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Kim Goodwin

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since Jan 27, 2014
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Native of Oregon, love the forests, now staying warm and dry in the desert.
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4200 ft elevation, zone 8a desert, high of 118F, lows in teens
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Recent posts by Kim Goodwin

Vines all the way. Like Thekla said above, the usefulness and climate modification is also prime for me.

One of my favorite posts (and gardens) on Permies is Leigh Martin's Sky Gardens and Chicken Orchards:

That is such an inspiration to me!

I live in the mid-elevation desert SW and we get 70mph winds here at times. I've seen that once, and 50 mph winds lots of times now. "Normal" spring winds are *only* in the 35 mph gust range!

Vertical gardening makes it all work, though we have to use strong trellises.

We have vines up all over for windbreaks and shade creation - microclimate creation. Everything from perennials including blackberries, grapes, evergreen passionflower and deciduous passion fruit, and trumpet vine to annuals like cowpea, lablab, and of course melons and other circurbits decorate our trellised gardens and the general fencelines.

Online I also love the gardening style of  AsianGarden2Table and their videos on YouTube.  I learned a lot from their videos about how to build affordable, hurricane-sturdy trellising.  They came up with a system of a metal conduit frame to which they attach sturdy twine. Then they grow more than half of of the plants they sell up the twine trellising! It's impressive. They even grow sweet potatoes vertically.

At the end of the season, they cut the vines and twine down with a hedge trimmer, and compost everything twine and all.

Other gardeners' vertical techniques inspired me to go vertical, which has about doubled my production area, as well. Probably tripled now that I think about it. Because I also layer vines. Learned that from a Geoff Lawton video of Zaytuna Farm.  If the trellis is sturdy enough, you can put many types of plants on it. I have one trellis now with overlapping grapes, runner beans, passionflower and then various, changing annual vines.

Meanwhile, here's a happy trellis year in my garden, from a couple years ago...
2 months ago
This is such a great question and I spent the good part of the last twenty years figuring out my answer.  Turns out it came down to privacy, autonomy, dogs and nudity for me.

Back in rural Oregon, originally, I was very curious about and interested in community living even though I also loved having my own land.  Then an intentional community moved in right next to me.  The people who run it are still dear friends.  We adore them, have met so many wonderful people in the process of knowing them, and I value their community mission - I even fully aligned with it.  But in the process of living next door to an intentional community, I learned that I have an extremely high need for privacy, like having my own animals and being the sole one who chooses their method of care, I want to be in charge of all gardening decisions, I don't like to have to wear clothes all the time, and I absolutely hate to be surprised.  

Those needs of mine finally made me recognize that what I want out of community living is the perceived unity of purpose, but I wouldn't be able to handle all the interaction, give up control, work together with anyone other than my husband (and that's hard enough sometimes), and I NEED privacy.

Now my husband and I live in this unusual rural area in the SE Arizona.  It's about 2.5-3 hours in any direction from the nearest cities.  This distance and isolation has had an interesting effect.  Over the years, this town has spontaneously organized it's own support system and entertainment.

The town (under 500 people spread over about a 30 mile diameter) has two email groups for informing people of community events, another email group for sharing and bartering goods and services, a volunteer fire department, a post office and internet available.  People start all sorts of groups here from clubs (hiking, tennis, writing, gardening, crafting clubs) to talent shows and dances, to the volunteer fire department. Decent small bands come out and play regularly.  Someone started an Azure Standard drop out here years ago (which was so great - saved me from doing it myself).  And people get together in all sorts of friend groups.  If we wanted to hang out with friends every week, we could easily do that (but nooooooo)... many people here have bigger social lives than I would ever have imagined.  This is all an effect of the isolation that was once much more so here (both pre-internet, plus cell service only came here about 7 years ago.  Internet was first.).

So I ended up finding a community in a non-intentional community.  It's not a permaculture community, but I have some permaculture friends out here and we are each working on our own projects while cheering each other on and sometimes helping one another.  We also have five sets of friends here who are building (or finished building) their homes.  We've helped on some of their builds, they've helped on ours.  We've helped with off-grid builds, a modified earthship, putting up a yurt, and others have helped with our alternative build-in-progress, too.

I know this is special.  I know this doesn't exist everywhere - it certainly didn't back in my home community in rural Oregon.  I do wonder if there is a renaissance going on country wide, though, as least among the work-from-home set.  I still subscribe to Communities Magazine and look forward to reading the articles out loud to my husband each time it arrives.  And I hope more people who are right for community will continue to build and design intentional communities with shared purposes, love and support, awesomely clear governance setups, building wonderful things together.  It turned out it's not for me in the intentional community sense, but it works in the un-intentional one.
2 months ago
I grew up at a property with solid clay at the edge of a bog. That was where I first learned to garden. It took years and years to make topsoil, but it happened finally.  I learned a great deal in the process, including things I wouldn't want to repeat.  

My main thing I never want to repeat is using ruminant manure on virgin ground.  The reason is that virgin ground usually has few "weed" seeds (weeds meaning particularly challenging plants like quack grass), and ruminant manure tends to introduce those plants in spades.

Then my husband and I moved to the desert SW. The first property had almost pure sand. I learned a lot there, starting with the cool discovery that hugels still work in sand.

Then we moved to a different location in the arid SW.  It's been so surprising to see how different soil can be from one property to the next. We have friends on solid clay, others on almost solid rock, others on solid caliche, and we have two properties with totally different soils!

One has an alluvial round rock silty soil that has about 10" of rocky topsoil and then is 90% rock beneath that. The rocks are from boulder size, done to large gravel, but most are fist-sized. The topsoil at this property feels like flour.

The house we live at currently and are developing the property using permaculture- this is also where all my garden posts from 2020 to now come from- that soil is very sandy, a little bit of silt, and a tiny bit of clay.

That mix above makes an almost perfect adobe brick, which is what this soil feels like dry.  You can't stick a survey flag in the ground far enough to hold!

Fortunately when it's wet, it becomes malleable and dig-able.

We decided to use the zai pit method, modified like a desert hugel.  We dug deep beds, filled them with all the plant matter that we could find on the property plus kitchen scraps, then topped off with the plain dirt. We made these beds sunken so they collect water.

It's a lot of work initially, but has had a great payoff.  These beds were used for annual crops to help build soil and make fast food in the first year, and since have been transitioned to a full poly culture of perennials, reseeding annuals, and then interplanted high value annuals (like tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and cukes).

Most people who came out here and saw what we were doing shook their heads, and were internally commenting on how their new neighbors were nuts.

We heard a lot of clucking sounds, "you might want to add some compost" and "good luck with that!" Haha.

It took off faster than I expected, the plants and the soil creation. That was nice.

So we did have to create soil from dirt, and to do so we used plants and fed and developed the soil biome.

The ground here does not have worms naturally, so instead ants, termites, cockroaches, and crickets were the first transformers of plant material. Fungus grew into beautiful webs underground as well. And now we have soil that is becoming better each year.

This winter we finally had grown enough plant material to start mulching all the pathways. I can't wait to see the shift that makes. It will keep the ground cooler.
2 months ago
This is a fascinating thread. I think the continuous fermentation system described above is genius for many situations.

I'm into WAPF and Price/Pottenger information and have eaten that way for many years. Lots of fermented foods.  

I've read studies in the past that discovered that there are gut and nutritional benefits to dried fermented products.  Some were studying fermented food nutritional products, like nattokinase and probiotics. Dried probiotics do work, in my experience.

With food, the nutrients have been changed and many are still stable or are actually more stable.

But another wacky thing that I read about- a less intuitive thing- was that the gut biome can be changed by exposure to totally dead gut organisms. Like ones that are heated to the point of being cooked, and cannot revive.

So I believe that if you need to have your fermented food dehydrated for storage reasons, it will probably still work fine.  

Even if you accidentally overheat it, I think it would still have many good principles. I've certainly dehydrated food at a bit too high a temp, a bit too long and it still seemed vital and nutritious.

There are traditional fermented foods that are dehydrated, too. I have a big fat Sandor Katz book somewhere with descriptions that vaguely come to mind- one is a fermented brassica green that is then dried.  People's traditional diets have a lot off innate knowledge to them.

I have a really hard time finding rodent or bug safe storage. Even in my house.  I have to keep woolen garments in sealed plastic bags and throw them in the freezer periodically or they are wrecked.  So I get why dehydrating animal feed could be important to people.
3 months ago
I'm so impressed!

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest coastal forests, where spring foods are everywhere.  I moved to the mid-elevation desert SW, where though there is a wide variety of foragables, they are a "feast or famine" depending on the variable rainfall.

For example, the first year we were in this community we had heavy winter rain and a fantastic flush of pigweed amaranth and wild rocket.  Then the next three winters had barely any rain and almost no spring greens. Almost no wild greens until late July or August.  

Those years the rabbits and pecarries (similar to a wild boar) were so desperate they dug up plants left and right, ringed trees and ate every cactus they could find. Seeing a pecarry eat a cholla was impressive foraging. In that very dry year, the cholla did not bloom and so it wasn't able to provide the pinnacle spring crop, cholla buds.

I have learned a lot watching the animals and the choices they make in different years.

Currently this year, from our garden we are eating celery, self-seeded carrots, fennel, parsley, mint, Sylvetta (perennial arugula), cilantro, giant red mustard, green onions and bulb onions scapes. And small amounts of culinary herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme and the bee balm Monarda fistulosa.  It tastes like oregano and lemon combined. We just finished picking asparagus and Mexican elderberry has just gone into full bloom, if you like flower fritters.

Bulb onion scapes come from bulbs I left in the ground and they are surprisingly juicy and delicious.  They are good fresh or cooked. We've been making a lot of salsa and fajitas. And tuna salad.
3 months ago
I grew up in Oregon with a creek and swamp and puddles all over, so setting water out wasn't a "thing".

Then my husband and I moved to the desert SW.  Keeping water available for animals not only helps them here, but let's you see the coolest creatures! Besides birds... bobcats, foxes, badgers, peccary, toads and even Gila monsters come to the watering spots. They also attract all sorts of beneficial insects, including wasps, bees and dragonflies.

We have metal bowls under each hydrant (water faucet) for animals, and also to collect drips.

Then we have a small stock tank with water plants in it. This one is a favorite for bees and wasps, who can perch on the plants and drink water. I keep mosquito fish in the tank to eat mosquito larvae.

We also have what's referred to as a tank- a seasonal pond that only fills with enough rain. We have two of these and they are naturally sealed. Our soil is very sandy, so they take years to seal naturally and the water still doesn't hold a long time. But it does infiltrate into the ground, and if there is enough rain toads reproduce in the ponds.

Now my husband is making a small decorative pond near our house. We don't want to to use plastic, so he is about to try making the base out of ferrocement.

It will have two "beaches" on it. That means it will have sloped areas that go down to the water, where small animals can drink and also swim out if they fall in.

This is very necessary- desert animals don't seem to know as much about standing water, and many will fall in and die if you don't provide a way out. Even our fairly shallow metal bowls under the hydrants need rocks in them, or baby quail can fall in and drown.

To keep the water clean, we are intending to have about half the surface area in water plants. This has worked well with my two other stock tank ponds thus far. We will keep mosquito fish in there, too, for eating mosquito and midge larvae.

So here's hoping the ferrocement pond seals up well! I'm planning to show a step-by-step thread once it's done (and we are sure it worked...).
4 months ago
It looks like you are getting a lot of good technical advice.

The only thing I can add is that I'm from western Oregon, zone 8b.  Winters are long and dark, cool and damp. Sometimes cold, but many years not below 20F. The thing with western Oregon winters is that there is very little solar gain due to the fog and cloud cover.  This may be different where you are.

I've been in two homes that had Tulikivi soapstone masonry wood stoves. The different owners each loved them.  They were fantastic to be around.

Placement is definitely important, of course, but the gentle heat from them did work better with fans for airflow than my beast of a Jotul stove. (The cast iron Jotul gets very hot, and you have to really work to move that heat. Even with fans, it would easily be 20F hotter near the stove, and cool-to-cold in rooms away from the stove.)

My friends' homes that had those Tulikivi stoves were vastly more comfortable.

So there's my experience, for what it's worth! I think RMHs could have potential in your region.

I'm in the desert SW now and still want an RMH. :-) But we are planning for it to go outside. We can heat with passive solar (and an effective home design) here, there is so much solar gain year round.

4 months ago
My husband made our first hugel back in the Pacific North"wet", where we had an abundant yield of wood yearly.

We moved to the very hot Mojave desert, zone 9a, 4-6 inches of rain a year. The soil was literally sand.  It was easy to dig in! Like digging in a sand dune.

That yard had lots of chopped up eucalyptus and pine trees, plus loads of leaf debris from eucalyptus, pine, chinaberry, and olives.

It was so hot there we didn't need the wood for firewood, so we started our first fully hugel garden. We did it sunken, which is better described as a zai pit.

We had no way of knowing if it would work.  Many resources will say that two of those trees are allopathic. To our delight, it worked very well. Tomatoes, peppers, basil, corn, and different greens all grew well in those beds. I had never grown such nice basil!

The next year, I dug into one of the beds to see what was happening. I suspected that termites were going to be that desert's main soil creation organisms. And that is what we found, along with cockroaches and crickets. Those seem to be the desert trifecta of soil creatures for aridland soil creation!

Next we moved to the Chihuahuan desert. We did our gardens the same way. Here it works even better as we actually have soil, plus more rainfall.  It is very sandy soil with some clay- and the last desert location had no clay.

The pictures below are the first year progressing in Garden #3 here. That first year, we developed the soil using mostly annuals. Perennials are in there, but in our very hot region they usually can't put on aboveground growth until the second year.

So in the first year, we develop the soil organic matter with fast growing annuals. Now in its third year, the garden is mostly perennials with some reseeding annuals including loads of wildflowers.

No manure or off site sourced inputs except organic kitchen scraps. The material to fill the zai-hugel beds comes from plants on the property, and any excess wood we have laying round.

This has worked very well, though it is more labor intensive than most people want to do initially.

In the end though, we have our hugel "sponges" in the ground creating the foundation for a fungal and bacterial web.  I think it is a fast track to creating an active soil biome on a soil that is naturally low in biological activity.  

It's very typical of the sort of permaculture that is high labor at the beginning, and then pays dividends in low management and good yields after that initial time investment.
4 months ago

Timothy Norton wrote:So far, an easy pick for me is the humble Pea.
...It pairs well with many other vegetables without issue so intermixing isn't a difficult thing.

The point about it "playing well with others" is a very good one.  And the polyculture layer ability, going vertical.  Vertical farming is definitely the productive way to go.  I get a lot more production off my 7 row garden by having four of the rows with trellises, running north/south, positioned on one side of the bed.  It's like having an 11 row garden from 7 this way.

Each bed gets the same amount of sun this way, plus I can have beans, peas, melons, etc up the trellises, and still have lots of crops on the ground.
5 months ago