Pete VanDyck, Tony Truong, and I have been working with Randie Piscitello in Leander, Texas getting ready for our upcoming permablitz this November 18th.
Anyone who has land in the Georgetown, Leander, Liberty Hill, Cedar Park area could learn a lot about what to do with an eroded hill side covered with cedar trees.
This permablitz is a textbook case of how to install a terraced orchard in the Hill Country, enrich the local forest, and stop soil erosion.
This 25 degree sloped hillside must have been cleared 20 or 30 years ago and then either grazed by goats or completely abandoned. There is absolutely no top soil remaining, and the only place organic matter is collecting is underneath the larger cedar trees.
We have opened up 8 strips on contour each about 120′ long where we will build conservation terraces with an excavator, and install a perennial food garden as well as attempt to enrich the local woodland with farmers’ trees and native fruiting trees.
There are about 960 linear feet of terraces that we are about to construct and then plant with 48 fruit trees and 16 farmers trees, and then irrigate during the next permablitz.
This may be the most exciting design that we install this permablitz season.
Please come if you can. We will absolutely need all of the help we can get.
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Purpose: To create a perennial food storage system for human/poultry/bee forage.
Private or Public land: Private (Residential)
Original Installation Date: 2015.03.14,15
Original Budget: $1350
Funding Provided By: Property owners
Site Liaison(s): Michelle Hernandez (property owner)
Volunteer Information: Approximately 34 volunteers helped with this permablitz.
How long did the install take?: 9-5, two days
What has worked well:
- Having drip irrigation on a scheduled basis. We had to replace one of the drip irrigation timers for failure for unknown reason. Otherwise, the drip irrigation has worked well.
- Using plenty of compost and plenty of mulch.
- Densely planting cover crops and other smaller plants.
- Regularly visiting the earthworks and harvesting crops (and just enjoying observing nature). Also pulling weeds when they are small.
What hasn’t worked so well and presents learning opportunities:
- Weed growth, especially on one specific berm. I think the issue was the mulch and compost was thinner on that berm in area 13. Less cover crops came in, and weeds moved in. The soil will need to be improved over time.
- Loss of trees. The section below will outline what trees were lost where. They primarily were lost on the berm in area 13 and also were primarily red buds, although there were some other nitrogen fixers lost. Some of these red buds had been in pots for multiple months, but the pots were “staggered” (?) pots. (I don’t know what they are called.)
- The “invisible” deer fencing. The bottom fishing line has been unraveled multiple times (maybe by my dogs). Deer or other wildlife eats plants that aren’t either large enough or are deer resistant. My strategy will be to plant deer resistant plants.
What needs to happen to keep the garden vital and productive:
- Feeding the soil
- Consistent water, compost, and mulch monitoring and replenishment when needed
- Variety of plants with different functions and nutrient profiles
|Irrigation||How is the Garden Getting Water?||Two separate systems of drip line on timers, run for one hour every other day in the morning. The two systems run in alternating days.|
|Estimated Water Use||As a very rough estimate, we use 461 gallons of water to run all the berms (length of berm x # of drip lines x distanve of emitters on drip lines x emitter rate/hour)|
|Earthworks||Soil Type/Composition||Soil type/compositions – mix heavy clay soil (black gumbo clay) + berm builder + soil from existing raised wooden beds in garden.|
|Soil Depth||1 foot above ground created by Permablitz|
|Number of Berms/Swales Installed||5 (in 3 different areas: “area 3”, “area 12”-shaded, and “area 13”)|
|Length/Width of Berms and Swales in Linear Feet||Total: 173 linear feet of berm, 173 linear feet of swaleBerm/Swale 3c: 6’x27’
Berm/Swale 3b: 6’x22’
Berm/Swale 3a: 6’x19’
Berm/Swale area 12 (in shade): 8’x50’
Berm/Swale area 13: 8’x55’
|Was Soil Imported? If So, How Much?||6 yards (could have gotten away with 5)|
|Was Mulch Imported? If So, How Much?||Mulch was imported, I guess. It came from neighbor’s wood-chipped dead oaks (sat for over 1 year) + tree trimming service for public utilities. All free. Don’t know quantity.|
|Plants||Number of Trees Planted||24|
|Species/Spacing Between Trees||Berm 3c trees: Common Persimmon, Red Mulberry, Texas Persimmon, PomegranateBerm 3b trees: Loquat, Anna Apple, Kidneywood, Blushing Delight Apple, Moringa
Berm 3a trees: 2 Red Peach, Moringa
Area 12 trees: Texas Torchwoods, Redbud, Brown Turkey Fig, Kidneywood, Anacua, Texas Mountain Laurel
Area 13: LSU Purple Fig, Eve’s NEcklace, Pecan, Anacua, Kidneywood, Western Soapberry, Goldenball Leadtree
|Caliper Width of Trees (Measured Annually)/Date Measured|
|Survival Rate of Trees/Date Observed||9 trees lost as of August 19, 2015|
|Describe Understory and Groundcover||Berm 3c: sorrel, asparagus, Italian dandelion, and more.Berm 3b: comfrey, fennel, sweet potato, okra, peppers, and more.
Berm 3a: asparagus, sweet potato, California black eyed pea, and more.
area 12: flame leaf acanthus, cast iron, aloe vera, chile pequins, Texas betany, Greggs mist, Turks cap, plumbago, cedar sage, peppermint, double mint, patchouli
Area 13: holy basil, Texas native milweed, Henry Duelberg salvia, lemongrass, aloe vera, yucca, and more
|Structures||Existing Structures (Fences, Sheds, etc. on Property Before Installation)||Fence line between permablitz garden and Sunset Valley Community Garden.
Standing outside the fence looking from left to right there is a Flame Leaf Grape→6’→Blackberry
Understory: Bermuda Grass
|Installed Structures (Trellises, Solar Panels, Solar Shower, Outdoor Kitchen, Chicken Coops, Greenhouses, etc)|