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Protecting plants from the rainy season

 
pollinator
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Location: Nara, Japan
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There is a lot in permaculture about retaining water, storing it, keeping it, slowing it down. Well we get heavy rain storms and typhoons that dump 10-20 cm of rain on us in a few hours. The village as a whole is well equipped to handle the storm water, but our gardens get inundated. The rain falls faster than it can drain, pots fill up, and I feel like my plants are drowning. 



Most of them are actually fine with a short mini flood. It's the rainy season that's a problem. 

The rainy season comes in June-July and lasts for about six weeks. It rains pretty much everyday for six weeks. Some plants can't take it and start to rot where they are. The humidity is too high for too long and some plants can't breathe. Some flowers, tomatoes, bulbs had a hard time. 

In fact villagers say that the tomato season ends at the rainy season, July. I'm sorry, that is unacceptable. I must have tomatoes through to the first frost. 

I am thinking of ways to help my plants through the rainy season next year.

So far:
Planting on mounds to help drainage.
Mixing in more(I feel like there is so much already) river sand and gravel into the soil.
Temporary roof. 
Working on landraces that can handle the rainy season. 

What do you think?
Any techniques to add? 
Tips on what I've listed so far? 
 
gardener
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Okay, I lived a bit up from you (Fukushima) and our rainy season was a few weeks in June and then a few more in September, but I think rainy season is rainy season... I remember not being able to leave anything out in the kitchen overnight or you would wake up to see literal mushrooms. Then once you're done (with tsuyu in September anyway), it's typhoon season, and then lots of snow. Sort of a large downhill.
Where I was the farmers mostly focused on less finicky field crops (daikon,  hakusai, negi, kabu) and the big crops were rice and tobacco. I don`t think I ever saw a pepper, cuke or tomato grown outside of cover. I lived in an apartment, but I farmed at my pottery mentor's workshop out in the sticks. Anything we planted was sheltered under other things (stands of bamboo or roofs). We mulched like nuts to prevent erosion- had lots of pine needles and bamboo mess.
There is a youtube channel called Fukuberry ( https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fukuberry  )that has some good ideas about using tunnels in small spaces and intercropping. The more recent videos are quiet and enjoyable. Older videos they have on their site, you can search them to find tomato, for example, but my suggestion is to turn the sound off.  
http://www.fukuberry.com/
I scrolled down the left side to find the vegetable plot business and found an old tomato video.
 
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Wow that's a lot of rain.

I think the raised beds is a big plus. I suggest some big Hugelkultur beds because they will absorb some of the water and the rest will shed off.

Mulch can help some. But probably isn't enough on it's own for that much rain, unless you have a HUGE amount of mulch.

The more plants and the less bare dirt, the better.
 
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I guess it is fortunate that your rains are yearly and can be depended on, and planned for accordingly.

We had 2 years where we had a long rain season. My potatos and sweet potatos rotted in the ground. After that i created raised beds for them and the big rains didn't continue in following years.  This resulted in an excess need to water the raised beds over ground plantings. My need is for adaptability through climate extremes.
 
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konnichiwa Amy,  (hello Amy, for those who are wondering)

Monsoon like weather can really be a problem even if you have land that drains well. Your idea of mounds is similar to raised beds without the soil holding border?
From you photo (good looking plants by the way) I'd be checking into trying to set up some type of French drain setup if possible.
You need the excess water to move away from your gardens, hopefully there is a good place (stream?) to send that water so it will continue its travels to the sea.

I don't think adding sand would do you much good, unless we are talking about more than 10 sq. meters of sand.

I would try to build some standard type raised beds with a height of at least one meter to the soil level. (inside those a layer of sand around 20cm deep for drainage purposes)
With beds that tall and with the sand for better draining, you should be able to get a longer tomato harvest and all the plants would fare better over the rainy season.

If you do build raised beds, you could get some frost blanket material and build row tunnels over the raised beds, that would let you get tomatoes at least until the first frost and probably even longer.

Redhawk

(anything else you need help with or want other ideas/ opinions on?)
 
Amy Arnett
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Tereza Okava wrote:
Where I was the farmers mostly focused on less finicky field crops (daikon,  hakusai, negi, kabu) and the big crops were rice and tobacco. I don`t think I ever saw a pepper, cuke or tomato grown outside of cover. I lived in an apartment, but I farmed at my pottery mentor's workshop out in the sticks. Anything we planted was sheltered under other things (stands of bamboo or roofs). We mulched like nuts to prevent erosion- had lots of pine needles and bamboo mess.
There is a youtube channel called Fukuberry ...
http://www.fukuberry.com/
I scrolled down the left side to find the vegetable plot business and found an old tomato video.
 



Thanks Tereza! There is a lot of interesting-looking content on that website. 

I was thinking about using trees as roofs or maybe deciduous, terraced vines. It would take some years before they would be effective. 

I want to cultivate some bamboo. Most of the wild stands in the area have been destroyed by boar. I guess the bamboo was easier to keep from taking over if you were planting under it each year and probably harvesting the shoots?

I'll have to up my mulch game as well.
 
Amy Arnett
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Shawn Klassen-Koop wrote:Wow that's a lot of rain.

I think the raised beds is a big plus. I suggest some big Hugelkultur beds because they will absorb some of the water and the rest will shed off.

Mulch can help some. But probably isn't enough on it's own for that much rain, unless you have a HUGE amount of mulch.

The more plants and the less bare dirt, the better.



Thanks Shawn!

My husband is working in forestry at the moment so we have access to cedar logs and branches. But he is skeptical if they are appropriate for hugelkultur? He says the will never rot, but isn't that part of the point of hugelkultur?
 
Amy Arnett
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wayne fajkus wrote:I guess it is fortunate that your rains are yearly and can be depended on, and planned for accordingly.
We had 2 years where we had a long rain season. My potatos and sweet potatos rotted in the ground. After that i created raised beds for them and the big rains didn't continue in following years.  This resulted in an excess need to water the raised beds over ground plantings. My need is for adaptability through climate extremes.




The dependable rain and redundancy of water sources was a major factor in our choosing to settle down here. It's good problem to have for sure.
 
Amy Arnett
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:konnichiwa Amy,  (hello Amy, for those who are wondering)

Monsoon like weather can really be a problem even if you have land that drains well. Your idea of mounds is similar to raised beds without the soil holding border?
From you photo (good looking plants by the way) I'd be checking into trying to set up some type of French drain setup if possible.
You need the excess water to move away from your gardens, hopefully there is a good place (stream?) to send that water so it will continue its travels to the sea.

I don't think adding sand would do you much good, unless we are talking about more than 10 sq. meters of sand.

I would try to build some standard type raised beds with a height of at least one meter to the soil level. (inside those a layer of sand around 20cm deep for drainage purposes)
With beds that tall and with the sand for better draining, you should be able to get a longer tomato harvest and all the plants would fare better over the rainy season.

If you do build raised beds, you could get some frost blanket material and build row tunnels over the raised beds, that would let you get tomatoes at least until the first frost and probably even longer.

Redhawk

(anything else you need help with or want other ideas/ opinions on?)



Thanks Redhawk!I was thinking mounds inside/in addition to raised beds. Most farmers in the area plant on raised rows like this:



Of course the bare dirt in this picture irks me. I would plant the whole thing and throw clover seed at any open spaces. Your suggestion of a taller raised beds might be easier. We will be tearing up a house soon which should yield extra building materials. 

There is a storm drain/gutter around the perimeter, but unfortunately the gravel yard has settled in such a way that the drain wall is higher than the surrounding ground. 

It's a long way until the next rainy season, but I will post progress and questions here.
 
Tereza Okava
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Amy Arnett wrote:
I want to cultivate some bamboo. Most of the wild stands in the area have been destroyed by boar. I guess the bamboo was easier to keep from taking over if you were planting under it each year and probably harvesting the shoots?


We were surrounded by bamboo forests (back then it was full of boar! I cannot even imagine what it looks like now, when I talk to folks from back there I hear that the boars have destroyed EVERYTHING. This is just outside of the "Difficult to Return" zone and nearly everything has been abandoned), but the boar preferred to eat our strawberries instead......
But yes, to this day I harvest and eat every single bamboo shoot that I can find. It's almost automatic. We also cut a lot to use for all kinds of projects. It seemed almost infinite.
 
Shawn Klassen-Koop
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Amy Arnett wrote:My husband is working in forestry at the moment so we have access to cedar logs and branches. But he is skeptical if they are appropriate for hugelkultur? He says the will never rot, but isn't that part of the point of hugelkultur?



I would stay away from cedar in hugelkultur. They have a bit of that anti-fungal thing going on and we kinda want the fungi in the soil to thrive.
 
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