[permaculture] Drylands water capture question

Koreen Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 25 09:10:20 EDT 2013

This is great Jason, thank you. I thought about snow fencing for the first time, this year - your comments give me more confidence about using it. Don't know why I didn't think of it earlier!  Just not used to dealing with snow...

I dearly wish I could plant black locust - it has so many uses!  And you have just given me more reasons to plant it. But it is toxic to horses and one of the main demonstration sites is a wild horse ranch.  http://www.understanding-horse-nutrition.com/black-locust-tree.html  

I haven't seen any black locust on the rez, and I'm trying to not bring in anything myself that could adversely impact. Horses are sacred and a huge healer on the rez.  We substituted honey locust and planted hundreds of them, but lost a good chunk last year when there is a severe drought and fire and they weren't watered. They were growing more slowly than I wished as well, from a number of factors. So I'm thinking of every way I can to loosen the soil, keep it loose (using machinery to dig the holes really packs it down - we hand dug last year but am not up to hand digging 600 holes in compacted clay!), give them adequate nutrition, and protect even the windbreak trees from too much wind.  The snow fence sounds good, and it's not too expensive. We do have lots of straw bale right now too, but not enough for that many trees. I'm renting a truck to get as much manure as I need. I may have to haul some of it 50 or 100 miles (the rez is so spread out!),
 but if I get 600 trees established, it will be worth it. Trying to get the herds in to drop a bunch of it next to the forest area. That would be ideal, but timing is everything.  

We've planted some Saskatoon serviceberries and other amelanchiers. I haven't tasted any of the "wild" varieties but told they are small and not as tasty as the cultivars (as it usually is). I planted a few of the Saskatoon cultivars that are being used commercially in Canada, could be another income source and good nutritional source too. Do you have any experience with those in harsh climates? 

I really appreciate any wisdom you and others can share about trees in a harsh temperate drylands. I want them to be maximally successful and be able to plant thousands. Thanks for the info about the linden too. They seemed pretty delicate the first year - people really loved them last year, they loved the idea of eating leaves. I haven't tried using the flowers. What are they used for in your parts? Maybe that could be an industry they could get into!  So few chances for employment on the rez. Do you dry them? I might be able to find outlets for them on my route, or in Minnesota/S Dakota/Nebraska. Do you propagate them, and how if so? Do you eat the leaves when they are older? I think they're good, though the young ones are better!  I'm wondering if anyone has tried drying them and if they have nutrition. Working on how to provide food in the winter there. Growing the usual annuals can be tough and they definitely need attention. We're using
 sunchokes which usually grow great there. Interested to see if they survived without water in one location they were at.    

Koreen Brennan


 From: Jason Gerhardt <jasongerhardt at gmail.com>
To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org 
Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 1:25 AM
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Drylands water capture question

Linden grows well in Colorado, which is very similar climatic circumstances
as Pine Ridge. They do need a little more water, but once established are
very hardy. We eat the young leaves in spring and harvest the flowers and
bracts to dry and sell to a local apothecary.

My advice on windbreak species would be to consider black locust. Of all
windbreak species planted on the plains during the Soil Conservation
Service days none had a higher success rate than black locust. None grow
faster too.
 Black locust is arguably more useful than any of the others as
well. These can be grown out cheap from seed. I do this each year in
Colorado. Once you have one windbreak you can take a tractor with a disc on
it and rip the ground on either side of the black locust line. This will
encourage them to root sucker and then you have all the trees you will ever
need for propagation. This is how it was done back in the 30's/40's, or so
I'm told. Disturbance definitely aids sucker sprouting in many suckering
species, *Amelanchiers* as well, which would be another valuable one to
plant up there. Good sense of place species.

As far as planting I have a few suggestions. One is to plant every tree in
a small basin to at least capture a little extra rainfall. Depressions will
also capture wind driven snow. Another suggestion would be to add snow
fencing to the windbreak lines to aid establishment. If you can't get
fencing, try a line of strawbales, or even bundled tumbleweeds, staked in
place, anything to get the snow to drop out of the wind. If you do use snow
fencing then you can just move it on after a couple years to the next
windbreak. Strawbales of course just turn into mulch, so that may be

Just a few of my thoughts on the matter,

Jason Gerhardt

PO Box 4355
Boulder, CO 80306
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