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New, Can you grow an acre of food for Market NOT irrigating? What can you do about watering?

 
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My title says it all.

We are considering turning an acre of land into food production for income (farming!) but we'd rather not irrigate. What can you do instead? Runoff water/greywater? Catch water/rainbarrel? I'm just wondering what cna water our feilds if we are growing a lot.

Any advice helpful!

Samantha
 
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Samantha Disch wrote:My title says it all.

We are considering turning an acre of land into food production for income (farming!) but we'd rather not irrigate. What can you do instead? Runoff water/greywater? Catch water/rainbarrel? I'm just wondering what cna water our feilds if we are growing a lot.

Any advice helpful!

Samantha



The Mayans / Aztecs did human sacrifices to insure adequate rain, but that is generally frowned upon these days.
So, you are pretty much left to using whatever rain you get.

You mentioned catching and storing rainwater but, eventually you will have to put it on the crops, which is irrigation.

So if it strictly NO IRRIGATION, then you have to depend on catching rain directly in the soil and making it stay there as
long as possible. This generally is accomplished with organic material in the soil- humus. Also ground cover/mulching
will help keep the moisture as long as possible.



 
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Can you give some details about your location, annual rainfall, etc?

 
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Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
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Using water from tanks or greywater is technically irrigating. Spacing plants farther apart will reduce water competition, which books have been written on. Deep rooted trees which provide dappled shade and windbreak will also help conserve water. No way to predict the rainfall for a season, so if its dry most crops will be stunted or die, with very few exceptions. Even if its not that dry sometimes irrigation can make the difference between a salable crop or a bunch of munched leaves. Drip irrigation can be fully automated (even auto adjusted for rainfall and evaporation rates) and is efficient. lawl
 
Tyler Ludens
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Also depends on what you want to grow. Some food plants take less water, some more. If you're growing Nopales (Prickly Pear pads) for sale, you probably won't need to worry much about irrigation. But regular vegetables like plenty of water; I think the usual recommendation is an inch a week. This can probably be reduced considerably if you improve the soil a lot.

My favorite resource for rainwater harvesting is: http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

 
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I live in Kansas. Rainfall in the spring and early summer is about an inch a week, and midsummer to fall is about an inch every two week. That is enough water for the clay soil in my backyard, but not really enough water for the sandy soil I own outside of town. Adding compost to sandy soil helps to retain water, but even so sandy soil needs more water (or at least it needs it more often)!

On the sandy soil I have established asparagus, though the yield is lower than it would be on clay. Young American Plum trees are healthy and the daffodills are really thriving!

Every other plant I have put on sandy, unirrigated soil has died. One inch a week is not enough for sandy soil, even though it is enough for the clay soil in my backyard. I think that if we got rain twice a week instead of once a week that the sandy soil would be fine for growing without irrigation.

Samantha, can you tell us where you are and what soil type you have? It matters.
 
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Have you seen 'Back to Eden' yet? Paul, the gardener in the film, does not water (99% of the time) but relies exclusively on mulch to retain moisture. I've seen this garden in person and tasted the wonderful produce...it really works. When he does have to water is if the ground beneath the mulch is very dry at planting time and then he waters only long enough to get the seeds up. Once they are sprouted he does not water.

www.backtoedenfilm.com

The film is free to watch online.

Galen
 
Tyler Ludens
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Where does Back to Eden guy live?

 
Galen Gallimore
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Paul Gautschi lives in Sequim, WA. You might be tempted to think of Western Washington as very wet, but Sequim is actually in the rainshadow of the Olympic peninsula and receives about 15" of rainfall a year with a VERY dry summer (the Hoh Rain Forest, right next door, receives 15 FEET of rain per year by comparison). His soil was clay and rock and the mulch begins the work of transforming it into rich garden soil very quickly.

Galen
 
Tyler Ludens
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15" of rain at 48 degrees north latitude is very different from 15" down here at 30 degrees!

 
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