10.25.2011

Stopgap Erosion Control

Summer lasted way too long, with sustained record-setting heat killing off all the grasses around the house. As we were in a drought anyways, watering seemed not only wasteful but useless to boot. The only survivors were a few tough weeds and wild salvias, which I refuse to dig up out of respect for their will to live. Bonus: they're still green! Anyhow, Fall has finally arrived, bringing cooler temperatures and (we hope!) seasonal rains. Now's the time to plant cool season grasses and nitrogen-fixing legumes and grains, especially before the seasonal rains start in earnest, else our downhill neighbor will receive even more of our soil...

Pic: Ducks at the buffet.
First planting test was around the young orchard trees. Grasses can be nutrient hogs, but the trees are close to going dormant for the season anyways, and the need for erosion control is paramount at this point. Rye grass was planted in a circumference around the base of the trees, then covered with old rotted/manured bedding hay. [I smelled reeeally special after spreading that stuff around.] The first week the areas received spot watering to keep the soil moist for germination. Then the trees received their usual scheduled watering - recycled duck/goose pool water - about every 5-7 days in rotation. The grass continued to grow, and is doing fine. The trees all have a wide circumference, short height wire fence around their bases to keep the geese from chewing on their trunks, but am now opening one tree-fence at a time to let the poultry & waterfowl graze.

Pic: Geese take a turn at the buffet table.
Next test: fenced off & seeded a 6' x 12' section of upper "lawn" with a combination of rye grass and bermuda. The bermuda grass is a warm weather grass, but it was leftover from previous plantings, so tossed it in with the rye seeds. Soil temperatures should sprout both. Recycled a rotted bale of hay, loosely covering over the seeds so the still-warm sun wouldn't fry their sprouting efforts. In two weeks time, there was a lovely patch of green. This patch should anchor the soil, and hopefully stop any runoff from sections that don't have grass yet. I'll only open the grassy area every other day or so, lest the birds eat the grass to the bare soil. They do receive regular greens - I feed them heads of romaine or other lettuces every morning - but it's not the same as grazing grasses on their own.

Pic: Now some of the chickens get their feed on. OMG, BUFFET!!!!
Yesterday I fenced off an 8' x 12' section (overlapping a small part of the original 6' x 12'), and have seeded it not only with annual rye grass, but with cereal rye, leftover bermuda, leftover native grasses, and a trio of clovers. Kitchen sink planting! Clover doesn't do well here in the summer - too hot & dry - but it just might be okay as a cool season annual.  I overseeded the rye grass by comparison to everything else, as that's the one thing most likely to sprout at this time. Plus, rye grass seed is cheap. The native grass seeds will hang out just fine until Spring.

Today I am working on seeding the slope in front of the house. Raked out the majority of the rocks and dead thatch, and am getting ready to fence off and start seeding once I finish typing this entry. [If I finish typing this entry. Strangely, my arms are kinda tired!] Come Spring 2012, will seed all these areas again for the warm season with bermuda, buffalo grass, and as much native seed as we can afford. What the heck, let's throw in some wildflower seeds too, I think there's some leftovers in the back closet...


1 comment:

  1. I completely forgot I could come here to see your chicken and geese pictures, to find out what's up with you. Yay!!

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