John Elliott

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since May 08, 2013
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Recent posts by John Elliott

Anthony Minot wrote:
Would It do to plant on, or around then inwards for the vicinity of the invasion? A fresh layer of soil with mixed in germinated oregano seeds should do good if they are as effective as that I would think.

Germinated oregano seeds is not going to cut it.  I should expand on my previous comment by saying that I have oregano patches that are going on 7 years old.  They all started from a couple of 3" pots I got from the markdown rack at the nursery.  It doesn't spread much each year, but it is tenuous.  If you want to get good coverage (it makes an excellent ground cover, even out-competing centipede and bermuda grasses), you need to get some healthy plants in 3" pots and space them maybe every 8-12" and let them fill in.  It takes quite a while, maybe 3-4 months for oregano seed sown in a 3" pot to be ready to set out, so this is one occasion where going to the nursery will cut down on your frustration level.  

Once it is established, you can run over it regularly with the lawn mower, and it will still be spreading and evicting grass plants.  Fortunately, it spreads so slowly that I haven't had to get serious about cutting it back.  And if you do, you can always just dry it and shake it on your pizza.
6 years ago
No big equipment.  Leave that to the overgrown 4-year olds who like to go "VROOM-VROOM!" and splash lots of mud around.  What you want to do is build a chinampa out of the whole place by crushing and mashing down the vegetation that is in place.  If you can slash and burn, do that.  If the local authorities won't let you burn, then just slash and let it rot down.  Are there tree trimming services in your area?  Tell them you have a place they can dump their trucks, and they will be happy to come and pile up 3-4' of biomass.

So what do you do when you have a pile that is 3' higher than the streets on 3 sides? Take a bag of topsoil, spread it to about 2" thick, and plant vines that will take off and ramble into it:  Seminole pumpkin, Lagenaria type gourds, watermelons, anything that people complain about it taking over their garden.  

Another thing you could do is to plant swamp trees along the property lines to help stabilize the soil.  The two best types for this are water tupelo, and my favorite, bald cypress.  Willow is also a good tree to consider.  It is a good biomass generator, and it will transpire a lot of water out of the soil and up into the air.

It may be too cold where you are for citrus.  Zone 9 is iffy, because if you get a couple of 25 degree nights, that can do major damage to the citrus that will take a long time to recover from.  Look for the more cold hardy citrus varieties like kumquats and mandarins.  Loquat should do great there, it will fruit as long as it doesn't have to put up with too many <25 degree nights.

Blueberries like a good bit of shade, so you can plant them under trees that you want to keep. All the others that you mentioned are reasonable to try.  Don't be afraid to experiment, to put something in, and then to rip it out if it is disappointing.  Soon you will hit upon what works well.
6 years ago
Oregano.  I have blackberries that come up anywhere and everywhere EXCEPT in the oregano patch.  Oregano is more well-behaved, it's not going to pop up 20 feet away like a blackberry, but it does spread (slowly).
6 years ago
Animals are the answer -- Johnson grass is a great forage.   Wait until it is about to the flowering stage, and right after a heavy rain get out there and yank it up by the roots.  If you are at all worried about the nitrogen level (and with it the cyanides), chop it up and ensile it for a few days.  Lactobacillus fermentation will make short work of the cyanides.
6 years ago

Jon Snow wrote:I want to plant some trees in the high desert, Johnson Valley 20 miles north of Joshua Tree. I know its tough to get them started here.

It's easy to get palo verdes started, just give the seeds a good once-a-week soaking, like the equivalent of a 1" rain.  In fact, that is a good strategy for most desert plants, as they use heavy summer downpours to get jump started.  Since those types of summer rains are infrequent, seeds have to remain dormant for a long time, and they do.  I have gotten samples of seeds that are 20 years old, and using the 1"-a-week method, they come right up.  

What is your elevation there?  Probably too high for desert ironwood, but palo verde should do just fine.  Once it's set a good taproot, it will be very drought tolerant.
6 years ago

Marco Banks wrote:  That's just how things are.  

Marco is right, cilantro is the quintessential weed: it comes up where it wants, lives its short life, and then bolts to spread some seed.  You need to adapt to it, not the other way around.  I have found that by deliberately scattering it all throughout the year, there is always something green at the right stage to clip, except for maybe in the hottest days of the summer (July & August).  
6 years ago
I'm a beacon in my local area, but I'm afraid not many people are listening in on my frequency.  To be a permie is to be an oddball, to march to the beat of a different drummer.  People will start listening when they can see that it works out better than what they are doing now.  Every time you get a repeat customer who comments "hey, this really tastes good; this is better than what you get in the store" you have an opportunity to make another permie convert.  Then they will listen to other permie ideas.

Keep on keeping on.....

You have to make a distinction between low desert (very infrequent frosts) and high desert (frequent hard freezes and regular snows).   Pinon pine, juniper, and Joshua trees are all high desert adapted.  For low desert drought tolerance, you have to look at mesquite, then palo verde, then ironwood (Olneya tesuta) in order of drought tolerance.  You could also add in smoke tree (Psorothamnus spinosus).  None of these are as drought tolerant as creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), if you are willing to stretch your definition of "tree" a little.

In the driest parts of the Colorado Desert (Yuma northwest to 29Palms and up to Death Valley), smoke tree and palo verde are confined to  washes, mesquite is largely absent (it really can't take <3" of annual rain and still compete), ironwood can venture a little further out of the wash (and is the least cold tolerant of the bunch), but creosote bush abounds everywhere you look.
6 years ago
You could try pigeon peas.  They grow to 2m+ in one season, so are not going to be smothered out by tall sorghum.

I have grown both, but have not intercropped them, which is what I plan on doing this year.  When I had them as pure stands, they had a lot of pest pressure, so maybe by intercropping them and adding some pest deterrent plants in with them, I can conquer the bugs.
6 years ago