By PAUL WHEATON

Mount Sentinel: the lushest farmland in all of Montana.

Permaculture can do that. Without pesticides. Without fertilizers.
Without irrigation. It really isn’t all that hard. Just different.

I’ve been showing videos at the library of a guy that has done something really similar. On a mountainside in the Alps of Austria. His elevation is about 400 feet higher than Missoula and his latitude is almost identical to Arlee. The Austrian’s name is Sepp Holzer.

Imagine the face of Mount Sentinel being utterly thick with treesFruit trees. Nut trees. Every kind of tree that can grow in Montana, plus several that cannot. Sepp Holzer grows citrus trees. Can you imagine growing citrus in Missoula?

Here is a short video that gives you a quick taste of what is possible.

So, imagine 70 ponds scattered over the face of Mount Sentinel. PigscattlechickensGrain crops.

That short video is just a tiny taste of what I’ll be showing at the library on Thursday, June 16th at 6:30. I did my advanced permaculture training under Sepp Holzer. So I’ll be hosting a Q&A as part of the event.

One of the key components to Sepp’s success is huglekultur. Soil piled on top of six feet of woody debris. In a few years, that wood breaks down enough to become a big sponge – holding the enough water from the winter to keep the most water thirsty plants happy through the summer.

Here is an example of a hugelkultur bed being built last summer in Missoula.

And here is Mark Vander Meer, of Missoula, talking about something he has that is very similar to hugelkultur – look at how lush that is!

Here is a pile of sod that has had some tomato plants stuck in at, and then went all summer without any irrigation. And this was a summer drier than a typical Missoula summer!

In slightly similar news, I was part of a group that was asked how to wrestle with the problems of invasive weeds on the face of Mount Sentinel. My answer was trees. Trees trump knapweed and nearly every other invasive plant that we are struggling with. Without pulling or herbicides. Easy Peasy!

For more from Paul and other local bloggers visit www.makeitmissoula.com

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