Work­ing with the land in per­ma­cul­ture

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - WATERMATTERS - By Paul Wei­de­man

RAIN­FALL IN THE SANTA FE AREA BE­TWEEN MARCH 1 AND APRIL 30WAS JUST 0.31 INCH. That’s 60 per­cent less than the pre­vi­ous 10-year av­er­age for the pe­riod. As the skies be­comes less gen­er­ous, it is rea­son­able to try to make our gar­dens more self-sus­tain­ing. Per­ma­cul­tural think­ing can help. Among its 12 prin­ci­ples are ob­ser­va­tion, valu­ing nat­u­ral re­sources and diver­sity, ob­tain­ing a yield, and in­te­grat­ing rather than seg­re­gat­ing.

“Some of the ex­am­ples of per­ma­cul­ture are to have soil that’s alive and that will sup­port plants and ben­e­fi­cial mi­crobes and worms,” said Jeremiah Kidd, “then give it mois­ture to sup­port fruit­ing, pro­duc­tive plants: nut trees and shrubs, fruit trees, fruit shrubs, and edi­ble flow­ers like daylilies, nas­tur­tiums, and tulips; and then make it all look beau­ti­ful.” Kidd is owner/di­rec­tor of San Isidro Per­ma­cul­ture in Santa Fe. “You try to de­sign guilds, and that can in­clude plant­ing daf­fodils around ap­ple trees to keep go­phers away from the roots; plant­ing mints and salvias to at­tract bees for pol­li­na­tion; and plant­ing what we call dy­namic ac­cu­mu­la­tors like com­frey and yarrow that can syn­the­size cer­tain min­er­als in the soil.”

San Isidro Per­ma­cul­ture is ded­i­cated to de­sign­ing, build­ing and main­tain­ing beau­ti­ful, pro­duc­tive and re­gen­er­a­tive land­scapes. The com­pany’s work in­cludes land­scape de­sign, rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing, wa­ter re-use, ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems, edi­ble land­scapes, na­tive land­scapes, hy­droseed­ing and re-veg­e­ta­tion, and ero­sion con­trol.

When rain is scarce, we should max­i­mize what does fall, by de­sign­ing the land­scape to cap­ture it and re­lease it into planted ar­eas and by di­rect­ing runoff to stor­age tanks. “We want to amend the soil and push wa­ter into the soil as much as pos­si­ble us­ing swales or even just de­pres­sions, pond­ing ar­eas— mov­ing wa­ter away fromwhere it’s a prob­lem close to the house and into de­pres­sions where we can put plants,” Kidd said. “Build­ing the soil is huge, to be able to ac­tu­ally soak up the wa­ter, and with mi­crobes to help clean the wa­ter in case it’s com­ing off the street.”

What if our “soil” seems more like a park­ing lot? “Or­ganic mat­ter is the so­lu­tion to most of the prob­lems, whether it’s bet­ter drainage or hold­ing the wa­ter. If you have caliche, you might need a ma­chine in there once to loosen up the soil. A low la­bor-in­ten­sive method is sheet mulching. If you can af­ford it, put com­post down and also mulch, but oth­er­wise the mulch will slowly turn into com­post. You want

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