Have you areas that are doing better than other areas and why? Are you irrigating to try to save areas that are really suffering, or not? Have you actually LOST completely any of your crops to the drought itself, even full grown older trees from the stress ? Is it just the drought in your area or do you also have record heat this year? etc.
Here at our homestead we have both record drought and record heat and it has gone on for an extended length of time with smaller less serious droughts off and on for the last several years to extreme drought and extreme heat this year. We have had 90's and 100's now for most of the last 2 months with very very little rain.
I have begun to plan for drought over the past few years since it has become a more and more significant problem year by year cumulating with the worst we have ever seen this year...but I wasn't prepared well enough.
We have a very high water table area (historically) so we have some areas that the trees and plants are still able to reach deep enough to get the groundwater that is still there, unlike some places where even the ground water is drying up. We are blessed in that way ..so far.
We are using very very limited amounts of irrigation (i have a drip system in the greenhouse and one in a small garden area in the rear where I turn on the drip hose a couple times a week, but try not to use too much water in that way )...need to get a rain barrel set up. I also have a pond that collects water to keep it from leaving our property, but do not have a system to pump water from it to irrigate at this time. The water level on the pond is maintained by rain, snow a little spring seep and groundwater but has no flowing water to it at this time, that is a hope for the future.
The higher areas of our property are barely 4 to 5' higher than the lower areas ..and we lost several large trees from our property (and their shade) due to emerald ash borers, and we are having 90's and 100's as highs most days this year, so the loss of shade, rain and the extreme heat is burning up the plants in the higher areas of the property, esp on the south sides of the buildings. Our lawn is mown meadow rather than lawn grasses so to speak, and even the weediest plants are dying in the hottest dryest areas.
The weed growth has been somewhat stunted which eliminates a lot of the mulch plants that we would normally have..but I have been attempting to provide shade as much as I can around the property, and where there is shade, the growth is much more healthy. The areas where I have been able to mainitain a mulch also are much more healthy, where the mulch has been used up or disappeared, things are burning up.
Also we have done some minor hugel beds (dug out the soil, buried some wood mostly aspen and ash, or bark, and then added the soil back to the top) and where these beds are there is much more green and less drought die back. This has convinced me of more and more need for burying wood in my beds. I haven't had the strength to build large hugel beds, but I'm sure they would work even better.
I also have used a limited amount of stone on the property in the beds, and where there is the stone it does seem to be helping a lot..but as our property has very little indiginous stone, we have to haul it in which is impossible right now with our truck not working.
Also looking at the type of plants that have done well. First of all this year we had frosts and freezes right up until June 13 (our last frost this year) so we lost all the blossoms on our fruit and nut trees and shrubs, so basically no fruit other than a few berries. The bears, deer and other animals cannot get any food from fruit in the wild because of the weather, so we are allowing them to glean a lot of the food from our gardens this year, it is pretty dry and seedy anyway although we have gone out and picked the nicer of the berries before the bear could get to the ones we left. Usually they clean up our fruit falls anyway, but we are being a bit more generous to them this year so they don't starve. I also dug up and replanted about 2 dozen wheelborrow loads of jerusalem artichokes out into the woods and fields for the wildlife, to help sustain them, as we had them to spare after giving many away to friends and neighbors.
The roses did really well for a while, but now they are even succumbing to the heat. The grapes seemed to do well for quite a while too, but are having some difficulty now. The berries in the shade are doing much much better than those out in the full sun (note to self, plant berries in shade). The tomato and pepper plants are having a hay day !! The lettuce bolted early as did most of the other greens.
The wild lambsquarters are growing really well (note to self, lambsquarter seed must be saved for next year). Also the jerusalem artichokes are a bit smaller than normal ..and the deer are pruning them..but they are growing well, they like this weather as do the other members of the sunflower family. Daylillies are doing wonderful and iris were quite nice this spring, so those plants with roots that hold moisture seem to enjoy the heat and drought.
The type of plants that generally grow in meadows and along side the roadways are doing excellently this year (chicory, knapweed, black eyed susan, daisy, mallow, etc.) but the generally cultivated foods are suffering some. I seem to be noticing that the squash plants are doing well (other than the squash bugs)..and in the wetter areas the field corn is growing well, but up on the hills it is dying. We have several trees that are drooping and dropping leaves or turning fall color early already. Beans are doing very little and peas were not good, will put in a fall crop if we get rain.
Speaking of fall crop, we are hoping for a long drawl out fall this year, so if that is the case we might be able to replant our gardens and get some crops yet this fall, that is the plan here, might even have to order more OP seed (didn't even get enough for saving seed of most plants)..oats and barley were really crappy. Potatoes seem to be doing ok and the beets that made it are doing well...so root crops seem to enjoy the weather, but carrots, salsify and parsnips didn't grow though...or turnips.
ok...tell me how you are faring.
The one test bed that I have running down along a fence line is doing great. During our recent 113 degree day some small bell pepper plants, that have never been watered, looked just fine. Only two days later did they show any sign of stress. So I watered them twice and have not watered them since. That is pretty outstanding in my book. The soil is cool and moist when I dig my hand down into the bed.
Other areas I can dig down a foot and it is still dry.
So now, watching my buried hugel bed in it's second year, I am convinced that every single bed must be hugel. I have started the process of digging up and burying wood in every planting area. I am burying wood rather than building tall mounds just because I don't have the means to build the big mounds.
Down here in North Florida, average annual rainfall is 52 inches. Not counting the 18 inches from last month's tropical storm, we've received about 28 inches in the last 2 years. Officially, the drought is over down here, but we've had less than 1/4" of rain since the big storm. The grass is green again for now, but I fear it won't last with this sandy soil. A week after the storm I was out there with the hose watering the garden.
An interesting aspect of drought is the lack of natural decay. The normal cycle sees leaves fall to the ground followed by decomposition within a couple of years. The leaf layer continuously adds nutrients to the soil. Without the moisture provided by regular rain, these leaves are building up. It's 6 inches deep in the woods out back! With the deep mulch and little rain, plus reduced fertility, the weeds are having a tough time of it. The tree lines are not a lush wall of vegetation. The advantage is found in the leaves being easier to gather. The drought is resulting in nutrients being kept in storage above ground. When the rains resume, the duff layer will begin to decay, giving up all those nutrients. I'd expect fantastic growth once things get going again.
Shade helps tremendously. Even though my kitchen garden is surrounded by trees and gets morning and afternoon shade, shade in the middle of the day would be nice. I have some young apple trees in the garden which should eventually provide dappled shade.
The creek may be dry, but the well established asparagus next to it looks healthy. It has had time to send down deep roots to where the water is.
Daffodils are happily dormant. They should be fine.
I am now carrying water oncce a week to the apricot and a few of the American Plums. They are too young to have deep roots and I do not wish to lose them.
Some of the wildflowers have died, but the ironweed looks very happy indeed!
It has been in the 90's to low 100's here all month..a few 80's days but mostly 90's..that is highly unusual for Michigan. We got some sprinkles this week, but they were like you said, barely hitting the ground and didn't even settle the dust.
when I dig potatoes this fall i'm burying wood in all the beds where the taters are, at least..maybe more of them..I lent out my gaia's garden books but wish I had them so I could re read the drought info..to get more ideas of what I need to do.
now there is coming only a little amount of water once in a week, and i manage to water some young trees by hand as well as the little treee nursery. However the best results are in the Paul Gautschi area, its giving a lot of food with little amount of water. next year i will expand the Paul Gautschi area... is the one that works best with little care and little water
To Know Ya " " Dusty old dust has taken my home , and I've got to keep moving along " So swales and berms seem to be the key for both cycles here and if things get worse too . Some day I hope to have something worth while to post under " My Projects " . I plan on coping with a bit of desertification here in ways that will also tolerate floods - anyone with plant species that tolerate both in zone 6b.
But our area is supposed to be a wet area, and this is so hard on everything.
I too am going to be doing a heck of a lot more studying on the greening the desert info than I did in the past..read thru but didn't pay enough attention to it..and wish I had. So glad I've done the little I have toward that end but really wish I had done more.
I also have been thinking about not only the drought and heat but also my age (61) and trying to also plan things closer to the house for the age reasons..and thinking also it would be a lot easier to throw a bucket of water on something within 40 ' of the house (most of our gardens are more like 200' from the house)..guess I didn't pay enough attention to the permaculture zone system when I planned that did I.
going to turn the farther gardens over to permanent low water need plants and re do an area closer to the house for the higher water need plants so that I can care better for them in t he future..I'm thinking of an area in a lower spot near the pond for some more annual vegetation and maybe a couple of peach trees (which I have planned on buying)..so I think this fall I'll be planning a new raised bed hugel type area near the pond within 40' of the house and have that ready for next year's planting...we have a huge pile of old nearly rotted aspen logs in firewood lengths that would be a good base for a hugel bed and it would only require about 30' of hauling it to get it into a new bed..just need to fiture out where to get the soil for the top of the beds and some mulch and I'll get those going for next spring or maybe if I'm fast enough a fall crop.
http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/beekeeping (Permaculture Drylands Magazine, not beekeeping!)
I'm sure I've forgotten a bunch!
This is my first year with a hugelkultur berm, just started in May. It's above ground, and not very tall, but runs along the line where rain comes off the barn roof before heading downslope to the creek. I ran out of energy and didn't get all the sod turned under properly, nor enough dirt/mulch put on top, and like a dunce, I planted water-loving winter squash on it. I do have to water more than I'd like, because the logs are far from rotting and holding water, and rainfall has been scant.
Nonetheless, I shall harvest a few winter squash from the berm, and come fall and the demise of the squash vines, I'll add more mulch and soil so it will have better water retention next year no matter what I plant on it. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to cover the grass on it that didn't get turned upside down, either with cardboard or newspapers, before adding mulch and dirt. Fortunately, it's not the entire berm!
Here's the base of the berm. The logs were covered with about a foot of small stuff, then sod, then what dirt I could scavenge. I'll have to hunt for a photo of the squash growing on it, or take another photo to post later.
I was also considering that maybe getting a little water on something today so that the soil is more receptive to the rain tomorrow afternoon might not be a bad idea..to soften the crust??
there is still hope for the blackberries and the elderberries and saving the trees and shrubs if we get rain.
the long term forcast is for a hot august, cooler than normal Sept and hot october..but they say the drought is supposed to continue in most areas through the winter.
kent smith wrote: I keep reading about the failed crops in the mid west and we are trying to stock up on things that could be effected. I wonder if livestock and meat prices will raise drastically. This should be good for the local farmers around here since most of the traditional farms here seem to have health corn and soy bean crops in the fields.
Stacy Zoozwick wrote: On the other hand I am having to sell 2 goats and both of my horses. I am very upset about his. We have such a huge hay & grain shortage I just can’t afford the soon to be 8-10$ a bail. There are small hoppy farmers and homesteaders losing everything around here. Every farmer I talk to only got 1st crop of hay & that was half the yield it should have been. I foresee many food shortages in our area not to machine the livestock loss.
I read an interesting article on the Guardian website about the effect of the drought on global food prices including meat. Apparently meat prices will drop in the short term in response to feed prices and then spike once the excess of meat has been consumed. Can read it here.
My parents will be here visiting this next week so I'll get to hear all about the garden in more detail. But from what they've been telling me, even in semi-drought conditions (strange location in NC, we seem to be in some kind of drought pocket), the garden is doing very well.
Here in Helsinki its been cold and wet all summer. Light rains off and on for a month with temps just beginning to reach 20C (68F) with any regularity. I don't have a garden here yet so I can't attest to anything we've been doing.
Thanks for starting this thread Brenda. I'd like to hear more stories- especially from folks who have been implementing their permaculture designs for more than a few years. I'm sure there are successes out there. At the very least permacultralists can rest assured that they are learning from the drought. That they are experimenting and challenging themselves in their designs, unlike most gardeners who probably won't change a thing for the next year.
Good luck out there!
I'm actually surprised by all the rainfall... it was dry this spring, then a big tropical storm, and now lots of regular rain. It's not that way in all the state, however. Some areas are still getting lower rainfall than average.
we got 3 to 3 1/2 inches of rain overnight and this morning, but it isn't really enough to make a dent in the drought. We are down a good 2 feet from our normal water table. There is a little more rain in the forcast for tomorrow though so maybe we'll get some after this soaks in good.
I am self sufficient when it comes to irrigation by which I mean all my irrigation is from harvested rainwater. I catch rain from every roof on every building and store it and then pump it to high placed tanks from which it gravity feeds to the trees and other plantings. Plus, since the ground slopes, I use extensive contour ditches to trap the running water and allow it to penetrate the ground for use by roots of nearby plantings. Plus a lot of mulching - first newspapers and then well decomposed (>1 year old) wood chips.
Everything is holding up well though, if I had irrigated more (used well water) my fruit trees would have done better. But on principle I wish to be self sustainable and also I do not wish to deplete the reservoirs which feed my well. Drilling a new well is costly and I would rather my neighbors, who also use wells but do not plant much, do not blame me if/when the wells run dry. If you are interested you can see details at my website.