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Perryland Off The Grid
Perryland Off The Grid
Last updated:
Carrizo Plain, California, US
Climate zone:

Joel Nisly Katie Howden Seth Olson Steve Flanagan Tom Mosakowski
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Perryland Off The Grid

Project Type

Rural, Demonstration

Project Summary

The primary goal of this project is to green the Carrizo Plain through reforestation. It may be impossible to create an abundant food forest due to the salted landscape dominated by Soda Lake and extreme weather conditions, however it is desired to at least be able to support around a 10% fruit/nut tree population.

Project Description

The Carrizo Plain is characterized by cold winters, hot dry summers, intense sunshine, extremely alkaline soil salted with sodium carbonates and sodium nitrates, ground water only 8 to 12 feet below the surface but briney down to 300+ feet below surface. Additional hurdles include a nearly unstoppable pest population consisting of jackrabbits, gophers, ground squirrels, jackalopes and kangaroo rats who seem hell bent on destroying any sign of life.

I've only been working on this project for a year on weekends and with a tight budget. I've made a kazillion errors along the way so I'm learning as I go. Did you know that jackrabbits love to eat Pine and Cypress trees? Well, they do!

Where things lay now, which is November 2011, is I have planted 43 trees (that are still alive, there were others planted that died). I picked the initial pioneering trees focusing on what I knew would likely work in a zero-irrigation drought like environment. For these reasons I picked Arizona Cypress, Afghan Pine, Mimosa, Cassia, Honey Locust and a variety of White Ash that is drought tolerant.

The soil is dominated by clay and salted to the point that if you break the soil into dust, then get it wet, it will turn into hard pan clay when it dries.  There are good areas and bad areas of soil, the good areas still being salted, but the soil has signs of life and is pliable.

I have reserved the good soil areas as areas to plant trees without any earthworks. The hard pan clay areas which include two seasonal ponds will have earthworks, but only after I have observed and experimented with how to preserve the ponds and actually increase their longevity until the summer time if possible, so the frogs can reach maturity.

As I have planted each tree, I have also provided a very thick layer of bark mulch.  This has really helped keep irrigation requirements down to a minimum which is a real benefit because irrigation water has to be hauled in.  As trees are planted, they receive irrigation until they root and take hold and show signs of growth.  Also, each of the trees have received gopher and jackrabbit protection. For gophers the rootballs have been protected in 3/4" aviary wire the holes being too small for a gopher to pass through. Jackrabbit protection involves the use of 4-5 inch white drainage pipe as sleeves around the tree trunks. There is an additional benefit of protection from the intense sun and lowered temperatures at the only exposed areas of soil directly around the trunks.

Additionally, I am experimenting with the Groasis Waterboxx so I can raise trees by seed without irrigation. I've had a couple of mistakes on that already. I'm having a difficulty keeping the gophers out from below. I have the top part protected well now but I'm going to have to figure out a good method for gopher protection. At the moment I'm considering trenching an area larger than the Waterboxx, then lowering down into the trench 1/2" welded wire however I am discouraged from this due to the expense involved and the damage to the soil in the trenched areas.


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