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Don Elbourne

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since Apr 11, 2017
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Mississippi Gulf Coast (USA) Zone 9
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Recent posts by Don Elbourne

made wild blackberry jelly today

5 years ago
Thanks Ardilla. I never would have thought to put a pressure gage on it. Very cool idea.

I was worried that it would lose its prime, so I hooked a 100' garden hose to it and ran it out to the ditch. lol
5 years ago
We are loaded with them here too. Zone 9 Mississippi gulf coast

5 years ago
My recommendation would be to divide and conquer. Divide the area into different zones and do different things with the various areas. So, for example, select an area that you would like to have the walkable grass lawn. This area may only be 300 sq' or so. Perhaps it would be the area with the least rocks, or the most shaded area, whatever you would like. Then for another area, you could broadcast wildflower seeds and let that area go. In another area, and I would highly recommend this idea, find a source of free wood chips and cover the ground with at least 3" or so. Laying down newspaper or cardboard first would be even better. You could plant some cool annuals in this area. In another area you could plant some fast growing ground cover, like sweet potato vines, pumpkins, or something like that. I'm sure you will spark some other great ideas from others in this thread, so when you do, consider incorporating several of them. Using various strategies in different sections would probably make the endeavor more manageable. Post pictures. It sounds like a great project.
5 years ago


I recently purchased a piece of property and discovered an artesian well.

Apparently the well was at one time attached to a pump. When the house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and the property left vacant, back in 2005, the well was not flowing. Sometime between now and then the pipe started flowing again. I know of at least two other similar situations on nearby abandoned properties. Since I purchased this one, I'm considering what to do with it.

A tree has grown up around the pipe and its just sticking out of a trunck. Its actually kind of funny. My son calls it "my Dad's Magic Tree." Fortunately the pipe inside the tree is metal and the PVC in the picture just screwed off.

My main question is: If I cap this, or install a spigot, will it lose its prime and stop flowing?

I'm going to get the water tested.

And now I'm brainstorming on what to do with this wonderful free water resource. Its on about 1 1/2 acres of un kept land. I am considering clearing the land and establishing a garden or food forest there. Its an off-grid situation. The ground is flat.  I'm in zone 9 on the Mississippi gulf coast (USA). What would you do?
5 years ago
Thank you so much for all this great feedback.

I was not familiar with chinampa. It sounds very interesting. I'm going to look into that further.

I really love the wood chip idea. I've seen the Back to Eden documentary and it is very compelling. I already heavy mulch my raised beds, and I'd love to do a much larger area. I'd need a few hundred dump trucks full to do the whole thing. lol I sure wish I knew about all this about 12 years ago. I pastor a church here on the gulf coast. After Hurricane Katrina, a church in California donated us a saw mill.  We salvaged hundreds of downed trees from the storm and converted them to dimensional lumber. We built two houses for widows in the community before the code office kicked in and required store bought stamped lumber. We also built a few hundred sheds and gave them to folks living in FEMA campers. We built a bunch of other things too. I just hated to see all those trees go to waste. The slash pile was about an acre 16' tall. We eventually burned it. I look back now and wish I would have chipped it all. That would have been cool.

When I said "big equipment" I just meant a skid steer. I'm not that great with a chain saw and 12 years of growth has produced some pretty significant growth. I don't know how I could reclaim it without a gas powered something, short of a fire. I have considered just thinning things a bit and planting some of my preferred things in and about the existing growth. But then another part of me would like to just clear cut the whole thing and start with a clean design. Perhaps I'll start with just clearing about 1/3 of it and go from there.

I love the bald cypress idea. I did plant 7 bald cypress at the church office, next door, about 7 years ago. One has grown much faster than the others. They are beautiful and the shade is wonderful on our hot summer days. I know they like wet places, but I never thought of using them to dry things out a bit for the sake of other things.

Citrus actually does do pretty well here. Several folks grow citrus pretty successfully. The trick is getting them established.  We do not have hard freezes very often, but I did lose a Myer lemon a few years ago when we hit our all time record low of 17. I planted a satsuma, Myer improved lemon, and blood orange on the church property last month. I'd love to do a whole grove of them on my place.

My dream is to turn this place into a food forest that will feed our food pantry. As of now we rely on bulk canned goods. Its frustrating  to be surrounded by unused land and then truck in canned goods to feed the hungry. but I digress...

I'm sure I'm going to be full of questions during this project. I'm glad I found this site. Thank y'all so much.
5 years ago
I'm new to the whole permaculture thing, and this is my first post here. I love what I'm reading about food forests, regenerative agriculture, etc. I'd like to implement some of these ideas on some property I just purchased. I'm trying to wrap my brain around the earthworks part of things. I figured someone here might could help with advice, or at least point me in the right direction.

The undeveloped portion of my land is 425'X250'. Its attached to my existing little 125'X130' lot where I have a tiny house. Here is a Google Earth shot of the property. The undeveloped part is below the red line. In the top right corner is my existing house. The top left is my neighbor.



I'm on the Mississippi gulf coast (USA), about 1 mile from the beach, zone 9. The property is very low. We are about 8' above sea level. About 300' east is marsh. The water table is very high. If I dig a 1' hole, it usually has water in the bottom, Most of the ground is this mucky grey clay but sometimes I'll hit some spots with sand in it.

County roads are on three sides of the property, with drainage ditches, but It doesn't seem like it drains very well. It hasn't rained in a week and there is still an inch or so of standing water in some places.

Two homes were destroyed back in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. The land was cleared with a bulldozer, leaving a couple of 100+ year old  live oaks (green circle). Now the property has about 10 years of thick wild growth on it.

The blue dot is an old artesian well. It was just a pipe sticking out of the ground back in 2005, but now a tree has grown up around it and at some point, it started flowing again. Its pretty funny because it is just a metal pipe sticking out of a tree and water pouring out. My son calls it "My Dad's Magic Tree." I capped it for now and that area is drying up a bit. I should note that the well is not what keeps the property wet, everything is always wet around here.

It seems all the permiculture stuff I'm reading talks about conserving water, holding water, collecting water, in areas that have little water. I have the opposite situation. I'm just trying to figure out what to do with all this water and how to best utilize it.

Big picture, I'm thinking of re-clearing the land, except for the Live Oaks of course, and planting citrus trees, figs, pears, persimmons, bananas, mayhaw,  blueberries, mulberries, and other things; basically a food forest. I already have a small kitchen garden and would like to expand that. I use raised beds with heavy mulch. I also have chickens, and I'm looking into ducks and / or geese.

So my big question here is in regards to typography. If I bring some big equipment in here to clear the land, what would you do in the category of earth works? Most people around here simply grade to slope toward the ditches. I'm wondering if I should do something different. Mounds? Swales? Ditches? I'd hate to plant a ton of trees and then discover later I started out on the wrong foot.

Any help and discussion would be appreciated.
5 years ago