• 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 pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Leigh Tate
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • jordan barton
  • r ranson
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
gardeners:
  • Mike Barkley
  • thomas rubino
  • Beau Davidson

how do you make your garden more resilient?

 
master steward
Posts: 19029
Location: Pacific Northwest
9271
7
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 37
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's been a crazy year in the US for gardening. Places that don't get much rain are getting drenched. Places that are usually mild (like where I am) have record high temperatures (113+F or 40+C). It's crazy. Lot's of my neighbor's chickens and animals died, lots had their plants bolt or die all together. Many lost entire crops.

Sometimes, weather doesn't even play a roll. Sometimes, the year is crazy because life happens. You have a new baby, you get sick, you break your leg, you have to work overtime. There's ways to make you garden more resilient against those times, too!

On permies, we're about solutions, so this thread is about what we can do in our own gardens to make them more resilient!

Here's what first comes to my mind:

    ~ Plant perennials! These have more developed root structures and can weather more extreme weather better.

    ~ Plant in lots of different microclimates if you have them (and make those microclimates if you don't! Hugelkulture, is a great way, so are making arbors and planting tree for shade, creating a forest garden for a milder/shady climate, or making stone walls for warmer areas). I usually have snap peas all through August, when the leaves turn yellow. The heat wave turned almost all of mine yellow at the end of June. BUT, I had a weird little garden in the shade that I didn't think would do too well. Well, that garden is the only one still making peas!

    ~ Plant from seed when you can. I planted some of my tomatoes and squash under cloches. These are doing FAR BETTER than the ones I bought as transplants.

    ~ Create your own landraces! Save seeds from the plants that did the best, and plant those next year. Add diversity to your landrace so that there's genetic diversity to cope with what happens in that particular year. If you aren't up to seed saving yet, buy landraces from seed breeder or buy a few different varieties of the same plant (three types of peas, rainbow carrot mixes, etc)

    ~ Plant lots of different types of plants. Plant stuff that traditionally does well in your area, as well as stuff that does well in places a little wetter or hotter or colder or drier than your area.  That way, if you have a hot/dry year, you'll have a bumper crop from the plants that do well in that area (for me, that's cherries, peaches, mulberries, and squash), and if you have a cooler/wetter year, you'll have a bumper crop from stuff that thrives in those conditions (for me, that's blueberries, peas, kale, etc). Diversify what you're growing!

    ~ Plant low-maintenance, high-calorie stuff. For me, that's potatoes. All I've done for my potatoes is throw them on the ground and and cover them with grass clippings and duck bedding. They look fantastic and the heat didn't affect them. This freed me up to spend more time on the plants that need more help. If they don't do well, they at least didn't take a lot of my time.


I've gotta run! I hope to return to this thread with more resources for books and related threads. I know I'm missing a lot! If you find good resources, I'll add them to this first post!

Resources

Landrace Gardening:


Dealing with extreme weather:


Creating Microclimates:


General Resiliency:


Please share your tips for making a more resilient garden that can weather extreme times!
 
pioneer
Posts: 91
Location: North Texas, Zone 8a, Black Clay
6
  • Likes 20
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
With perennials I look for varieties that are hardy to a few zones lower than mine.
For annuals I plant early (2-3 weeks before the last frost date) to select for cold/frost tolerance.
I plant outside of recommended planting times. I don't baby anything I grow, I torture it and whatever survives is what I continue to grow.
Many complain about the chaotic weather of Texas, I feel lucky to have such a wide range of natural selection pressure.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 19029
Location: Pacific Northwest
9271
7
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I went out and took some pictures of of my garden to show some of the things I did this year that worked out.
20210711_131852-1-.jpg
Squash I started for seed under cloches. They haven't needed any water since they sprouted. The loved the hot weather. The peas did not
Squash I started for seed under cloches. They haven't needed any water since they sprouted. The loved the hot weather. The peas did not
20210711_131941-1-.jpg
Peas planted down in the shade. They're doing great...and so are a lot of edible weeds.
Peas planted down in the shade. They're doing great...and so are a lot of edible weeds.
20210711_132044-1-.jpg
Potatoes that sprouted in a garden bed. I threw them at the edge of my woods and put grass clippings over them. Never once watered them.
Potatoes that sprouted in a garden bed. I threw them at the edge of my woods and put grass clippings over them. Never once watered them.
 
pollinator
Posts: 228
Location: Youngstown, Ohio
74
forest garden urban bike
  • Likes 13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

J Youngman wrote:With perennials I look for varieties that are hardy to a few zones lower than mine.
For annuals I plant early (2-3 weeks before the last frost date) to select for cold/frost tolerance.
I plant outside of recommended planting times. I don't baby anything I grow, I torture it and whatever survives is what I continue to grow.



I just decided this year to quit trying to get things started indoors.  Everything I plant outside, early/ late/ whatever...if it makes it does far better than anything I baby.  I only have two 330 gallon water barrels...other than when things are new babies, no babying is allowed.  Unfortunately, thus may also mean I am done growing cruciferous vegetables cuz I am tired of fighting with the groundhogs.
20210710_193953-2.jpg
Ground hog house
Ground hog house
20210609_080919-2.jpg
Thriving urban garden
Thriving urban garden
 
J Youngman
pioneer
Posts: 91
Location: North Texas, Zone 8a, Black Clay
6
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cris, What is the thick stemmed plant in the center of your second photo?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1032
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
311
forest garden tiny house books
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I also subscribe to the aforementioned torture method.

In addition, I don't water anything. I plant seeds early, when the ground is still moist, or after a rain. That's all they get, so things need to germinate in cold soil or mature quickly to take advantage of a rare, ground wetting summer rain.

I broke my rules this year and watered some okra I planted late. It all fried in the sun or got eaten by earwigs. I should have known better.
 
Cris Fellows
pollinator
Posts: 228
Location: Youngstown, Ohio
74
forest garden urban bike
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

J Youngman wrote:Cris, What is the thick stemmed plant in the center of your second photo?


Poke is at center, angelica to right, clary sage flowering behind poke.  We use both poke and angelica medicinally and they need zero babying.  Poke packs up and moves wherever it feels like.  Angelica reseeds and mostly stays put.  They are both architecturally beautiful as well. Clary sage is new for us.  I had no idea it grew that large.  I know people use the essential oil medicinally...we don't have or want a still.  Haven't really done deep dive yet into other uses.
 
J Youngman
pioneer
Posts: 91
Location: North Texas, Zone 8a, Black Clay
6
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's a beautiful plant (as well as your whole garden), I'm not used to seeing the stems so dark, ours are bright orange/red. Maybe just a difference in regional ecotypes.
 
Posts: 121
Location: rural West Virginia
33
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd say, plant lots of different things and plant some crops in sequence; it may have a vulnerable stage and a later planting may do better than the earlier one or vice versa. Mulch heavily to retain moisture and cool soil as well as to suppress weeds (if you live in a chronically wet area this may bring slugs--not a problem for me). Keep records, especially when you do experiments/comparisons whether of variety or of treatment. I make a garden map in late summer each year, and fill in intended crops in pencil as my plan s for the next year come together--the n I replace that with pen when I actually plant. I use colored pencils around the edges of the beds to indicate additives--this is how I figured out that leafmold is a better help than compost for many crops. It also helps me see at a glace where I have had a crop in previous years, especially useful for those prone to disease. I live in WV where we generally have plenty of moisture and plenty of warmth, and a nice long growing season--so disease is my biggest problem (just refraining from spraying poisons and growing a wide variety including flowers, plus unmowed edges and woods around, keeps bugs from being a significant problem).
I like Deppe's books but her problems are rather different than mine, for climate among other reasons. My favorite is Cindy Conner's Grow a Sustainable Diet, because she lives in central Virginia, quite similar in climate to mine, plus her objective is to grow as much as possible of her household's food without draining fertility from some other place, which is the same as mine. I will mention that Deppe's Resilient Gardener takes the approach of choosing a few key crops and ensuring good harvests of those as much as is possible.
 
Posts: 36
Location: Palominas, az
8
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I deal with the Arizona heat by putting tomato cages over sensitive things & covering with lace or sheer curtains. Keeps the birds & bugs off my tomatos too.
Since I'm 73 I only garden in containers....metal trash cans, washing machine tubs, stock waterers, etc. No digging, no weeding.
 
pollinator
Posts: 262
Location: Northern temperate zone. Changeable maritime climate. 1000ft above sea level.
134
forest garden personal care books chicken food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Cris Fellows wrote: Clary sage is new for us.  I had no idea it grew that large.  I know people use the essential oil medicinally...we don't have or want a still.  Haven't really done deep dive yet into other uses.


Clary Sage is high is Omega 3s and can apparently be used as a substitute for chia seeds.  There are a few interesting posts scatted around on permies, mostly from Joseph Lofthouse, about growing and using Clary sage for this purpose.  It sounds like a great candidate for an alternative perennial food crop. When I am settled in my own place again it is one of those crops I hope to landrace for this purpose.

To segue back on topic, the big one I would add to the excellent list from Nicole is creating a forest garden.  Granted, this is not an overnight solution but it is a fantastic way to create an environment that is less effected by radical swings in temperature and conditions.  

The two big names that come to mind are:

In North America, Eric Toensmeier and David Jacke, authors of Edible Forest Gardens Vol 1 and 2

In the UK, Martin Crawford, author of Creating a Forest Garden  

I was really struck by what Nicole said about her neighbours losing chickens and other animals in the heat.  There is also the possibility of keeping animals in the forest garden:

Incorporating Animals in a Forest Garden
 
Sarah Elizabeth
pollinator
Posts: 262
Location: Northern temperate zone. Changeable maritime climate. 1000ft above sea level.
134
forest garden personal care books chicken food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I almost forgot my favourite blog re: keeping chickens, quail and other poultry in a forest garden:

Holistic Hen

PS.  The garden pictures above made my day.  
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 19029
Location: Pacific Northwest
9271
7
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Sarah Elizabeth wrote:
I was really struck by what Nicole said about her neighbours losing chickens and other animals in the heat.  There is also the possibility of keeping animals in the forest garden:

Incorporating Animals in a Forest Garden



Yes! Had my chickens hunkering down in a little shady depression under blackberries, and my ducks/geese were tucked into the woods under a Big Leaf Maple and hazelnut tree. I made sure both animals had nice cool water, and they all made it through. I don't think they would have if I'd kept them in a barn that was in the sun, or out in the middle of a field without shade. The forest microclimate was quite a bit cooler than in the sun, where it was just too hot to be for more than a minute. (I was literally drenched in sweat after a minute out in that heat, and it took me half an hour in front of the AC unit drinking water to cool down)

A lot of local people put their animals in their hot (though shady) sheds, or might not have any real shade. A forest microclimate is so important to keeping things more mild!
 
pollinator
Posts: 330
Location: Central TX, Zone 8b, multi-generational suburban homestead
124
kids forest garden urban books medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mary Cook wrote:Mulch heavily to retain moisture and cool soil as well as to suppress weeds (if you live in a chronically wet area this may bring slugs--not a problem for me).



You say slugs are not a problem for you, but isn’t this thread about problems arising that may not be typical for your area?

I live in Texas and thought slugs were not a problem but they’ve been a killer problem this year! Lol

On the other hand, I love that i haven’t had to water but maybe once this summer
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 19029
Location: Pacific Northwest
9271
7
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The solution to slugs is ducks! At least for me. As long as I let them forage around my garden beds, they keep the slugs in check, and then I have a garden. Without ducks, I have to use insane amounts of Sluggo just to have anything grow. Ducks don't need too much water, either. Just a pail to dunk their heads in, and a small tray they can splash in. I move their water from fruit tree to fruit tree, and dump it at the base of the tree, watering the tree and adding the nutrients there.

I also find the duck bedding invaluable for making gardens. Pine shavings for bedding is one of the few inputs I bring into my property.
 
Sarah Elizabeth
pollinator
Posts: 262
Location: Northern temperate zone. Changeable maritime climate. 1000ft above sea level.
134
forest garden personal care books chicken food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nicole Alderman wrote: The forest microclimate was quite a bit cooler than in the sun, where it was just too hot to be for more than a minute. (I was literally drenched in sweat after a minute out in that heat, and it took me half an hour in front of the AC unit drinking water to cool down)

A lot of local people put their animals in their hot (though shady) sheds, or might not have any real shade. A forest microclimate is so important to keeping things more mild!



That sounds really hot. It must have been a huge shock for everyone in your area. Funny how a huge percentage of our permaculture designs only come into its own less than 5% of the time.  It shows what a resilient set up you must have. It is good to hear how well the forest microclimate worked - particularly compared to a barn set up.

We have had the opposite problem this summer: cold.

Last week, the high temperature here was.....59 F or 15 C.  Yep, that's right. I am wearing a thermal vest in mid July.  I have six chickens that are five weeks old which I hatched in the incubator in June. I had a fairly reasonable expectation that I could manage the chicks with limited energy inputs at this time of year but not this year. We managed to construct a little greenhouse for them to use in the day but it is still not warm enough for them right now without a fan heater. The brooder (where they are at night) is basically off grid and I have been using milk jugs of hot water wrapped in towels to keep them warm. It has worked but it has been hard work.

This brings me to another aspect of garden resilience. What happens if you have to move and start again? This is what has happened to me for reasons beyond my control.  I'm also thinking of people like Carol Deppe losing her rented growing space or Juliette de Bairacli-Levy (the herbalist) who had a total of thirteen gardens over her lifetime as she lived in many different countries and climates.

I am now in a new area but not yet in my own home or on my own land.  Most important for me was to save all my own seeds from the annual and perennial plants and trees I have grown along the way.  I started doing this way before I knew I would have to move and am so glad I did.  The second thing I have discovered is that I could use my time productively to increase my knowledge. I am now planning more of my own landrace crops and have refined my list of basic crops (Like Nicole has done with potatoes).

It is also possible to grow more than I thought in pots and mini portable raised beds.  This has been helpful through a period of serious ill heath and when I am settled again I will continue to have stuff in pots no matter how big my garden as I found I could easily tend them and get produce from them even when I was very ill. They can also be brought inside in a pinch if the weather is too cold or they need to be within easy reach.        
 
steward
Posts: 1167
Location: Pacific North West
692
cattle foraging books chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts writing homestead
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
 
pollinator
Posts: 298
Location: Western MA, zone 6b
128
dog forest garden urban
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Diversity and soil health.  Mulch,  more mulch,  compost,  etc.   The better your soil can handle drought and flooding,  and support root/plant growth,  the more resilient your plants will be.   The more plant diversity,  the more any potential pests or problems will be diluted.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 374
Location: 5,000' 35.24N zone 7b Albuquerque, NM
246
hugelkultur forest garden building rocket stoves woodworking greening the desert
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We’re having a brownout right now:  zero visibility due to blowing sand, silt, topsoil, leaves, mulch, tumbleweed…. Winds are gusting over 50 mph. What a great feeling to know that those hundreds of hours spent weaving tree trimmings into fences are catching literally yards of free organics. The tarp on the neighbor’s ramada blew away an hour ago and the expensive alfalfa hay is blowing into the wattle over here. The row of Arizona Cypress blocking the wind, hairy vetch holding down humus, and native shrubs left untouched are keeping my topsoil in place. I left last year’s planting’s in place so the soil under the stubble remains fixed. Surrounded by the howling wind, the garden and I feel super resilient right now!
 
Posts: 1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Nicole:

I have a question about the potatoes. You said to put them on the ground and cover them with grass clippings. Are those fresh grass clippings or composted? If fresh don't they burn the potatoes? I want to do potatoes in a simple way this year and my neighbor has been bringing us the clippings from when he mows our shared yard.

Thanks,
Amrita
 
Sarah Elizabeth
pollinator
Posts: 262
Location: Northern temperate zone. Changeable maritime climate. 1000ft above sea level.
134
forest garden personal care books chicken food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Amrita Cottrell wrote:Hi Nicole:

I have a question about the potatoes. You said to put them on the ground and cover them with grass clippings. Are those fresh grass clippings or composted? If fresh don't they burn the potatoes? I want to do potatoes in a simple way this year and my neighbor has been bringing us the clippings from when he mows our shared yard.

Thanks,
Amrita



Hi Amrita, welcome to Permies.  I'm not Nicole:) but I have also successful grown potatoes in grass clippings.  The yield was not as high as potatoes grown in good, deep soil but it sure was easy..

We had an empty old raised bed with virtually no soil in it.  We literally dumped a load of grass clippings in the bed, covered it will a layer of cardboard and then made a few holes through the cardboard and placed the potatoes in the grass clippings underneath.  Week by week we then added more grass clippings on top of the cardboard.  We mowed on dry days but the clippings were quite moist.  

The potatoes grew just fine. Of course, potatoes only grow at or above where they are planted so the deeper the grass clippings, the more potatoes you will get - really heap them up.    

We have also done this by heaping up grass clippings mixed with waste wood chips/shredded brush and burying the potatoes in that and that worked fine too, maybe even a little better.

The only mowed grass we avoided using was the grass grown near the road as we were not sure of the pollution levels.

As part of my project to have the most resilient garden I can, wherever I am (we've had a move several times),  I am still experimenting with different ways to grow potatoes.  This year I am growing some in waste straw from the chicken run. I've also grown them in old half-rotted leaves and that worked OK too.

Good luck with your experiments  
 
master steward
Posts: 8885
Location: USDA Zone 8a
2679
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you for creating this wonderful thread with some great resources.

How do you make your garden more resilient?

These two are my favorite threads on how to do just that:

Aranya said, "Building soil and adding mulch provides better insulation from both the heat of the sun and the cold of the winter.



Aranya said, "it's worth checking out the work of Sepp Holzer, who grows lemons amongst many other things at 3,500ft in the Austrian alps. He is a master of microclimates.



https://permies.com/t/17507/Building-microclimates#150779

And since I need to conserve water usage:

Daron said,
1. Do Not Till Your Soil
2. Apply Mulch Around All Your Plants
3. Create Late Afternoon Shade
4. Block Summer Winds
5. Install Protection Against Deer, Rabbits, and Other Critters
6. Water Deeply and Infrequently



https://permies.com/t/113313/Ways-Homestead-Resilient-Drought

I love all the pictures of everyone's gardens.
 
Posts: 78
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Does everyone feel their resilience can outdo mother nature's seemingly increased and unpredictable bouts of rage? I'm not entirely sure we have the methods for such uncertainties but I would love to be proved wrong.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 19029
Location: Pacific Northwest
9271
7
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Sarah Elizabeth wrote:

Amrita Cottrell wrote:Hi Nicole:

I have a question about the potatoes. You said to put them on the ground and cover them with grass clippings. Are those fresh grass clippings or composted? If fresh don't they burn the potatoes? I want to do potatoes in a simple way this year and my neighbor has been bringing us the clippings from when he mows our shared yard.

Thanks,
Amrita



Hi Amrita, welcome to Permies.  I'm not Nicole:) but I have also successful grown potatoes in grass clippings.  The yield was not as high as potatoes grown in good, deep soil but it sure was easy..

We had an empty old raised bed with virtually no soil in it.  We literally dumped a load of grass clippings in the bed, covered it will a layer of cardboard and then made a few holes through the cardboard and placed the potatoes in the grass clippings underneath.  Week by week we then added more grass clippings on top of the cardboard.  We mowed on dry days but the clippings were quite moist.  

The potatoes grew just fine. Of course, potatoes only grow at or above where they are planted so the deeper the grass clippings, the more potatoes you will get - really heap them up.    

We have also done this by heaping up grass clippings mixed with waste wood chips/shredded brush and burying the potatoes in that and that worked fine too, maybe even a little better.

The only mowed grass we avoided using was the grass grown near the road as we were not sure of the pollution levels.

As part of my project to have the most resilient garden I can, wherever I am (we've had a move several times),  I am still experimenting with different ways to grow potatoes.  This year I am growing some in waste straw from the chicken run. I've also grown them in old half-rotted leaves and that worked OK too.

Good luck with your experiments  



I am Nicole, and I approve of this message!

I grew potatoes in just grass clippings last year. I had a bunch of volunteer potatoes in a garden bed I didn't want them in. So I planted them on bare soil and dumped the grass clippings from the lawn on them,. and kept adding more grass clippings as the potatoes grew. The plants grew great, and they produced potatoes. The yield isn't as good if I grow the potatoes in poultry bedding, or poultry bedding+clippings, but they do produce. And they do a good job of smothering the grass underneath that I didn't want.
 
gardener
Posts: 4356
Location: Southern Illinois
917
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a great thread!

To me it all begins with the soil.  This is exactly the reason I find Wine Caps and mushroom compost so very interesting—I can make my very own highly fertile, living soil/garden bedding.  Each year I have been amazed by just how much more fertile my initial bed of wood chips has become.

Eric
 
Jeff Steez
Posts: 78
2
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:This is a great thread!

To me it all begins with the soil.  This is exactly the reason I find Wine Caps and mushroom compost so very interesting—I can make my very own highly fertile, living soil/garden bedding.  Each year I have been amazed by just how much more fertile my initial bed of wood chips has become.

Eric



Any reads on growing mushroom outdoors in South Florida? I looked heavily into growing mushrooms indoors via one of those plastic surrounded racks with ventilation but it's not really my style.

I'd rather grow them outside if possible. Too much plastic in the mushroom growing industry for me, and it's all disposable. I get that it's a nearly perfect material for housing spores and substrates and such but...

Besides my home made compost from veg scrap I've used almost exclusively store bought organic mushroom compost.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4356
Location: Southern Illinois
917
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jeff,

Yes, I am sure you can grow mushrooms in South Florida.  I am Wine Cap obsessed as can be determined by this thread HERE:

https://permies.com/t/82798/composting/composting-wood-chips-chicken-litter

But basically you are going to want to protect your spawn from intense summer sun and make certain that your substrate stays moist.  The moisture is probably not a problem for you but the heat might be so you will need to take extra steps and make certain that the substrate is mostly/totally shaded (winter might be ok to get just a little bit of sunlight) and take advantage of the cooling effects of the ground.

But yes, you can do it.  If you have the time, have a read-through—the thread documents my being a total fungal neophyte to having a bit of success today.

Good Luck,

Eric
 
Posts: 38
16
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Talk of planting potatoes in a different medium brought up the first (and only) time I planted potatoes. I had done some research and found that potatoes can be planted in straw, dry leaves and now, fresh grass clippings! Who knew!

I planted potatoes in straw. I tilled in the proper soil amendments, raked the soil smooth. I had already cut the potatoes the night before so they could cure before planting. I bought in a bale of straw and shook it over the potato seed, then installed my drip irrigation hoses. As the potato plant grew, I added more straw to cover the growing plants. I did irrigate on a regular basis. When the plants had died, I pulled back the straw and saw some beautiful potatoes!

There was NO dirt to clean off the potatoes. The skins were so tender! And the straw became part of the soil, adding tilth. I wasn't a member of this group then but I was very self-sustaining on my small farm. I am not farming now but I did for many years. I miss my birds! I raised certified organic chickens, turkeys & Muscovy ducks. I was also certified organic for grains, garlic and veggies.
 
Posts: 55
Location: Zone 9a, foothills California, 2500 ft elevation
12
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We burn brush to keep the place less wildfire prone and there are lots of little bits of charred wood left - I rinse the ash off them and the result is what I am calling biochar. It's very light in weight when it's dry and it's amazing how much water the stuff holds. I gather it increases microbe habitat in the soil so the soil become healthier and the plants along with it.

Last year I added some biochar to the root zone of a few broccoli transplants in an existing bed with impressive results - a 6-week summer heat wave along with no rain for 6 months - no watering needed once they became established. I am now adding two layers of biochar to any new beds that I build - one at about 10 inches down, and the other around 5 inches. The stuff is inert - it will stay there without breaking down in perpetuity or so they claim. Plus it sequesters carbon...

Despite the concern about fire ( if it makes it to our garden we have bigger worries)  I started adding piles of grass mulch to all the mature plants and it has really cut down on the need to water. I am also growing potatoes in the method described above. One thing I learned is that if there's heavy frost, you want to really pile on the grass to protect potato plants. However, all the frostbitten ones have regenerated. Will see how well they do.

For earwigs, I put out traps - old plastic spice containers work well - just put a few holes in the lid and add any cheap vegetable oil and a little soy sauce and bury them near the plants being chewed on. I put them at an angle in the soil on so there is less evaporation. I used to use open saucers but they are not as effective as they evaporate too quickly and can be knocked over.

For sowbugs, I lay down wet cardboard or boards and do raids where I remove them by hand and relocate them to another place on the property.
 
gardener
Posts: 624
Location: 4200 ft elevation, zone 8a desert, high of 118F, lows in teens
379
3
dog duck forest garden fish fungi chicken cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Amy Gardener wrote:We’re having a brownout right now:  zero visibility due to blowing sand, silt, topsoil, leaves, mulch, tumbleweed…. Winds are gusting over 50 mph. What a great feeling to know that those hundreds of hours spent weaving tree trimmings into fences are catching literally yards of free organics. The tarp on the neighbor’s ramada blew away an hour ago and the expensive alfalfa hay is blowing into the wattle over here. The row of Arizona Cypress blocking the wind, hairy vetch holding down humus, and native shrubs left untouched are keeping my topsoil in place. I left last year’s planting’s in place so the soil under the stubble remains fixed. Surrounded by the howling wind, the garden and I feel super resilient right now!



We've had one good sandstorm like that so far this year in the Bootheel of NM.  And two lesser ones, but still goodies. I'm going to second some of your techniques you mentioned, Amy. I'd love to see your pictures, too.

Windbreak trees:  We've planted trees to create wind-and sand-breaks. Thankfully the previous owner started this with some nice desert willows and a few pines and walnuts.  We added black locusts, hackberry, redbud, vitex, and mimosa.  This year we've added a small line of palo verdes on the north side, and encircled the newest garden with Golden Leadball (Leuceana retusa) and a couple Mexican Elders.  

Rock Gardens and rock mulch : My husband also put in two rock gardens. The rocks help trap moisture in the ground, they also created a lot of habitat for lizards. Previous to the rock gardens and our food gardens, there was rarely a lizard to be seen. Without hiding areas, the roadrunners ate them as fast as they reproduced. Now, the roadrunners come through periodically and hunt in our gardens and landscaping.  They leave with mouthfuls of lizards! It's like a feast for them. Then they move on for a couple months, and they really didn't even dent the lizard population.  I think this is sort of like creating a Savory-style natural grazing situation for the lizards and roadrunners. A high resiliency, diverse population of organisms.  The lizards eat tons of bugs, too, of course.  I love watching them hunt in the morning.  

The rock gardens also have increased the variety and size of plants growing in those spots.  We have yuccas there that we throw water at occasionally, and they are much, much larger than the ones growing out in the open with no rocks on the surrounding ground. Same with cacti - if surrounded by rock, the cactus will grow twice as big as one not surrounded by rock. I have a great example of this effect I need to make a post about! The rocks also protect cacti from javelina, and that reduces the amount of caging we need to put in.

Fencing as windbreak creation: We use fencing for necessary gardening purposes (keeping out javelina, rabbits, kangaroo rats and rattlesnakes). We use a "hedge" of sunchokes along the south side of one fence as a windbreak and soil/sand/water catch. This year all the fencelines will also get used for vining plants; squashes, coral vine, trumpet vine, luffa, kiwano, and hyacinth bean or cowpeas anywhere else I need a fast growing, tough vine.

Leaving roots in the ground: When we harvest most things (not root crops of course), we leave the roots in the ground and just cut the stems off at the surface, like Amy pointed out above. Stubble is good.

Sunken beds: We use sunken beds for most of the garden.  They retains water better both by stopping runoff and lessening evaporation by getting the bed surface slightly out of the wind. The sunken beds also create other forms of microclimates which I elaborate on below.

Designed/located the gardens for runoff collection: Our gardens are placed where they collect rainwater from the building roofs and driveway runoff.  We don't have rainwater catchment, but we don't actually need it.  Almost very drop goes into a garden. The fencelines have sunken beds and the outer edge of the garden fencelines are mulched to stop any runoff. The inner beds were dug very deep so water infiltrates to at least a couple feet.  We haven't had any runoff happen yet, every drop has stayed in the garden the past couple years.

Vertical gardening: This may sound counterintuitive in a place with extreme winds, but vertical gardening works well. You have to learn which plants can take 50mph and not lose all their leaves, and those that can just regrow them.  We layer multiple types of vines over each other. It seems to protect the weaker ones. Strong ones include hyacinth beans and passionflower (P. caerulea in particular is very tough) and grapes. Long beans are also somewhat tolerant.  Then the weaker ones like green beans and cukes survive better with the other plants around them.

Gravity feed drip irrigation: The biggest desert garden resiliency step we've taken this year is making such a difference. We installed a gravity fed drip system off a water storage tank. The results have been amazing!  All sorts of things are reseeding themselves that haven't done so before.  The consistent watering apparently makes all the difference - two types of basil, turnips, beans and green onions are just regrowing from fallen seed on their own right now. Turns out I didn't need to start basil in the greenhouse this year after all.  

The ability for plants to reseed now is adding a layer of resiliency I didn't expect to get here in the desert, from the drip irrigation. Reseeding herbs and food plants seems really normal when you live other areas (tons of things came up on their own in Oregon, for example).  Then I found that in the desert the drying winds and evaporation rate of the soil, PLUS the fact that any little sprout in the early spring tends to be eaten immediately - this means it can be very hard to grow by direct-seeding here. You need a LOT of seeds sprout for the chance for a few to survive dehydration, rodents, or birds.  A lot more than one might expect.

So the drip irrigation has really transformed our gardening. Previous to this, I had to water morning and evening (by hand, direct in each bed), on days that were above 100F. That's most of the summer, and many days of the spring and fall.  Even with that, plants would dry out and die from heat. So not only is it a timesaver, but the fact that we have it on gravity feed means we have a few days of irrigation - critical for resiliency in the desert. In the desert, the power tends to go out in summer, right when you need water the most!

Learning to use and recognize microclimates: This is a culmination of all the above techniques. In observing over the years, I have become better at not only creating microclimates, but recognizing ones that were created accidentally and just using those. I've found I prefer the latter.  I love permaculture because it fits with my "work with nature/lazy gardening methods".  Like the concept of the edges of beds being naturally drier (as long as you don't water pathways of course), and therefore being a better spot for certain plants. That's a really MICRO micro climate.  In the desert, though, this effect is more severe. The pathways in our gardens are bone dry. Only a few native plants are even able to grow there, mostly those with tubers underground. The pathways sprout something lovely if I accidentally spill water on them, or during monsoons.  Arizona flame flower and different mallows sprout in the pathways.

The edges of the garden beds are also quite dry, but what actually happens is that they get some moisture with the bed's irrigation, but then the edges totally dry out in between. Totally dry, so not many cultivated plants can tolerate this extreme.  Instead, the edges grow a lot of native plants - mallows that need more water than the ones in the pathways, gorgeous evening primroses, purple mat, and many others.  So it's like a native wildflower microclimate on the edge of our planting beds and that's really pretty besides attracting a ton of beneficial insects.

Learning to "trick" seed and seedling predators: This is one of those very regional things I've had to learn. In rural PNW, there were certain plants you had to be very careful with during the seeding and seedling stages (ie, the old adage, don't plant your peas with jays or crows watching).  Here in the desert, I've found this to be WAY more important. So many creatures eat seeds in the ground, and more eat them when they sprout!  For example, kangaroo rats know exactly where you planted beans, squash, cukes, corn, etc. They will dig those things up each night. They leave a tiny little hole. If some squash manage to sprout, they eat them before the squash gets any mature leaves.   Birds called towhees also eat sprouts, and birds called thrashers pull sprouted seeds out of the ground to look for bugs! The tell tale sign of a thrasher looking for grubs is the sprouted plant, ie a bean sprout, laying dried on the ground.

To learn this information, I had to watch the birds do their different actions early each morning and be willing to sacrifice much of our first garden plantings that first year.   So I didn't stop the birds from "wrecking" our plantings.  I watched how and why they did it, and then tried to figure out ways to work around the behaviors. With the kangaroo rats, it's different because they are nocturnal and I am not!   Instead, when I planted a bunch of butternut and the seeds were being systematically eaten each night... we put out live traps and then checked them in the early morning. Consistently, it was kangaroo rats.  Then we let them go (they have permanent homes and we don't want to relocate them because they are delightful creatures) and I would try different things to see how I could get those butternut to sprout unmolested.

In our case, concealment worked best with the birds. They would eat and pull fewer sprouts if they didn't see them, so I did mulching and then later I planted new seeds under other plants.  For example, peas hidden under flowers/herbs that grew through the winter and were leafy in spring (calendula, violets, cilantro, bachelor button, Hopi Tea, Sweet Williams in my case).  But this method doesn't  work for rodents, who I'm believe (by their digging accuracy) hunt by smell.

With rodents like kangaroo rats, I found that simple little cages of chicken wire, tiny ones, placed over the seeded clumps (like for butternut, or cukes), would keep them from digging them up. That was a trial and error discovery, and an unexpected one, since kangaroo rats dig and live in holes! But they like to dig squash seeds and seedlings right near the surface, it turns out.  Also any type of cloche dome worked, too. I can remove the covers as soon as squash seedlings get a couple true leaves - they must not taste good anymore because they are unbothered by rodents and birds after that shift.



May-17-garden.jpg
Mid May desert garden, much more productive than it looks!
Mid May desert garden, much more productive than it looks!
rock-garden.jpg
Rock garden plants thrive with little water
Rock garden plants thrive with little water
calendula-and-hopi-tea.jpg
calendula and Hopi tea began blooming in April
calendula and Hopi tea began blooming in April
sweet-williams.jpg
growing cottage garden flowers becomes possible in desert
growing cottage garden flowers helps conceal food seedlings
reseeding-Thai-basil.jpg
Thai basil reseedeng itself because of drip irrigation
Thai basil reseedeng itself because of drip irrigation
 
Posts: 47
Location: SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS, CA
25
homeschooling medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
🌸 What an awesome thread!  Resiliency has been on my mind as well. Our food forest is in the Santa Cruz mountains of Cali, zone 9b, and every season seems more extreme than the last.

My focus is on growing perennial food. I’ve definitely seen the power of perennials in their ability to survive and produce in extreme weather patterns. My goal is to find a perennial alternative to every common annual food crop.

One thing I’ve found really helpful is to use a dappled over story to protect from both heat and cold. In my garden, I have hugel beds with an over story of tall perennial kales, collards, hollyhocks, and mullein. I find that they help to soften the extremes of weather. My smaller plants don’t burn or freeze when this overstory is in place and it makes an easy chop and drop mulch when I need to open up for some sunlight.

In my food forest, I have different types of berries growing on each hugel. I found that the berries were burning with the intensity of our summers, so I planted an overstory of false indigo which gives beautiful dappled shade. The berries in partial shade far outperform the ones in full sun. Next season, I plan on planting purple robe black locust trees as an overstory over the rest of my berries.

Another experiment that has proven to be helpful is to find more resilient rootstocks for my fruit trees. We have a wild plum that pops up all over our mountain. In the past I’ve chopped it out, considering it a nuisance. This year it dawned on me that this tree has an amazing ability to survive with absolutely no care, so instead of fighting it, I chopped off its branches and grafted pluot varieties to it. They all took and now I have an amazing tree that makes delicious fruit and requires little to no water or fuss. I’m in the process of finding other wild rootstocks that demonstrate a similar vigor.

I also keep a thick layer of wood chip mulch throughout my food forest. It dramatically helps to hold in moisture and supports healthy soil life.

Thanks for sharing all of your ideas!  It’s joyful to be part of this community.
 
Posts: 31
Location: Vancouver Island
13
3
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Christy Garner wrote:now I have an amazing tree that makes delicious fruit and requires little to no water or fuss. I’m in the process of finding other wild rootstocks that demonstrate a similar vigor.



This is indeed a great thread, especially in years like this when "Spring" was so cold and wet and little more than an extension of Winter.

Here on Vancouver Island there is a wild crab apple with fruits the size of hawthorn berries, which pops up everywhere and grows anywhere its seeds take: from shade to boggy, poor soil or good, it doesn't mind. I use it as a rootstock for grafting other apples, usually in situ where there is one in a suitable spot and we also have a larger one that now has about six different varieties happily growing on it. I have heard that there are only two or three varieties of apple that can't be directly grafted onto this wild crab (I don't know which) but they can, I'm told, all be double grafted.

We grow some of our salad crops in pots, Rainbow Swiss Chard being especially successful. It looks fantastic with its brightly coloured stems and glossy leaves and can be moved around so that the dreaded leaf miner never finds it, which always happens if chard is planted in the ground. It goes into the greenhouse in late Autumn and keeps us in salads all winter, along with the Red Russian kale. In the Spring, it goes back out again and we carry on harvesting leaves as it goes to seed until the new crop is ready. We collect most of the seed but there are always some that escape and we have volunteer plants next year where it was standing. Everywhere we use our compost, there are always lots of seedlings of red mustard, orache (a wonderful plant) and strawberry spinach which we just move to wherever we want them to grow or leave them in situ until they are big enough to pull out and eat.

I use lawn clippings as a mulch, using a side delivery mower which spreads them on the lawn where they soon dry. I then collect them with a lawn sweeping gadget pulled with the mower and put them between all the veggies, where they keep down weeds and, being light and fluffy, are a good insulator and do a great job at keeping the soil cool and moist. This year, with all the cold and wet, we've had an abundance of this useful material.
 
pollinator
Posts: 146
Location: Suffolk County, Long Island NY
30
2
forest garden foraging food preservation writing
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't know if this specific hack will be pertinent to people with large farms, but the concept itself may be helpful in developing ideas for protection from high winds.

Increased frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes is definitely an issue here on Long Island. Wind damage is a much bigger concern than water for me since I am 13 miles from the ocean beaches and 11 miles from the Long Island Sound. With "The Last Big One", Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy, we had been lucky, meaning we don't live in a flood zone, only spent a few weeks without electricity (we were well prepared), no trees crushed our house, and the  folks in our 'hood cooperated and cleared enough trees within two days to make vehicle travel out of our street possible. Not that there was anywhere to go.  And even more important, I knew how to percolate coffee the old-fashioned way in my camping coffee pot over an outdoor fire or grill. I digress.

My food forest is a small space: roughly an acre of land half-wooded/half open, but I am learning and working HARD on building it and working with it.  A few years ago, a tropical storm was headed my way and we were forecast to get the brunt of the wind.  It had been a warm, humid summer and it seemed like the entire flora of my area was infected with fungal diseases. I was barely winning the battle (organically).  The garden held quite a variety of vegetables, but I was fighting extra hard for my army of tomato TREES that had, I believe, sprung up voluntarily from my compost (I certainly didn't plant them).  I was married to the bountiful harvest I was going to can and freeze.
However, after a lifetime of tropical storms, I knew if I did nothing my tomatoes would be gone with the wind. The rest of my food forest I would leave to nature but I wanted those tomatoes.  I needed those tomatoes.  They were a glimmer of hope for success, a validation, an obsession.  

One 10' x 3' area, one 8' x 2' area, and a 4' x 4' area. I needed to shelter them from winds up to 70 miles an hour with what I had on hand.

Bird netting. My stupid rolls of bird netting that did NOT keep birds off my berries.
 
I took the bird netting and swaddled those tomato plants up like newborn babies. I thought one plant alone would be too flimsy, so I bound two or three together.  With some of them I pinned down the netting with tent stakes, when I ran out of stakes it was just the netting.  I circled each plant bundle 3-4 times. I reasoned that the wind would pass through but the plants would not be whipped around, defoliated and/or broken.

It worked.  It worked perfectly.  They were literally unscathed.  Binding a few together into a bigger "bush" made them a little stronger and the net allowed the wind to pass through without the whipping around that strips leaves and fruit and bends stalks.  I have use this technique a few times now, adapting it to the size and structure of different plants and it has worked every time. It definitely has its niche in terms of wind protection.
 Just made marinara sauce with the last of those tomatoes this weekend.  
 
Posts: 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, Cumba here from Santa Cruz, Calif.
We're in another year of "exceptional drought" and the mice are eating whatever I plant. Garlic, potatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, favas, etc. Very frustrating. I have caught in a few in traps but I think they're getting wise... Any suggestions/commiserations, etc., would be most welcome.
I love growing food, just watching things burst out and shoot for the sky. I know Calif is a huge ag state but here on the ground, so to speak, I have to fence out deer, rabbits, squirrels, gophers, rats, mice, and birds.
I am grateful I am not trying to really grow all my food.
 
Susan Mené
pollinator
Posts: 146
Location: Suffolk County, Long Island NY
30
2
forest garden foraging food preservation writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Cumba Siegler wrote:Hi, Cumba here from Santa Cruz, Calif.
We're in another year of "exceptional drought" and the mice are eating whatever I plant. Garlic, potatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, favas, etc. Very frustrating. I have caught in a few in traps but I think they're getting wise... Any suggestions/commiserations, etc., would be most welcome.
I love growing food, just watching things burst out and shoot for the sky. I know Calif is a huge ag state but here on the ground, so to speak, I have to fence out deer, rabbits, squirrels, gophers, rats, mice, and birds.
I am grateful I am not trying to really grow all my food.



I often wonder how early settlers grew ANYTHING.The drought must be torture.  I'll take a hurricane any day over drought.
What kind of space do you have?  Raised beds? pots? planters? Acres? Do you have any fencing in place? How is the drought affecting your area? Watering restrictions?
I'm no expert, but two heads are better than one.  And we have a whole community here to help!
 
Kim Goodwin
gardener
Posts: 624
Location: 4200 ft elevation, zone 8a desert, high of 118F, lows in teens
379
3
dog duck forest garden fish fungi chicken cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Susan Mené wrote:

Cumba Siegler wrote:Hi, Cumba here from Santa Cruz, Calif.
We're in another year of "exceptional drought" and the mice are eating whatever I plant. Garlic, potatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, favas, etc. Very frustrating. I have caught in a few in traps but I think they're getting wise... Any suggestions/commiserations, etc., would be most welcome.
I love growing food, just watching things burst out and shoot for the sky. I know Calif is a huge ag state but here on the ground, so to speak, I have to fence out deer, rabbits, squirrels, gophers, rats, mice, and birds.
I am grateful I am not trying to really grow all my food.



I often wonder how early settlers grew ANYTHING.The drought must be torture.  I'll take a hurricane any day over drought.
What kind of space do you have?  Raised beds? pots? planters? Acres? Do you have any fencing in place? How is the drought affecting your area? Watering restrictions?
I'm no expert, but two heads are better than one.  And we have a whole community here to help!



I've lived in two in a very rodent-rich areas and from all the farmers I've known, the key seems to be outdoor cats. All of my neighbors that raise animals and have to keep grain on hand, they have outdoor cats.  I'm reminded of the Little House on the Prairie books...Laura's parents hear that someone had a cat with kittens, and is selling them. They go to a good length to buy one and that kitten is a very precious addition to their household.  It made me realize the value cats had to the settlers.  And ratter dogs.

I've never tried that approach. I like having birds and lizards and all sorts of other creatures the cats also eat. We use live traps here in the desert, and yes, it's a big pain, but there are many other things you can accidentally kill here that are tempted by mousetraps.

That said, in Oregon we used bucket traps.  A 5 gallon bucket with a little bit of oil at the bottom. They jump in and can't jump out because it's slippery. If you don't get to them soon enough, it gets gruesome. It' is very effective, though.

I've also found that having a compost heap helps attract them away from your food plants.  Then you can trap them there, or not - sometimes I've had a compost heap work well enough to keep them out of the garden.
 
Cumba Siegler
Posts: 5
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
SO I live on a sloped land near the ocean, with lots of seabreeze. And animals... we have 10 acres, mostly woods and poison oak, and the garden is on the side of the driveway.
I have everything in planters because of the gophers. The garden is about 18 by 50 feet, with 5 fruit trees and lots of containers. The mice just climb up anywhere they like... including the plum tree at the moment. And I am working on installing plastic stuff to keep the breeze off everything.
There are wood rats in the woods next to the garden, one of which, I think, ate one of the mice I caught; only found the fur and tail and some rat turds...
The old wild west...
I have no shortage of seeds, or desire to grow, or try new things. I am sparing with our well water, which will only last so long.  I can keep replanting even though I don't imagine anything will last very long.
What I do need is some kind of philosophical approach to all this. I can see that each year is different (I started during the lockdown, so this is year 3).
I see that many people have it way worse than me.
Still, I gnash my teeth in frustration!
 
Kim Goodwin
gardener
Posts: 624
Location: 4200 ft elevation, zone 8a desert, high of 118F, lows in teens
379
3
dog duck forest garden fish fungi chicken cooking bee greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Cumba Siegler wrote:The mice just climb up anywhere they like... including the plum tree at the moment.



Well that is persistent! Wow. I feel for you.

Here in the desert SW there are these delightful little ground squirrels.  They burrow and they also climb. I have a friend in the forested area of the Chiricahuas, which looks a lot like the area around Santa Cruz except without trees as big as redwoods.  Those ground squirrels wreak havoc in her garden some years. Nothing is spared.

She's tried a lot of things, including solid metal sheeting that's about 1 foot high, running around her garden. It's like roofing trim?  It has helped with mice, but doesn't help with the ground squirrels.  They can just jump up high enough to grab the fencing.

Some people here enclose their entire gardens because of this. It's tough to know what will work. I admire your persistence!  Please keep us all posted. Are there any local garden groups were you could see how others manage this issue?

Good luck
 
Cumba Siegler
Posts: 5
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Of course, I fantasize about using those stock watering tanks and then running solar-powered electric wire around the top...
But I also fantasize about special remote controls that make people mute or remove traffic from in front of me... it's good to have a good imagination
although I also have to let go of it or I go off down that wild, merry path!
 
Posts: 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To make your garden resilient, you need to do some things very carefully. Keep water close to the roots of the plants at first. Then maintain water at the soil surface, which prevents evaporation. After that, keep water off of plant foliage to reduce disease.
Keep water targeted to minimize germination of weed seeds. You'll soon have a very resilient garden if you do this.
 
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you - Fred Rogers. Tiny ad:
New! Solar Dehydrator Movie & Build Plans!
https://permies.com/wiki/176507/Solar-Dehydrator-Movie-Build-Plans
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic