• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • Kate Downham

Recommendations for short season, heat and drought tolerant crops, please

 
pollinator
Posts: 531
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
112
forest garden tiny house books
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a challenging microclimate.

The weather station just north of us in our north-south valley shows 154 frost free days. The weather station just south of us shows 169. Judging by the few years we've been here, I'd say we can count on about 85 frost free days. Our elevation isn't even all that different. It's driving me nuts.

We get little to no spring. It goes from too cold for anything to grow to 30°+ so fast.

We often get an early frost or two (garden was unexpectedly wiped out by frost last night) and then get another month or more of nice weather (forecast for the next week is for 30°+ with overnight lows of 8-10°.

That's not limiting enough for me, so I also rely only on rainfall to water my plants. Most years we get two months without or nearly without rain, sometimes more.

So far, the only crops I know 100% will work out are rye and field peas.  Both crops can be planted in the fall to either overwinter or come up as soon as possible in the spring, and both will dry down during the summer drought. Oh, and radishes - but only the seed pods develop. Those plant themselves.

Winter squash is something I've been working on, so I'll say it's 90% reliable under my restrictions. This surprise frost may have ruined them for storage this year :(

Potatoes may be reliable, but this is only my second year here growing them.  Last year was pretty good.

This fall I'm going to try out some other fall planted grains, cause rye really isn't my favourite. I've found early spring rainfall here is too unpredictable for spring planted grain.

I'm trying out some tepary beans next year. I've found beans hard to grow because they don't germinate well in cold soil. If I leave the mulch off to warm up the soil early the soil dries out, meaning the plants grow but they don't produce seeds. Keep the mulch on and plant later in the season and that shortens the season even more. Sometimes the young plants just fry in the sun, too.

I've been trying to get tomatoes I can direct seed. This year I got a few to ripen starting in the last week of August. I had a nice big bowlful I was planning on harvesting after work today, but I suspect they're now mush.

Part of my problem is that I've been using seed from when I lived in a less hostile climate. Those varieties just aren't suited to my new location, and improving them through seed selection is hard going. I'm now buying varieties with words like arctic and Manitoba in the name.

TL;DR Long story short, what are some varieties that will germinate in cold soil, withstand heat and drought, and produce in a very short season. Bonus points for calorie crops and leafy greens.

I don't need recommendations for tree crops at this time. The gophers and I are negotiating on that.

Thanks for any suggestions!

 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 1886
Location: mountains of Tennessee
733
cattle hugelkultur cat dog trees hunting chicken bee homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Turnips maybe? I was going to suggest blackeye peas & okra but those aren't happy with cool soil. Swiss chard might work, especially if you can germinate them in a cold frame or greenhouse first.
 
Jan White
pollinator
Posts: 531
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
112
forest garden tiny house books
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Huh. I always assumed okra was super long season. I just looked it up and found I was very wrong. I've never eaten it or heard of anyone around here growing it, but now I'm curious. I may try it out.

I think I may have some black eyed peas kicking around in my seed hoard now that you mention it. Won't hurt to try.

Turnips are a good suggestion. I don't think I like them much, but it's been a while so I should try them out again.

I try to eat low oxalate greens because I don't absorb iron well, so I've avoided Swiss chard up until now. It's also a good suggestion, though. It's got a big root, so would probably withstand drought better than most greens.  We have a short season, but it's not super cold over the winter and we get good snow cover, so swiss chard would probably overwinter most years.

Thanks, Mike!
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 1886
Location: mountains of Tennessee
733
cattle hugelkultur cat dog trees hunting chicken bee homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Swiss chard tolerates the heat & drought rather well. If it withers in a drought it revives quickly after some rain. Mine usually survive winter too. Kales do better in the cold but suffer in heat.

Buckwheat might work for you too. Doesn't tolerate much cold but it grows very fast. About six weeks from planting until harvest.
 
Posts: 19
Location: Northern Arizona, 7300'
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I may have missed when you usually get rain, but your climate sounds a bit similar to mine. I was also plagued with hot days and cold nights all summer, which few plants do well in.

I second the turnip recommendation, and would also add beets, onions, and potatoes to your list. The onions may eventually bolt if they don't get enough water. If you have enough water to grow tomato plants, then these should work. I've also had success with wheat, which just thrived in oppressive heat and just a few rain events.

I also *highly* recommend shade cloth for leafy greens if you're in an area that gets a lot of sun. I use 30% shade cloth (i'm at a high elevation too, so the sun is extra intense) and helps immensely, especially when the plants are young.

 
Jan White
pollinator
Posts: 531
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
112
forest garden tiny house books
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mike Barkley wrote:
Buckwheat might work for you too. Doesn't tolerate much cold but it grows very fast. About six weeks from planting until harvest.



I tried buckwheat this year and it turns out it doesn't like drought.  It grew pretty well, flowered, formed seeds. Most of the seedpods are empty, though. Thats what often happens to my beans.  Just needs more water than I gets here :(
 
Jan White
pollinator
Posts: 531
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
112
forest garden tiny house books
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Melissa Sullivan wrote:I may have missed when you usually get rain, but your climate sounds a bit similar to mine. I was also plagued with hot days and cold nights all summer, which few plants do well in.

I second the turnip recommendation, and would also add beets, onions, and potatoes to your list. The onions may eventually bolt if they don't get enough water. If you have enough water to grow tomato plants, then these should work. I've also had success with wheat, which just thrived in oppressive heat and just a few rain events.

I also *highly* recommend shade cloth for leafy greens if you're in an area that gets a lot of sun. I use 30% shade cloth (i'm at a high elevation too, so the sun is extra intense) and helps immensely, especially when the plants are young.



March and April have tended to be pretty dry the last few years. May is often wet. The first half of June is almost always wet, and the second half can go either way. July and August are dry and hot. September starts getting variable. This year it's hot and dry so far, except for the one frost.  

Our summer nights tend to be warm, actually. So at least I don't have to contend with your cold night problem!

I've found tomatoes need way less water than most people give them. I grow them in sandy soil with very little organic matter. As long as I keep the roots cool with mulch, a couple months of drought is okay for every variety I've grown. I'm sure they'd do better with more water, but they'll survive and produce.

I grow walking onions and chives just fine. If I can ever find any in Canada, I'd like to try out potato onions. We eat very few onions, so I like the idea of small, long storing onions for our occasional use.

I'll try out beets along with turnips next year. For some reason, I have a feeling beets won't like it at my place, but we'll see.

You're right, wheat would be great! I don't eat it, but my husband does. It's one of the grains I'm trying out this fall. I couldn't find winter barley or oats, which I do eat, but I'll get some for next fall when it's back in stock. I've tried spring planted barley and oats a few times now and germination is just not good enough.

I really hate the idea of faffing around with shade cloth, but it may come to that. I've had good results planting snow peas into the tangle of straw stalks left after harvesting grain in the summer. I may try to use the shade of other plants more.

Thanks for more great suggestions!
 
pollinator
Posts: 3110
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
312
forest garden solar
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The spinach family does well in the dry summer: calaloo, swiss chard, beet tops, lambquaters etc.
Mustard green, garlic mustard and daikon radish does well in the summer
Other in the cabbage family overwinters well in your winter: kale, collard, and other leafy vegetables.
Micro-greens/baby greens are always an option too
The chive do well into the summer, others in the onion family go dormant in August.
In the legume family these ones do well: Lima beans, Pole beans, Cowpeas, black-eyed peas and field peas
Most herbs in mint/thyme family and the cilantro/carrot family
In the squash family: Black Diamond watermelon, summer squash
The sunflower family does well too, seeds, tubers and leaves
Heatwave II tomatoes do well, others might require a bit more help, you can give peppers a try too, but they are usually more picky than tomatoes though
Honey is also a 'crop' that you could look into.
 
Jan White
pollinator
Posts: 531
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
112
forest garden tiny house books
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
S Benji, I love your lists! I do successfully grow quite a few of the ones on your list.

Thanks for the recommendation of the specific tomato variety. If you've grown heatwave ii, do you have an opinion in its flavour? I read on one site a few people didn't think much of it. I like that it has such a short days to maturity, something I assumed heat tolerant tomatoes generally wouldn't have.
 
S Bengi
pollinator
Posts: 3110
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
312
forest garden solar
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
They more or less come true from seed, so you can create your own landrace if you save seeds for a few years. But while they are not going to win the county fair, they are still slightly better than store bought (a 7/10 vs a 6/10). Which to me is good enough, and then they will back cross with whatever seedlings show up from your compost.
 
Jan White
pollinator
Posts: 531
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
112
forest garden tiny house books
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

S Bengi wrote:They more or less come true from seed, so you can create your own landrace if you save seeds for a few years. But while they are not going to win the county fair, they are still slightly better than store bought (a 7/10 vs a 6/10). Which to me is good enough, and then they will back cross with whatever seedlings show up from your compost.



I have plenty of great tasting tomatoes to cross them with.

Good information. Thank you!
 
I'm gonna teach you a lesson! Start by looking at this tiny ad:
2021 RMH Jamboree planning thread!
https://permies.com/wiki/148835/permaculture-projects/RMH-Jamboree-planning-thread
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic