Local ecosystem restoration & enhancement

Jun 8, 2012
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Well, to start off this lengthy thread I'll explain the scenario I have to work with.

I have recently attained 12 acres of property on southwestern Montana. The previous owner leased the majority of his property annually to ranchers who would use it for pasture. One would normally assume the cows would fertilized the property but exactly the opposite happened, there are now sandy spots with very little plant matter growing out of it(Pasture was over grazed and desertification has set in on some areas). The property also has a creek with two beaver ponds running through the middle of it. About 1.5-2 acres are lawn. I've noticed the whole entire property is infested with "Centaurea pullata" also know as knapp weed (except the immediate area around the creek and ponds). Plenty of old trees: Douglas Fir and Quaken Aspen as well as one RedWood. The majority of the Aspen are in a long un-managed fenced tree nursery which has a large amount of organic humus in the soil (1+ foot deep.) You litterally sink as you step in it.
List of Bad Things:
Pasture is overgrazed "Sandy Spots"
Infested with knapp weed
not a large list but, these issues are seriouse....

List of organic materials on the property:
Lawn trimmings
Humus from the Tree nursery
Cow patties :)
Silt from the creek and ponds
Chicken Manure (I plan to get a dozen hens)
Things to do before the end of summer:
Innoculate the lawn with Azosparillum which is a bacteria that takes nitrogen out of the air and fixes it to the soil when ever the area gets moisture. This will promote faster grass growth which in turn will produce even more organic matter which I'll use later on. Let us not forget it will also make the the Knapp weed grow more vigorous and will make it produce more seed.

Mow the lawn 3-4 times over the summer to accumulate a bulk of grass trimmings. The trimmings will the put in a large drum and then will be multched even finer with a weed whacker and then placed into a pile to ferment and decay a bit while covered with a tarp to keep it from blowing away. (Great source of potential humus, carbon, nitrogen and, other trace minerals.

Harvest seed from the variouse native grasses and other plants while taking care not to over harvest and cause further ecological stress.

Put a bounty of 1-2 cents per plant on the knapp weed. I plan to have the younger generation of the family yank em up starting here in about a day or so and again in late summer. The knapp weed will be burned thoroughly and the ash will be stored for later use. (Good source of carbon and potassium as well as minute amount of trace metals)

Harvest 30 gallons of silt from the ponds. Simple

Harvest about 1 ton of humus from the tree nursery while taking care not to over harvest and upset the tiny fenced in ecosystem and then letting it dry.

Take as manny cuttings of the aspen, rassberry bushes and, other native bushes as I can fit in my green house.

Harvest the chicken manure an put it in a pile. Simply :)

At this point, by fall before the snow falls, I will have accumulated all the organic materials necessary to fix the overgrazed pastures as well as enhance the healthier parts of the property.

Plan for fixing the overgrazed pastures:

Taking all the materials that have been harvested, created and gathered, apply an all purpose microbial innoculant "such as FoxFarms Kangaroots" and mix it all throughly and place it in a wagon* and distribute it evenly over the property using a straw blower.

This should be a good start for putting the bulk of organic material back where it need to be, restore the soil food web (if you dont know what the soil food web is just google it). This should help the ground keep moisture and prep the area for the seeds that are mixed into the concoction to get a healthy start next spring.

Then the snow falls.

List of things to do in the winter:

Care for my worm bin.
Build a very large compost tea brewer About 100 gallon system.

The snow thaws.

Now that the snow has thawed, the seed should now begin to grow. Taking not of the trees and shrubs that I took cutting of earlier last summer now is the time to plant them as well as setting up some chicken wire fencing to keep the animals from eating them next winter.

You;ve got to take note of where each type of tree likes to grow. Aspen likes to grow where the mountain runoff flows, in the little slopes between the hills, as do the rassberries. The native apples like the open pasture land where they can get most sunlight. (They produce bulks of fruit which if not harvested and let to go to ground produce phenomenal amounts of humus) and enrich the soil around them. ..........ect, ect.

The whole purpose of planting these deciduous trees and bushes is that when they get old enough and their roots grow deep enough, they can pull minerals from the deeper parts of the earth and use some of it to to make their leaves and fruits. When the leaves and friut fall off in the fall, the minerals that where once deep in the ground and inaccessible to the smaller forms of vegatation on the surface, now become availalable once the litter decomposes. However, that can take years (usually 5-7 years) for those trees to get that old.

While your planting the trees and other what not stuff it is time to start brewing and spraying the compost tea made from the worm castings all over the property for this will super chage the soil food web and help all the new seedlings grow faster and more vigorously and ultimatly produce an even larger bulk of seed than was harvested the last summer. This is very important!!!!!

So, when late summer comes around you would pretty much repeat the process of gathering the knapp weed, buring it, harvesting the seed (be careful as to not over harvest the seed), gather silt, accumulate large amounts of decompose finly multched lawn trimmings, and all that. Them simply reboradcast the material densly over the areas that still need it and broadcast it lightly over the other areas that dont need it, it wont hurt anyhting.

Well after two hours of typing im faily spent. I know, I notice the typos and the I and you stuff. I'll update and organize the information in a couple of days.

All in all, im open to input and feedback. Feel free to comment.



Mar 27, 2012
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Arlington, Wa.
Appears to me you have a heap of stuff going on there. Makes me tired just thinking about it all. All in all it's quite interesting how it's all done. I've heard of the worm bins and the compost derived from their castings and that it is quite the thing in gardening now. And well composted chicken manure is all the rave too. I sure don't have a farm just a small acre of land but fun to care for just the same. Hope you have much success on all your plantings and harvesting.

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