The Design Site

Pre-swales site

Here is a rundown of the site’s basic information as it stands now:

 Size: 1.25 Acres

Latitude/Longitude: 34.1269° N, 116.3186° W

Altitude: 2,700 ft. (822.9 meters) above sea level

Slope/Aspect: Very Gentle Slope, S, SE,  (and small area of SW)

Continental Effect: 115 miles from the west coast of California

Climate: Arid desert

Plant Hardiness Zone: 9a

Koppen Classification: BWh

Soil: Coarse decomposed granite sand with very little organic matter and very little clay.

pH: 6 (I feel mistrusting of this reading and am planning to get a better pH test kit to be sure).

Avg. days above 90F(32c): 150

Avg. days Below 32F(0c): 28

First/ Last Frost: 11/3, 4/4

Wind: Hard winds from S, and SW in spring and fall. Cold winds from N in winter. Light breezes from E and SE in summer

Rainfall: Very rare! 4.6 inches (116.8 mm) per year average. The wettest months of the year are in mid-winter and mid-summer (monsoon thunderstorms).

Structures: There are three existing structures:

-House ( 858 square foot wood/drywall)

-Office (120 square foot, wood/drywall)

-Shed/Carport (wood, at west end of property)

Significant Trees and Shrubs: 1 mature Honey Mesquite, 2 mature Palos Verdes, 1 mature fruitless mulberry shade tree, 1 40 year old female pistachio tree, 2 young male Pistachios, 1 young female Pistachio tree, 2 young apricot trees, 1 Asian pear tree, 3 Jujube trees, 1 young (possibly fruitless?) olive tree and several Pomegranite shrubs.

Natives: 3 mature Joshua Trees, 5 large mature Yucca Plants, numerous Creosote Bushes, Mormon Tea shrubs, White Bur-sage, Button Brittle Bush, Beavertail Cacti, Pencil Cacti and Silver Cholla plants.



Here is a Picture of where our site is in relation to the rest of southern California:SoCal

You can see from the satellite image how dry this place is. Note the rainshadow effect created by The San Bernardino Mountains to the west of us. The only similar climate analog I’ve been able to find on earth with the same latitude, proximity to the west coast of a large land mass, similar altitude and rain shadow effect is Damascus, Syria.

The Experiment

My family and I are beginning an experiment on our little piece of Mojave Desert land to see if it is possible, through permaculture, to create a hardy and resilient living system around us, which can begin to provide for our needs more and more, and radicallly reduce our need for inputs from outside our local Joshua Tree area. Beyond this, we hope to see if it is possible to eventually begin to yield enough of a surplus of food, products and information from the system to begin to be able to contribute to the growth of a truly local food culture and economy here. The daunting, yet exciting challenge is to move toward these aims in ways that work within natural limits of this extremely arid ecosystem, always with an eye towards the welfare of future generations of life on this planet, and in keeping with the ethics of permaculture. Our intention is to chronicle the adventure here, for the benefit of the global permaculture community, and specifically those working in arid desert climates.

(Illustration revised January 2015)

(Illustration revised January 2015)