Author Topic: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado  (Read 39633 times)

Offline Kreindl

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Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« on: May 10, 2013, 10:13:24 PM »
This past weekend I finished the main trees in my food forest.  I planted a combination of 40 bare root trees, bushes and shrubs behind two woody swales.


I bought these from - St Lawrence Nurseries <trees@sln.potsdam.ny.us> since they specialize in cold hardy trees.

Soil is rather sandy especially compared to the Houston area where I grew up. 

Here is what has been planted so far

Food Forrest Order 2013   

Type     Quantity
Larger Trees planted behind larger swale which is on the higher north side.
Bur Oak   3
Black Walnut   3
Black Cherry   3
Mulberry Northrop Morus alba   2
   
Apple Trees   5
   
Shrubs   
   
Smoky June Berries   2
Prince William June Berries   2
Gooseberries Pixwell   10
Sumac   3
Elder berries   8

Next I plan to plant a lot of these for support trees - SIBERIAN PEASHRUB - CARAGANA ARBORESCENS

Quite a few photos here: https://plus.google.com/photos/114815890354309799429/albums/5851374180696498465

Food forest delivered to my house - seemed so small for 41 plants



All the smaller trees and shrubs are below this second swale


Wood core of the first larger woody swale - it is just over 300 feet long



Things learned - Looks at the bare root trees before digging all the holes.  The nursery suggested a 4 ft. by 2 ft deep hole for each then we go to plant the trees and realize our holes are much to large.  It took a long time to move the dirt back by hand so eventually we used the bobcat/backhoe attachment to push the dirt back into the hole.  Next time I will dig up the dirt with the backhoe/excavator and dump it right back in the hole then use a shovel to move the dirt as needed.

I soaked the trees for one or more hours before planting and planned to soak them in water with Medina Hasta grow but I didn't get it in time so I used water with 'Plant Success Soluble ' which contains contains mycorrhizal fungi, tricoderma and  bacteria for plants.

The instructions suggested watering the trees 5 to 10 gallons a day for a month or so.  It has rained most everyday so I'm watering about 4 gallons a day and will increase it tomorrow if it does not rain.  Seems like a bit to much and one photo shows that I dug out bit so as the water could get away from the tree since it had pooled.

It took a long time to get all the irrigation in and I need to find a tool to attach the small drip line pieces since they are tough to get together.  I found myself biting the end of the hose to try to loosen it up before attaching the little pieces.

There is over 500 feet of 1/2 inch pipe and then quite a bit of the 20mm ??  small tube to reach each tree.  All the larger trees have 4 gallons per hour drips and the smaller bushes 2 gallons per minute.

Many of the smaller bushes had more roots than the trees. 
« Last Edit: May 18, 2013, 06:16:52 AM by Nicodemus »

Offline Kreindl

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Should I much both sides of the swale with hay?
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2013, 09:21:32 PM »
I found out who owned the old hay near the farm and he said I was welcome to all of it.  So today I loaded it up and mulched the trees and the downhill side of the swale. 

Question should I mulch both sides of the swale?  I watched Geoff Lawton's DVD and I believe they mulched  the entire swale (might have gotten this idea from his greening the desert video).  The only negative I can think of is maybe the hay would soak up some water preventing it from seeping into the swale.  Maybe even if it does it will keep more moisture in than it absorbs.


The first load of hay - I didn't realize some were still in bales which made it much easier to load and unload.


I also planted the 50 support tree seeds (SIBERIAN PEASHRUB - CARAGANA ARBORESCENS)  Some I placed only a couple of feet from the bare root trees.  Not sure if that is a good thing or not but I figure I'm going to be cutting them for mulch.

I was happy to see quite a few leaves on many of the trees there were not there when I planted them almost two weeks ago.

Also it looks like the oak tree I dug up out of my back yard is doing great.  I was maybe 2 feet tall and after seeing all the bare root trees I figured I could did it up so I did.  I dug up all the roots I could and then stored it in a pot with dirt in the shade for a week or so until I could plant it.  After you see bare root trees you will realize they can handle a lot when it comes to transplanting.

Offline Kreindl

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Latest Update late July 2013
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2013, 10:54:54 PM »
Most all of the bare root trees and shrubs are growing in the 'permaculture food forest'.  One of the larger bur oaks took a few months to produce any leaves. I was certain it was a goner.

I just added more irrigation for a clover and good bug mix I just planted on the back side of the smaller swale.  I also transplanted some strawberries and mint out there.  And I'm going to see if sweet potatoes will grow in the swale along with some cabbage and green beans.  I should have planted the swales with a lot more cover crop right away. 

Oh I was very pleased to find a toad out there.  Later that day I listened to Geoff Lawton's permaculture lesson where he mentions that animals and even endangered animals show up in these systems.  I've only ever found a few frogs here in Colorado so that was exciting.  Now I want some pond liner so I can have a pond to see what else I can attract.

This is the new line which currently has 5 x 13 foot sprayers.  I spaced them so I can add 5 more in between them. 


A happy caterpillar hanging out in one of my early 'good bug mix' planted areas on the larger swale.


One of the 50 nitrogen fixing Siberian Peashrubs I planted.  I might have 5 that came up.  I'm going to try something different with my next batch.


And some asparagus - 50% off sale got me, And I ended up with more of this than I realized so some for the farm and some for the house.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2013, 06:54:29 AM »
Wow! Great project you have going here. Thanks so much for sharing all the photos! +1

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2013, 06:59:39 AM »
Dunno why I missed this when you posted in May, but this looks beautiful.

Offline Kreindl

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August update
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2013, 09:39:40 PM »
Before I forget - I replaced the wire around the trees with the plastic to keep rabbits off of them because the metal took most of the bark off some of the trees from all the wind we get.  This is what used to be around them (maybe you can buy better metal instead of cutting your own like I did)



Added compost around a lot of the trees and then covered the compost with leaves that I collected last year.  I drive around and grabbed a lot of bags which I took out to the farm to add to the soil.
 There were actually worms in the compost pile!!  Oh and now that I fixed more of the original irrigation system my compost pile is being irrigated which really helps it break down in the rather dry conditions we have.

Compost only


Compost covered with leaves (will they stay or will they blow away?


I've added more irrigation to get some coverage on the back side of each swale (still lots more to cover).


And more detail (this is the good bug mix planted about 2 weeks ago)


One of the very happy new trees in its first year.


Some mint I transplanted from my house and some perennial I got on sale for $3.  I've planted quite a few $3 specials that I think the bees will like.


The best part of swales is having lots of room to plant whatever you can think of.  I've added potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, mint, lavender, "good bug mix" which includes clover, radish, and probably another 8 plants, watermelon, several types of flowers from our yard remodel and a straight clover mix.  I've ready for some more sale items!  And more nitrogen fixers.

Note for these sprinkler heads which irrigate about a 13 ft. circle the heads started popping off when I added the second set to the line so I've now zip tied all of them so as they will stay on.  A few of the hoses that came with them also split so they were replaced.

Offline Kreindl

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2013, 11:27:55 AM »
A few updates including the proposed design for the property.

First I've learned that what I thought were the SIBERIAN PEASHRUB that I planted were not.  Those seeds need to be planted with time for them to be cold quite a bit.  So I'll be planting many of them again.  And I'll update when they actually start growing.

We got a lot of rain like the flooded areas yet not much of any water was standing on the property.  On 9/23 I showed up to find another 2.5 inches of rain from the night before.  There was a bit in the larger swale and some in the tire tracks where I got the truck stuck a week ago.  Getting the truck stuck gave me the idea to add a pond there which is the one on the right hand side of the image below.



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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2013, 11:42:04 AM »
How did everything do early this summer?  It was brutally dry until early July and I know I had problems with some of my new stuff in established beds and plenty of irrigation.  It wasn't an ideal summer to get new stuff started.

I've had excellent luck with several varieties of gooseberries and I've found they're extremely drought tolerant.  Blackberries have also done well after they've have a chance to lay down roots (first year watering is a must, though).

Keep the pictures and plans coming.  Looks like a great project!  Have you thought about using drift fencing to help capture and hold more snow longer?  Once your wind break trees are established they'll do this naturally, but in the meantime, it's a good way to help capture more for the early spring.

Offline Kreindl

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2013, 02:31:23 PM »
3 to 5 of the trees I planted are questionable.  Will be interesting to see which are still alive next year.  I did have drip irrigation to each of them and they were getting several gallons a day.  Then I went to watering for 45 minutes every other day and now to every third day.  I had the water off the past couple of weeks because of the record setting amounts of rain we were getting.

Early in the year I was collecting wooden pallets which I had planned to use as snow fences/wind breaks.  I still need to stand them up.

I've got a lot of photos I need to upload.  Mushrooms are popping up all over the acreage after all the recent rain.

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2013, 03:02:21 PM »
With bare root you will always have some loss.  Even in my controlled little plot which I could attend to frequently, I lose new trees all the time.  And you're right, just because they make it through the summer doesn't necessarily mean they'll come back next spring.  If we have a period of extended dryness during the winter, like more than 3-4 weeks, you might want to give them a little water.  I know that's what cost me a couple trees last winter.  It just got too dry and they continue to lose moisture even when dormant if it's warm and windy (like much of last winter).

I'm up the hill from you at about 7,500'.  I get quite a bit more snow that you guys down on the flats, but still suffer from some of the same long dry spells.  Colorado poses its own set of challenges every year.  I might also recommend lovage, borage and comfrey.  Lovage is a great perennial early season salad green that provides nice shade on your soil and doesn't require an inordinate amount of water.  Borage brings in good pollinators and comfrey is a great green manure and mulch that also provides good soil shade.

I look forward to more of your pics as things continue to develop. 

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2013, 09:24:51 PM »
Good work Kreindl keep up the good work and when you get time post a few more pics as the months progress.

Offline Kreindl

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September updates
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2013, 11:21:14 AM »
I can't say it enough how great swales are since they create so much room to plant so many things.

Since I have extra clover seed I planted some by each of the apple trees.  They did germinate and have come up.  These seeds have been treated with the rhizome so as they have a better chance to produce nitrogen.



Onions on the swale from 2013, I spread some of these along with their seeds out for next year.


We got one small watermelon this year which tasted great, the seeds will be used for 2014 plantings.  This was planted very late so even the one watermelon was a surprise.


I ordered quite a bit of Comfrey from CoesComfrey.com and here are some of the 100 small root cuttings.
  A few of these at my house have come up.  The two year plants have 10 or more leaves already.  I'm expecting the small cuttings to come up next year.



Here is where most of the 100 were planted, I'll dig them up when they get larger.


The zip lock bag the 100 came in


The garden area out at the farm in Watkins actually has a lot of life aka Worms


After the week of record setting rain for Colorado there was a little bit of water in the part of the swale where I added dirt from Denver.  It didn't stay there long.  The soil is so sandy that is soaks in quickly.  The dry river bed a few hundred yards away looked dry even after all of the rain. 


And another photo of the ground during the week of record setting rain.


This is a picture of the smaller swale looking southward, you can see a taller apple tree and then the next row of shrubs: sumac, juneberries etc.


After all that rain guess what appeared across the property?  Mushrooms - 2 different kinds from what I saw.  I'm glad there is some life under the ground!



Then the week after the record setting rain I went out and found in the water gauge that we got almost another 2.5 inches of rain one night.  The swales were dry even after the additional rain.  It really soaks in quickly.  Not so sure if swales are doing much.  Most of these swales have a woody core which might be as beneficial as the swale itself.  The trees in the background were planted by the previous owners, I mulched around them recently and turned the drip irrigation back on this year for them.


Now that fall is finally here it is time to drain the systems and get ready to start collecting leaves from Denver for this next year.  Along with wood for woody beds and woody swales. 


Offline Doc K

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2013, 07:09:06 AM »
I wanted to answer quickly, since I didn't see anyone else answer your question... "Do I mulch the swale bottom or not?"

In the beginning phases of your implementation, if you want some transient standing water after large rains, then do not mulch the swale bottom much. I would still mulch it some, so that you do not have bare soil. However, all the disturbed soils should have cover crops or groundcover planted in it. If you want to continue to have transient standing water after large rain events, then make sure you plant a low growing plant. If you don't care, or if you are in a high evaporation climate, then mulch everything. The earthworks will still work just fine if you cover everything with thick mulch. Water will still trickle through the mulch to the earth and slowly seep into the soil. If the rain fall rate exceeds soil soaking rate, then water will fill the swale (to whatever height the rainfall allows) and then overflow.

I know you are already beyond that, but for anyone else reading this post. 

Fantastic photos and documentation. Thanks for sharing!

Doc K

Offline Kreindl

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Leaves, Leaves and more Leaves
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2013, 08:56:45 PM »
Talk about leaves, I've been loading and unloading them for a few weeks now.  I think I just made my 10th trip out taking leaves from Denver to the farm.  The soil is so sandy that I'm taking as many as I can.  I think I'm getting about 1000 pounds per trip.  The trailer is 5' x 10' with 4' sides around most of it.  I also fill the bed of the truck and usually several more bags ride along in the cab.  My signs out side my house have really worked and I must have several hundred more bags I need to pick up and transport.  Today the city told me I had to move them or else I'll get a fine.  I have a few weeks to move the ones near the street.  I updated my signs to say No More Leaves at this point and hope to get the rest of them near the street moved tomorrow.

I think I get a lot more leaves in the trailer when I empty a lot of the bags into the trailer and stomp them down.  Reminds me of stomping cotton down in cotton trailers as a kid before there were machines to compress the cotton.  Once I stomp the leaves down I put heavy bags on top of them.  When it comes to emptying the trailer I find it easier to put down the gate and grab the leaves by hand.  We used a rake and hoe the first time and that took quite a while.  My helper just turned 5 so maybe that explains a bit of it.  When grabbing them by hand I can get 10lbs or so of leaves all at once.

I have 6 or 7 large piles of leaves that I hope will compost.  I plan to get manure to mix with them once I get them all out there.  I've added some Compost Plus to the piles and watered many of them.  Other leaves are still in bags as you can see and others I spread out and mow them to break them up a bit.  Some of the bags and leaves were already generating heat so I put many of them in the large piles.

I have 10 or so bags that I added Compost Plus to and water to see if they will compost a bit in the bags.  Since the bags are black they heat up when in the sun so maybe they will break down in there.  Last year some of the wet ones broke down on their own. 

My neighbor asked me what was in the bags last year and I only made a few trips last year.  This year I'll have hundred of bags out there until I get the time to spread more of them out.  It will be interesting to see how the soil with leaves compares to the soil without leaves.  I have quite a bit of exposed soil so I'm thinking the more leaves on the ground the better.  In the city I think of leaves as killing grass.  Out there I found grass that grew through the plastic bags so I think the leaves can only help.  My neighbors think I'm helpful but also must really be wondering.  One visitor to the farm said 'you can't cover it all' and I'm thinking if I had a huge trailer or dump truck I could and might cover the entire 20 acres.  At this point I'm focusing on covering all of the swales and all the area in and around the food forest.  The extra leaves will be spread where I'm planning to plant next year as well as different slopes to see if it helps.

After learning more about mob grazing I'm really hoping to get someone to bring some cows or sheep out to mob graze the land.  My backup plan is to spread cow manure over it all.  If you haven't watched the mob grazing youtube videos check them out.  Allan Savory has a good one here: http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html 
and Greg Judy has a lot on youtube.

Some of the leaves dropped at my house:



The leaves at my house that Denver doesn't approve of


My helper trying a shovel to get the compressed leaves out


One of the piles for compost and some of the bags from that load


My experiment of adding Compost Plus and water to some black bags

And another view


A good photo to show how compressed the leaves are after I stomp them and bags sit on top of them.


The ground after spreading and mulching leaves:

Still some exposed soil


A look out at the food forest, swales and about 5 piles of leaves.  I've covered the swales in leaves now and have a few of the compost piles in the swales.


Offline Vision

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2013, 05:34:26 PM »
Man, that looks awesome!! Where is your property located?? Im moving to Fort Collins in the spring, and in hopes of finding something similar!!
Thanks for documenting all of your hard work!!
V

Offline 0josh0

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2013, 09:25:04 AM »
Nice looking project. I'm also looking at doing a similar project on the eastern plains of CO. Please keep the pics and documentation coming. It will be fascinating to see how your system progresses. Another suggestion for cheap/free biomass is to call up feedlots and dairies and ask them about hay/straw bales which are to old/moldy to use. They can often be obtained for cheap/free and they may load them for you.

Offline wyomiles

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2013, 01:37:06 PM »
Looking good Kreindl ! Might also look into local tree services or landscapers. I see them hauling all sorts of good wood chips around in our area.

Not sure if you have looked into getting trees and shrubs from the county. They have pretty good deals on all sorts of trees.

http://csfs.colostate.edu/pages/buying-trees.html#program-qualifications

Have you heard of keyline plows?

Offline uncfblog

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2013, 09:29:56 PM »
Thanks for the well-documented updates on the farm.  I am out in Elbert County and I started my Food Forest with Black Locust, Pea Shrubs, Hazelnuts, Chinese Chestnuts, butternuts, and assorted fruits.  Your design is much farther along, great work!  As far as mulch goes, I had four dump truck loads dumped off in my front yard by a local arborer.  If your up for it, I would love to take a look at your site some time.

Offline Kreindl

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2013, 10:11:12 PM »
Man, that looks awesome!! Where is your property located?? Im moving to Fort Collins in the spring, and in hopes of finding something similar!!
Thanks for documenting all of your hard work!!
V

The place is in Watkins near front range airport.  Congrats on the upcoming move.  There are many more ponds/lakes around Fort Collins.  Maybe you will have better soil.

Offline Kreindl

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2013, 10:22:58 PM »
Thanks for the well-documented updates on the farm.  I am out in Elbert County and I started my Food Forest with Black Locust, Pea Shrubs, Hazelnuts, Chinese Chestnuts, butternuts, and assorted fruits.  Your design is much farther along, great work!  As far as mulch goes, I had four dump truck loads dumped off in my front yard by a local arborer.  If your up for it, I would love to take a look at your site some time.

I had just been reading and thinking about planting Hazelnuts, Chinese Chestnuts after reading about Woody Agriculture on Ben Faulk's website: http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com/new-underutilized-crop-testing/ and he links to http://www.badgersett.com/.

I brought out some mulch early this year but not near enough.  I'm now grabbing lots of old straw that is free and right around the corner.  All of my swales are finally covered.  Now I want to turn most mulch into biochar!

We can surely meet up!  I've been wondering if people would come out to look around and if I could put on a demonstration class of sorts to show people swales/contours with A Frame levels, composting, biochar etc.

Offline Kreindl

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2013, 10:32:49 PM »
Looking good Kreindl ! Might also look into local tree services or landscapers. I see them hauling all sorts of good wood chips around in our area.

Not sure if you have looked into getting trees and shrubs from the county. They have pretty good deals on all sorts of trees.

http://csfs.colostate.edu/pages/buying-trees.html#program-qualifications

Have you heard of keyline plows?

Oh you brought up keyline plows!!! I was looking into them again last week wondering if I could buy a yeomans (spelling?).  I thought I found a supplier in California earlier this year and this time I found a facebook page for a company in the north east.  I don't even have a tractor but I would like a plow and figure if they work other people would want to use it as well.  I do wonder if it would help with the sandy and compact soil.  Water just soaks in so I'm wondering if swales are over kill.  I'm glad most of my swales have woody cores.  After the week of rain and another 2.5 inches of rain most of my swales were dry. 

My neighbor came over today (saw the smoke from my biochar operation) and mentioned the csfs tree program is open now.  He also mentioned something about a $1,000 matching grant the last time we spoke.  I would like to get some trees from them and plant them above wood/compost/biochar mix to see if they would really take off.  Hopefully I'll work on that front this year.  It is almost time for me to order the trees for my next food forest I want to put in this next year.

If I can find people who would drop off wood chips in Watkins I'd be all for it.  I've thought about offering to pay them to bring them out.  Or have them dropped off in Denver and then I'd load them and bring them.  Oh a dump trailer would be great!

Offline Kreindl

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2013, 10:37:51 PM »
Nice looking project. I'm also looking at doing a similar project on the eastern plains of CO. Please keep the pics and documentation coming. It will be fascinating to see how your system progresses. Another suggestion for cheap/free biomass is to call up feedlots and dairies and ask them about hay/straw bales which are to old/moldy to use. They can often be obtained for cheap/free and they may load them for you.

Funny you mention this, I took 5 loads of manure out to the place a week or two ago.  Rented a dump trailer from homedepot, made 5 trips and returned it within 4 hours.  Already used some in a compost pile which is cooking now thanks to a heating pads help.  I will look around for more dairies if I deplete my current source.  My neighbor is a huger farmer and has winter wheat straw that is moldy I can have.  I saw his ad on craigs list for moldy mulch straw and told him I'd buy more.  The grass out there will grow through it while it provides ground cover.

Offline Kreindl

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2013, 11:15:55 PM »
Latest update.  I ended up taking 13 or 14 loads of leaves so hopefully 13,000 or 14,000 pounds out there.  Bought some used riding mowers to mulch them up.  My 5 year old enjoyed riding with me although he really liked driving around randomly.

I took 5 loads of manure out a week or two ago. Some will go into each of my leaf compost piles and some I'm going to spread around to see the results.

I made some biochar the last two days and plan to use it with compost to enhance as much as I can.

I also just confirmed that my use of a heating pad to kickstart a compost pile actually worked.  I turned it off now that the pile is cooking and will see if it sustains the heat.

How I warmed up my compost pile - Kick starting it with a heating pad inside a plastic bag to keep it and the wires a bit drier.  You want a heating pad that does not have an auto off.  Thus a cheaper pad should work.


Then  I started covering it up, layering leaves and cow manure along with water.


Then I added bags of leaves on the outside for insulation.  I've since noticed that Ben Faulk used straw and drainage pipe with holes in it for the base so I've started a second pile like that.


I used a timer to turn the heating pad on for 30-45 minutes.  I'm not so sure it wasn't on all the time.  Will have to confirm.  Now that the pile is hot I unplugged it.


Now it is BIOCHAR time
I used a 55 gallon barrel and a 15 gallon keg for a retort that goes inside the 55 gallon barrel upside down.  After two burns I'm rather certain I need more air holes around the bottom outside of the 55 gallon barrel since it produced a lot of smoke. 

Here is the 15 gallon keg minus its top so as I can add wood which will become biochar.


I fill it with wood and set it on a trash can like so.


Then the 55 gallon barrel does a keg stand (so as I can tip it back over keeping the wood inside the keg.


Then it is time to add wood around the keg in the 55 gallon barrel and light it.  I put the lid on it with a gap between the lid and barrel for air, and added a rocket mass heater chimney to it.   The lid is not necessary but it is rockety as Paul Wheaton would say.




I stopped the first burn after 20 minutes and ended up with biochar in the larger barrel


And some charred wood in the keg (the retort).  It had just begun to char but it was smoking so much I had to put it out.  I let the second burn go a lot longer and totally charred the wood in the keg.  I also lined the outside bottom couple of feet of the barrel with used firebricks which definitely helped hold heat as the bottom foot of the barrel was glowing.


And I thought I might be bored this winter.  Probably time to order more trees for next year.

Offline 0josh0

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #24 on: December 23, 2013, 01:08:23 PM »
Funny you mention this, I took 5 loads of manure out to the place a week or two ago.  Rented a dump trailer from homedepot, made 5 trips and returned it within 4 hours.  Already used some in a compost pile which is cooking now thanks to a heating pads help.  I will look around for more dairies if I deplete my current source.  My neighbor is a huger farmer and has winter wheat straw that is moldy I can have.  I saw his ad on craigs list for moldy mulch straw and told him I'd buy more.  The grass out there will grow through it while it provides ground cover.

I'm not sure how much of a concern it really should be, but you may want to test that manure for residual herbicides. Making a tea from the manure and testing on  a leguminous plant is a good test, I've read, as they are particularly sensitive to herbicides. Might not be a bad plan to test the straw/hay as well.

Offline Kreindl

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More biochar updates
« Reply #25 on: January 08, 2014, 08:58:03 PM »
So last week it was 50 or 60 degrees so I made it back to the farm.

I modified my 55 gallon drum by enlarging the holes at the bottom and adding 4 triangle holes toward the top to allow more air which got rid of all of the smoke I had the first two burns.  I've been dumpster diving around the area grabbing all the wood the builders throw away.  I hope to get some to agree to stack it outside the dumpsters for me.  I've yet to find a 30 gallon barrel on craigslist but I did think to look for airtanks and I scored a 30 gallon tank two days ago.  It is much thicker and thus should last a long time and it twice the size of the 15 gallon keg I'm currently using as a retort inside the 55 gallon drum.



Here is a photo during the biochar burning process, you can see the metal has mostly changed colors from the heat.



I hold the chimney up with firebricks and use firebricks around the bottom as insulation.  Only use firebricks as regular bricks can explode.  Since I cut holes around the top of the barrel I put the lid on the barrel instead of spacing it up a bit.



This is some of the biochar in larger chunks that I'm going to crush and add to the compost pile I'm making.  I put it in a bucket add a bit of water and smash it a bit with a sledge hammer or axe.



After the smashing



Adding biochar to the compost pile.  I'm wondering if breaking it up even more would be a good thing.  I gather over time it will break up and make the soil look more like the Amazon's terra preta soil.



This is steam coming out of the chimney and off of the barrel after I spray it to end the burn.  Two pieces of wood in the 15 gallon keg (retort) were not 100% charred but it was time for me to go.



Another steam photo - I believe the syngas heats the firebricks, keg and 55 gallon barrel up to around 1000 degrees F so it takes a lot of water to cool it down.  My second compost pile is in the background, I was building it while making the char. 



This is the second large compost pile I made.  I'm insulating it with straw bales and mixing manure, leaves, biochar and straw in it and kicking the heat off with the heating pad again along with some of the hot compost from the first pile which is very hot several weeks after I removed the heating pad.  I plan to start a new pile each time I get out there.  With 20 acres I can use more than I can make.  I forgot to add the water pipe along the way but put some toward the top just in case I want to run air or water through it to see how much heat I can get out ala Ben Faulk - check out his youtube video where he gets 140 degrees out of his pile with a lot more pipe.  http://vimeo.com/57148852



The completed 2nd pile with a bit of straw on the top and all around it.  I have a 4 or 5 inch drainage pipe on the bottom just like Ben Faulk used.  Which I think will work better than my use of 3 inch drainage pipe in the past.  I do wonder if it would be good to have pipe in the middle and other areas as well.



An apple tree near the first compost pile looks to think it is spring.  I gather the heat from the pile is warming the ground and tricking the tree a bit.  Oops.



To get a jump on the biochar and to check out what I can buy commercially I bought several hundred pounds in 55 gallon drums.  Had I known I could have fit more in the truck had they loaded it into large bags I would have requested that.  Probably next time I will.  This biochar is from Colorado Biochar Resources in Pueblo Colorado.  Micha was helpful and nice and interested in the results I get.  I plan to do some testing over the years to compare areas with biochar and areas without including the results from using different sized pieces as well as how they are amended and applied.  Each barrel averaged 47 pounds of biochar since they sell it completely dry.



Their biochar producing machine



More of their photos here
http://colobiochar.com/biochar-production.html

And I added some rocks/pavers to the south side of a swale.  They will not blow away and I hope reptiles and bugs will enjoy the micro climate they offer.  I'm going to add sections like this every so often.


Offline wyomiles

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2014, 01:38:05 PM »
Have you looked into Paul Stamats work with mycelium/mushrooms?
I am just getting started with his book "Mycelium Running".
Looks like some really cool stuff that would help you build soil fast.

Offline Kreindl

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2014, 09:29:20 PM »
I've not looked at Paul Stamats work until you posted about it.  Hopefully some day.  I hope to get some biochar that has mycelium added to it to mix with my plantings. 

Offline Kreindl

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2014, 09:58:43 PM »
Question does anyone know why Darren placed the black corrugated tube with the tree.  He calls it "an aggie pipe or drainage pipe".   I gather it is to water the tree roots.   Just after 5:15 in this video.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yJMrJLttK4   

I had been wondering about doing something similar for my trees.  I found this site which points out that for sandy soil the water penetrates down rather easily and quickly so maybe I will just use drip without it.  http://aces.nmsu.edu/ces/yard/2001/061601.html

I have 190 trees from the state forest service showing up in less than three weeks so I started digging holes and flagging the location of the trees today.  These are rather small trees so I hope small holes about 8 inches in diameter will suffice!!

The drip irrigation for the food forest last year took forever to install. 

Thus the highlight of my day today was finding this "miracle insert tool" which will insert the 1/4 inch micro tube on the 1/4 inch fittings: http://www.dripworks.com/product/PUINS  They description is right on when it says it will save time and prevent soreness in your hands!  The ends of my fingers appreciate this find.  I found an 18 second YouTube video showing it.  Home depot didn't think they existed yet digidrip or the brand they carry actually makes one as well.  Get this "miracle punch" also if you are doing much drip irrigation with 1/2 tubing and the 1/4 micro tubing.  It is worth the price and then some!  http://www.dripworks.com/product/Q_PUM


Offline 0josh0

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Re: Food Forest on Eastern Plains of Colorado
« Reply #29 on: March 20, 2014, 06:51:47 PM »
It looks as if he's leaving that pipe there so they can quickly drive by and fill it with water and let it soak in. That'd be my guess.

If you're doing drip irrigation for that many trees, I think you'd save a lot of time and expense if you used trip tape, AKA t-tape. It's a flat tape that is easily quickly rolled out, and has drip holes every so often. You can get it with maybe 12 or 18 inch spacing.

I can't think of the name of it, but I've seen products that were made to self water plants over an extended period of time to get them established. If I remember, it was basically a water storage system that somehow slowly released water into the soil over weeks/months.