[permaculture] Drylands water capture question

Koreen Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 24 20:34:11 EDT 2013


We are being given 500 trees to plant at Pine Ridge reservation this year and I'd like to experiment with some of them, using different drylands water capture techniques and creating a space to  be a demo site. We have the room on one of the sites we are working with. We've had a hard time working out the funding and logistics to plant deep root plants like alfalfa and then add trees so we're having to slam dunk the trees and somehow come up with ways to loosen the soil and replicate a forest setting that is more compatible with them. We're using mycorrhizae, compost tea, worm castings, mulch, etc, to give them a good base. The soil is compacted clay/silt, the wind gets pretty fierce sometimes and dries everything out (down to six inches sometimes, pretty routine for the first few inches to be dried out by wind), and we can go without rain for sometimes two months or more, and then just get a little bit. Most of the rain/snow melt comes in the spring.
 The winter sometimes is pretty dry until late winter. Temperature extremes, sometimes from day to day (below freezing one day, 85 degrees the next , from 110 to -30 F extreme). Rainstorms coming through sometimes miss us totally, go to either side. So it is pretty hit or miss in the summer.The wind blows mulch off site, hard to mulch the trees (so we are going to mulch them under a layer of tamped down clay soil) The trees we're planting are fairly tough (cottonwood, Ponderosa Pine, Rocky Mountain cedar), and are native to the area except one (Tilia Americana). 

Has anybody planted linden (tilia) in drylands? It does grow up there, and I planted some last year that is doing fine. I just don't know how much water/care it needs compared to the natives. Does anybody know of a way to preserve linden leaves or if they would have any nutrition value dried?  

I would love to hear from people who are planting trees in similar environments and what your most successful actions have been. I'm a semitropical girl and still learning this environment. I will credit you for anything you share when I do my yearly write up. 

We are using several techniques from Brad Lancaster's book, and also a technique I haven't heard of anyone using, but it makes sense to me. One of the successful modes of irrigation up there is a deep water pipe - a vertical 6 inch PVC pipe that has holes in it, stuck in the ground and filled with water to release slowly, beneath the surface where it forces the roots downward and where the soil can hold moisture better.  We can't afford 500 of these and plus we don't really want to put all that PVC in the ground, so we're going to dig holes with post hole diggers and stuff them with wood chips and sticks that we are getting from the fire department's fire suppression brush clearance. We're thinking of ways we can mimic what keyline does (we don't have funding for a plow), or a forest floor. Hugulkulture of course - we will try that as one method. We don't have enough logs to create hugulkulture mounds for 500 trees - that method is not practical on any
 kind of scale there right now.  Maybe in 50 years after we plant thousands of trees, lol. 

Anyone see anything I'm missing?

We will irrigate the linden especially as a back up, but want to find ways to get these trees to survive without it because we could get a lot more planted if we could do that. We are establishing wind break systems in the areas where we are working now, and will keep doing that. We're working on funding to pay a Lakota to hand water from a truck, which is how the NRD does it with their windbreak tree projects where they plant thousands of them - watering 2-3 times per year is enough to keep those tough trees alive even in some drought. We've also had volunteers go out there and water (and welcome volunteers in summer time to check on the trees!) Trees make a huge difference in quality of life in that part of the world. There used to be more of them. When you go into a little pine forest there, it feels so good, in both winter and summer. Their houses would be protected, a lot of things would be better. The people there are careful with using trees for
 firewood - there is a culture of sustainable harvest there of animals, trees, plants. If we plant enough of them, they have some for emergency fuel, fence posts, and of course, food.  Seven generation project.

We would like to expand this tree planting program to 1000's of trees - looking for volunteers, especially grant writers/fund raisers, but other skill sets too, to make that happen, and there is much else needed - natural building, broad scale water catchment, etc. We are still fund raising too, for fuel for the machinery we're using, a truck to haul chips, chipper, etc. Our non-profit is http://www.permacultureguild.us/category/donate/  if anyone is moved to donate - even a small amount is hugely helpful!  We stretch those dollars.
 
Koreen Brennan

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