is what it looks like.

Where do I plant my fruit trees?
-If I plant them near the edge of the terraces (A), the roots will help stabilize the slope, but they are also susceptible to erosion and falling over. Also I would have a hard time harvesting fruit on the side where the slope is steep. Would this area be too dry?
-if I plant them near the uphill side of the terrace (C), they may have problems with collar rot or wet feet from excess water in that area.
-If they are planted in the middle of the terrace (B), it limits movement on the terrace, removes any chance of a grazing area for animals in the future, but will likely both solve water issues and make it easier to harvest.

I will be planting:
Blue berry
And many more

Thanks so much for any advice or experience you can offer.
6 years ago