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I wanna hear from the Western Drought-Stricken Permies

 
gardener
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Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
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Hey to all y'all that are going through this crazy drought.

I would like to know 3 things from you:

1. What do you think you and your family are doing well with water conservation right now? Got any hard-core, black-belt water saving tips? Greywater on the cheap ideas? Drought-tolerant crops? Name it! Brag on yourself.

2. What do you wish you could do better? Do you have any specific "I wish I would have done XYZ beforehand so I'd cope better now." Let others here get some ideas for putting our conservation systems in place now.

3. Have you measured how much water you're consuming per day? Have you measured how much of that is being used for greywater?

Y'all are living in a challenging climate right now, and I'd like to glean your wisdom.
 
Posts: 289
Location: Málaga, Spain
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Hi, Stacey.
We are not in draught, but it looks like it. Our garden depended on the municipal pipe to get water and it was closed for safety reasons.
I've spent last year just observing and interacting with the garden. This is a thermomediterranean climate.
If you can use graywater, that's a relief.

Some observations.

1. The amount of water needed is very dependent on the soil, the shade, the plants, the temperature, the winds. We are feeding a couple of tomato plants with 6 litres a week and this is barely enough to keep the plant alive, but it is not yielding edible fruit. Sorghum is thriving with the same amount of water. I feed a tomato plant in a pot at home with 1,5 litres a day an it gives edible fruit, but they are nothing impressive. If you don't want to irrigate them at all, choose xerophyllic species like thyme and rosemary.
2. Heat and wind are as important as lack of water. Plants not in the shade will just burn unless they are thermophylic, like fig and olive tree. Thermophyllic plants don't make much mulch, however.
3. Big fig and carob trees get underground water. The first meter of soil is dried, their roots must be much deeper. The only good soil stands at the foot of the big carob tree.
4. Mulch is not as available as I initially thought. Most of our herbs for mulch were reduced to nothing after June's heat.
5. Breeze is only good for reducing the heat when plants have water. Even humid breeze dehydrate any plants with no hardened leafs (sclerophyles).
6. Climate adapted perennial plants grow painfully slow, fig tree being the only exception. Seasonal ones don't leave trace in summer.
7. A buried bed, filled with organic matter, is able to keep moist for longer. But it still dried up after one month of no irrigation, since cultivated plants drank the water to face the heat and wind.
8. Organic matter exposed to sun doesn't turn into humus, it becomes ashes.

So the strategy to preserve water is mostly to bring shade from deep rooted trees, then provide wind protection from a wall of high shrubs.  Bury or keep in the shade any organic matter. When weeding don't remove roots.

Finally, this is a fire hazard zone, specially with draughts. Trees like pines are the most dangerous since they thrive in fire, they are called pyrophillic for a reason. Wide clean paths and fire retardant species (cacti, succulents) planted between fire prone ones is a good idea.
 
pollinator
Posts: 157
Location: Saskatchewan
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We haven't changed much of our habits because of the drought, mainly because water on our homestead is precious no matter what.

The garden gets watered once a week or it would have shriveled up to nothing by now, the young food forest has been watered twice this year. Heavy mulch does wonders to hold the moisture.

All the grey water goes out to the shade trees on the west side of the house, it was setup this way many years ago and is the simplest form of using the grey water.

My family of four use between 1000 gal and 1200 gal of water a week in total. 1/4 of that is laundry, 1/4 of that goes to the garden. There are also a horse, 2 pigs, and 120 chickens that get watered out of that amount.
 
gardener
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Location: South of Capricorn
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I'm not out west but we've been rationing water for over 16 months now (since March 2020, a day and a half with town water and a day and half without) thanks to a historic drought. We thought we were parsimonious with water before, but now....

I think the thing we've gotten most serious about is capturing used water with containers. Namely, keep buckets or basins wherever you have a faucet, and catch whatever you can. We put one in the shower to capture soapy water coming off us during the shower, and that flushes toilets, with 3 adults that means we flush with with town water only maybe 25% of the time.
In the kitchen, whenever I'm draining something that can be used to water plants, it gets dumped into a bucket. If it can't, it gets taken to the bathroom and dumped in the flushing bucket.
I used to save laundry water before (rinse water is used as the wash water in the next load), but now I do whatever I can to save the soapy/dirty water too- use it for cleaning elsewhere or else water the trees.

My entire life seems to revolve around bins, basins, and barrels, but the garden looks great and everyone's happy.

Edited to add: and definitely, mulch the patootie out of everything to keep that precious moisture in the ground!!
 
master steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Stacie, great idea for a thread.

I almost live on the border of the Texas Hill Country and West Texas, until this year we almost always are in a drought situation.

Not this year as it has almost rained every week this summer.

Back when we had our homestead, I spent many days standing in a bucket when I took a shower so I could save every last drop of precious water.

Back then my life was much like Tereza describes.

For others, this is a great year to consider rainwater catchment.

This book will help explain:

https://permies.com/wiki/51855/Rainwater-Harvesting-Drylands-Brad-Lancaster
 
pollinator
Posts: 2659
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I think it doesn't matter what I do. There is a massive fight right now as a land holding family wishes to drill 5 irrigation wells and they're not saying they are going to sell the water they plan to pump out to oil companies but they're not saying they won't do that. So, I'm over here on my tiny 40 acres trying to make a difference while the people with 20k acres are going to sell off the aquifer and there is nothing I can do about it.
 
pollinator
Posts: 278
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 7b
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1. I need to be doing more! We conserve on the basis as we don't have anything to waste in the first place. Small well, bad water...

2. My biggest need is storage. Since it only rains here for a short time I need to capture more. I have 900 gallons of storage right now but I am looking for about 3000  more to start. After that, greywater!

3. I have not. I did just do'd the math and it says I need about 3200 gallons to get my garden through the hot. TIme to start looking for a railroad tank car to sit up the hill from my pad (which is what my friend had growing up).
 
pollinator
Posts: 254
Location: Hamburg, Germany
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elle sagenev wrote:I think it doesn't matter what I do. There is a massive fight right now as a land holding family wishes to drill 5 irrigation wells and they're not saying they are going to sell the water they plan to pump out to oil companies but they're not saying they won't do that. So, I'm over here on my tiny 40 acres trying to make a difference while the people with 20k acres are going to sell off the aquifer and there is nothing I can do about it.



Ugh.  I don't want to like your post, but to acknowledge it.  Best wishes for the fight.
 
gardener
Posts: 5083
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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I live in an ecosystem that tends to get a lot of rain when it's too dark to grow things, and not enough rain when the days are longer and the sun isn't a figment of my imagination. This year the "drought season" pretty much started at the beginning of March - late Feb would be more accurate. We do tend to get a lot of dew, and that's not as easy to measure, and it's not enough to keep the grass green, but if I irrigate the grass deeply once, it's enough to keep it green much longer, which the geese appreciate.

We've got two good wells, but as mentioned by elle, there are risks associated with depending on well water. I've been told there's plenty, but the back well supports the animals we have that need grass. I've tried to build the soil, and when I water, I do so deeply overnight, but we've got clay that is pretty hard-packed so if we couldn't rely on our well, we would have to reduce our bird population by a lot. As part of medium-term planning, I'm trying to develop a different area of our property which is currently scrub and trees, with more of a Savanah theme. The most useful single tool for my particular ecosystem seems to be digging a 2ft deep holes (deeper isn't practical with the clay and rocks) and filling it with compost and dead tree. This seems to be helping water soak in deeper, and one baby tree where this was done concurrently with planting and about 4 feet away from the tree's hole, I've virtually not watered that tree at all - just added kitchen compost to the hole and occasionally the rinse water from the compost bucket. The two trees where I've been trying to dig retroactively, are still getting supportive watering, but those trees are both old enough to produce fruit, so the comparison isn't equal. However, many people here are watering daily with this drought, and the smaller tree has only been watered once a month, and the bigger one with a larger crop more like every two weeks. I *really* need to dig more holes up-slope from it, and maybe down slope as well. I've been trying to improve the soil from the top down, but in our rocky clay, I'm finding there comes a point where some disturbance kick-starts much faster progress.

Unfortunately, I've heard that the local health department is negative about grey-water systems. That means they've got to be pretty stealthy or the bucket system. One person I know was doing it, had the grey water flowing into a small artificial " three bathtub" wetland system. Then it went underground below berry shrubs and trees. I don't know if the health department knew about it, or if it still exists.  Australia has been doing grey-water right for decades now without me hearing horrible things, so I think it's time North America made major progress in that area. In the meantime, I'm doing "gray bordering on black" water recycling every time I dump my duckie buckets on the grass and refill them in a new spot!
 
pollinator
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Dan, I think you will find a railway tanker will be more expensive than a rainwater  tank.
Rainfall collection is my field.
What sort of rainfall do you have and how much comes down when you have a cloud burst?
 
Posts: 80
Location: Clackamas County, OR (zone 7)
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Hey, thought I would contribute my experiences this year, as it has been quite a dry year here in western Oregon. We were about 6" below average on rainfall in the spring, and the last measurable rain at my place was on June 15th. There is no rain in the forecast for at least the next 10 days.

Our household system is very lean, as we are living off grid in a yurt with one shower, one sink, and a washing machine. I am pumping spring water for that system, and I have used 50,000 gallons in the last 4 years - so about 35 gallons per day. We have a composting toilet, and that really cuts down on water use. Much of our water is used for washing diapers; before my daughter was born I think we used closer to 25 gallons a day. I built a gray-water system with a reed-bed, but all the solids from the kitchen sink really fouls it up. The pipes collect greasy gunk, and a bunch of gross floating scum collects in my settling tank. I am working on adding on a little bathroom for our yurt, and when I switch over the plumbing I am going to just dump the water out on the hillside. Unless you can route a big pipe straight to the base of a fruit tree or something, I would say that graywater is more hassle than it is worth. If you are generating hundreds of gallons of it per day, I would think that working on reducing the indoor use, and giving the rest to your plants in form that is not so foul would be the best bet.

I also have a 2500 gallon cistern for my kitchen garden. I fill it from the gutters over the winter, but it really does not last long. We usually start watering in early June, but this year we had it going in May. I will probably need to keep watering until September. I have about 1500 sq feet of raised beds, which helps during the rainy winter, but is a liability when the dry summer weather gets here. This year we finally set up an automatic irrigation system, so a little robot opens the valves in the middle of the night to run our drip tapes. I have been using about 100 gallons per night to keep it looking lush and green. I have a little solar pump that brings up water during the day, but the trees are growing up down where the spring is, and its getting harder to keep up with the demand.

I will certainly second the utility of mulch. I have had a lot of success with using maple leaves, which blocks weeds well, and really holds in moisture. Also, it doesnt contain many seeds. I tried using sheeps wool, but it seems to attract voles, which then proceed to demolish anything I have planted there.

I have plans to really beef up my garden water storage capacity. The handful of little sheds that I am harvesting rain from should be able to catch something like 30,000 gallons over the winter. I figure 10,000 would likely get me through a year like this one. I am going to do some experiments with ferrocement, and maybe think about making a giant tank out of it farther up the hill.

I would also like to mulch more, and I have plans to try trenching out the middle of some of my beds and burying wood to help hold water. I suspect there would be ways to grow plenty of food in this climate with zero irrigation, but I also really enjoy building stuff. And playing with water :)
 
John C Daley
pollinator
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Carl, the issue of the solids in the grey water can be sorted.
What is the flow system from the sink to the red bed?

From; pod tank system
Sensible care must be taken to ensure that excess fats, oil and grease (FOG) are kept out of the system as far as is possible as it will clog the FilterPod media and the plant will not work.

Reed bed systems are not low maintenance and you need a regular maintenance program to keep them working properly.
Weeds grow in among the reeds, reducing efficiency and requiring removal on a regular basis. The reeds also need regular pruning, uprooting and thinning out.
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 5083
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1923
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I thought this video that I listened to today would be of interest to people responding to this thread. It suggests that this year's dry weather is likely to persist for some years at a minimum. Thus finding solutions that will help you cope going forward could make a huge difference.

Carl Nystrom wrote:

I have plans to try trenching out the middle of some of my beds and burying wood to help hold water.

All of the raised beds I've built in the last 5 years have had a fair bit of punky wood in the lower layer. I highly recommend it.

and wrote:

This year we finally set up an automatic irrigation system, so a little robot opens the valves in the middle of the night to run our drip tapes. I have been using about 100 gallons per night to keep it looking lush and green.

My raised beds with punky wood tend to only need water every three days. I'm wondering if you could set up a manifold after your little robot so that the water goes to a different region based on which valve you open? It does mean that you have to remember to open and close the appropriate valves each day, but it would encourage your plants to put roots down deeper. Seedlings or transplants might need daily for a few days, but my planters are incredibly lush using a 2-3 day schedule.



However, if people want to discuss the video, that would be better done in its own thread.
 
Carl Nystrom
Posts: 80
Location: Clackamas County, OR (zone 7)
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John, you are no doubt right about there being a way to make gray-water work. I have tried a lot of stuff, and the only one that worked flawlessly was to just let the water run out of a pipe somewhere a ways away from the building. Anywhere that the water could collect simply turns into a septic mess. It stinks, it develops a gross floating scum that plugs up outflow pipes, and it gleys the bottom and refuses to drain even if it has soil at the bottom.

I guess I would say that my experience is that gray-water is not easy. In my current setup, the house drains flow down into mostly buried 55 gallon drum. I put in a baffle to try and catch the floating stuff, but it goes under and then floats up on the other side. This forms a 4 inch thick, frothy, foul smelling mess that then plugs the outflow. If I wanted to go out there and skim it every month, that might help; but I do not. It is far grosser than anything I have ever experienced with a composting toilet or hand-dug outhouse. From there the water drains into small bed that is filled with stones and gravel. I planted common rush in the top, and it grows really well. I used to go out and thin them and toss them on the compost, but I am so sick of it that its gotten sort of overgrown. The water smells terrible after going through the barrel, so the whole system is pretty unpleasant. The overflow from the reed bed is shallow perf pipe that drains to daylight. I am pretty sure water does not pour out the end, and the weeds grow really well on top of where it runs.

My system was never really designed, just added on to and modified and tinkered with. I am really sick of it. When the water just ran out on the ground the solids were just composted, and the whole thing really did not smell bad. I only started tinkering with it because I felt like the water was going to waste, and I wanted to clean it up and put it to use. I would be curious to hear about people with a system that is working well for them.

And Jay, the "robot" is a version of this: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Melnor-4-Zone-Automatic-Water-Timer-with-4-Valves-for-Garden-and-Yard-Care-MEL-63280/312495987

It can set up amazingly intricate watering schedules for 4 different zones, and then you can just walk away. Hands down the biggest waster of water in my garden was human error. I would set a timer to go turn off the water, but it would go off while I was distracted, and the next morning I would find I had just put 1000 gallons out on a handful of beds. I have 3 zones running in my garden, and I run them staggered in the middle of the night to reduce evaporation losses.


 
Jay Angler
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Carl Nystrom wrote:John, you are no doubt right about there being a way to make gray-water work. I have tried a lot of stuff, and the only one that worked flawlessly was to just let the water run out of a pipe somewhere a ways away from the building.

The system I referred to above, the fellow had a kitchen strainer/colander filled with wood chips that the water had to drain through to get to the barrel. He'd dump the chips and anything caught by them into the compost every 4-7 days depending on the weather and water use, and that seemed to solve a chunk of the problem you're describing.

That said, I've got a 2 1/2 inch pipe running out of my Duck Stock tank - I move the end of the pipe each time I do a dump and the water is absorbed into the plants at the end point. The bamboo went a little berserk the year I moved it around their grove, then the ducks themselves got moved due to a dangerous tree. Now I'm trying to come up with a better system which will include an easier way to spread the water to more systems than just the bamboo without generating too much more work as part of designing new housing/runs for the ducks.

In other words, if a pipe on the ground worked in your ecosystem, think of easy ways to just make that pipe a little more useful? I'm sure I read of someone mostly using a trench full of wood-chips. There was still a tendency for the wood chips nearest the outlet of the pipe to get a bit ripe, so if those chips were covered with a board and lots of worms tossed in, you might find they'd take care of the problem for you?
 
Dan Fish
pollinator
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Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 7b
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Hi John,

Sorry I missed your reply.

Yeah the tank car was kind of a joke. I have been looking at the big greenish black "agricultural" tanks lately. Just a question of money right now. There are a lot of lazy weed growers here that use them for a season or two and then sell them for cheap if you come out and get em. My buddy got a 1500 gallon one for free just for moving the second one down the road! So just keeping an eye open. They get snatched up fast.

Our rainfall is generally pretty heavy when it comes (now days at least). Say an inch a day on average but I feel like I can only count on about 25 inches a year. Four years ago we had back to back 60+ inch years but it was drought before and it's drought after,

I can collect plenty off my house roof (900sqft of catchment) my garage (700sqft) and my woodshed (700sqft) but right now it's just storage that is lacking. I have 600 gallons off the shed and 600 off the house but obviously that number needs to grow massively.

 
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Southern Saskatchewan, an hour north of the MT border is my location. The drought has been extreme (likely worst ever) and the high heat is making the situation much worse. Has not been a very pleasant summer. I hate the winter but am starting to look forward to it now!

I have always been water conscious and use greywater to flush my toilet and for watering if extra is available. Water quality issues are becoming just as important as quantity. Water salinity has increased to the point that I am reluctant to use it on my garden and limit its use to high priority crops and and have let others go.

I am perhaps atypical for many on the site because I have nearly 900 acres of land, much of it pasture, which is for the most part not grazed and left as a biodiversity reserve. I also plant a lot of trees, usually several thousand a year but have lost most of my last 2 years of planting, ironically not due to drought but grasshoppers. This is especially unfortunate because a tree that dies of drought still provides information on tree care methods and  species suitability for current and future climates. A young tree that is destroyed by grasshoppers before it dies by drought (or not!) is just a loss.

I hope to invest in some water storage projects this fall. However, you can only store surplus water. Digging a hole requires you to wait for that time. The drought is not over and no one really know when it will be. Next week? Next year? Next decade? Who knows. Unfortunately, in my area I think the trend will NOT be our friend. I am preparing the best I can for hotter and drier.

The local cattle producers are eying my pasture longingly and I will likely soon rent some of it for grazing for the income. It is clear that there is far too many cattle on the landscape for its long term health and a herd reduction is needed but governments are determined to prevent that. It is also obvious that in dry landscapes very conservative grazing practices are required. Plant material remaining from years when moisture is more plentiful protects the soils from the heat and conserves moisture for extra growth in the dry years. It has definitely been a challenging year on all fronts.
 
master steward & author
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I've been following this thread with interest and trying to figure out if I qualify.

Drought means considerably less water than normal.  Since we don't have mountain-fed water here, it basically means less rainfall than normal.

On a normal year, we have between 0 and 4mm of water from May 1st to October 13th.

What's less than zero rainfall?  

Technically we can never have a drought.  

That doesn't make the lawn any less brown.



What we do have is a growing season.  It is between October and April.  You can tell this from the growth rings in the trees.  It's also our rainy and cold season.

- plan for staple crops that overwinter - like chickpeas and fava beans - so that they can grow their roots during the winter
- avoid mulch.  Mulch works in climates that have rain at least once a week - or irrigation.  It also doesn't work where the soil is oversaturated - anaerobic decomposition is not root-friendly
- capture the water in the soil during the rainy season - terrace, hugulekulture, whatever works
- if there is dew, capture it.
- save seeds to breed your own resilient crops that do well where YOU are.
- assume next year is going to be the worst year ever and plan ahead.  
- avoid infostructure heavy systems that need repair in hot or bad weather.  
 
Stacie Kim
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Posts: 497
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
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r ranson wrote:

- capture the water in the soil during the rainy season - terrace, hugulekulture, whatever works
- if there is dew, capture it.
- save seeds to breed your own resilient crops that do well where YOU are.
- assume next year is going to be the worst year ever and plan ahead.  
- avoid infostructure heavy systems that need repair in hot or bad weather.  



I like these strategies, r.

Two questions:
1. How do we capture dew? I've never even considered such a concept. I suppose it's because I live in an area where droughts are not a regular occurrence. However, I am trying to learn the mindset of "someday it might happen, so get ready now."

2. What would you call an "infostructure heavy system?" I've never heard that terminology.
 
r ranson
master steward & author
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1 airwells
(aka, big piles of rocks near the base of trees like we used to see in old homesteads)
and finding species that can capture their own dew (look to the Mediterranean)

2. anything that requires electricity, hoses, or costs time or money.  Like an irrigation system means we have to buy pipes, and repair pipes, and adjust pipes and find a way to make sure they turn on and off... very heavy infostructure to irrigate.  
 
Stacie Kim
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Ah, thank you for explaining.

I think many of us would do well to adopt your strategies. Even if you wouldn't say you're in a drought per se, the fact that you must make do with close to zero rainfall 6 months a year tells us that you have a trick or two up your sleeve for black-belt water conservation.
 
r ranson
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It might be a spelcheck error.  I want to say the word where you buy and install systems made from manufactured parts.

spellcheck says I want to say infostructure.  I am not sure it's right.  That might be the confusion.  

 
pollinator
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We haven't been on the property that long so are still very much a work in progress. My house has two 1500 gallon rainwater collection tanks, one of which sprang a leak last year. My hope is to get rid of the leaky one, move the 1500 gallon one to the chicken coop or the solar building, and replace them with 2 - 2500 gallon tanks. My daughters house is very large and has a 6 car carport, we would like to add 4 - 2500 tanks to it. Because of the drought, supply issues and a lack of workers, I'm not sure how easy it's going to be to get these things done, but that's the goal for the next couple years. We are currently working on a laundry to landscape system for the washing machine, it will primarily water some fruit trees. I like using a hose that I can move around so that no water sits around.

Our well is a low refresh well that feeds two holding tanks, about 5500 gallons.

We are using more water than I would like right now because most of the plants are new. In my food forests, I try to plant things together with similar watering needs with higher water need plants closer to the houses, both so that I can keep an eye on them and to provide a green zone to protect from fires.

In spite of two 116 days, and weeks of triple digit days, I've managed to keep most things alive, and sometimes thats the best you can hope for.
 
Abraham Palma
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Hey, I like the word 'infostructure'.
It's like informatic infrastructure. Meaning any infrastructure that requires an electronic device for working.

Yep, avoiding infostructure is a good advice!
 
Jay Angler
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Abraham Palma wrote:Hey, I like the word 'infostructure'.
It's like informatic infrastructure. Meaning any infrastructure that requires an electronic device for working.

Yep, avoiding infostructure is a good advice!

If you're referring to the need to keep water and plant infrastructure functioning without all those unfixable micro-computers and micro-chips that so much of our world is overflowing with (like over 20 in a new car), I would agree completely!

This is an approximate quote from a fictional Amish character, "We've got technology, it's just really dumb technology."  It's possible to make a decent rainwater filter system with sand, gravel, activated charcoal, screening and a pair of barrels or you can use fancy UV lights and filters that have to be replaced every 3 months and use electricity. Keeping things simple and long-lasting, as r ranson suggested, wherever possible sounds good to me.
 
John C Daley
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Have you become aware of the fog catchers.
Here is a link catching Dew and mists

Many ancient communities have done this.
Fog catching
 
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Central New Mexico here, I live atop a historically strong underground aquifer. local agriculture is pivot irrigation, sprinklers and the county sells our water to a golf course in Santa Fe county. Multiple wells have dried up the past couple of years, a neighbor has drilled two new wells in the last 3 years. Hemp farms have started up and closed within a single season because of the lack of water. Thinking of, conserving, planning and catching water has consumed my entire Summer.
I care for two horses that drink a whole lot but I'm determined to make this work. I have a shallow well and it's been good to me, though I only use it to fill the horse trough and the occasional outdoor shower.
I was gifted two 1250 gallon tanks last Spring and I added those to the other 4 tanks I've accumulated over the past 12 years. I'm retired and working with very little money, other wise I'd have installed a kick butt storage system by now. Guess I kind of like the challenge.
I use dish pans to wash dishes and dump them on tree roots. I keep a pan in the shower to catch as much of that water as i can. I only use a composting toilet , it freaks me out all the older women like myself that haul water to flush their toilets cause "outhouses are uncivilized".
This year I've added plastic totes, those small ones to store your Christmas decorations in, all around my round roofs or any place that I haven't gotten gutters up, yet. I even use them under gutter leaks and any place I see drip marks after a rain. my yard looks crazy but I collect enough water to care for a decent size garden and my budding cannabis business.
I hand carry every drop the plants receive so it makes for an intimate relationship and conservation. I'm developing a drought tolerant strain of cannabis and will be encouraging personal growers to do the same.
I live alone so I don't shower much and I can make a pair of jeans last days, haha, a big difference from my youth.
My aged well pump is acting funny and my son and I are watching videos to pull it ourselves. It maybe the well but if it's just the pump, Ill be thrilled. We've set up a system so that water from one cistern is pumped into the house with a small transfer pump and pressure tank so the horses are now my only concern. I'm dreaming ( this is a weird yet powerful way for me to make things happen) of a 40 x 40 foot roof over the existing horse shelter and the biggest tank I can manifest to water the horses from.
I plant only drought tolerant trees and feel the trees are super important to the ecosystem, though my neighbors are cutting their's down as they think the trees are drinking all of their well water. everyone in the neighborhood is on a different page regarding their water use. I went ahead this Spring and planted a bunch of annual flowers, it seemed silly at the time but the bees, birds and moths are happy. I mulch everything as deep as i can to keep the ground from becoming sun baked. paths are raised so water runs off into surrounding plants. I've added fences/windbreaks and things tend to grow better up against the fence and the ground stays moister there.
In a sick way I think about the aquifer drying up and mostly everyone moving away. I can then catch water off of their roofs and let my horses roam and graze. they drink a lot less water when they are able to eat fresh grass. it's a dark dream but also entertaining.
 
Stacie Kim
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Deb, you said:

I went ahead this Spring and planted a bunch of annual flowers, it seemed silly at the time but the bees, birds and moths are happy.



How have your pollinators fared? My sister in Central CA lost all her honeybees. She was devastated.
 
Deb Fearon
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I don't keep bees as I never know what the growing season will be like from year to year, but wild bees have been around. Not as many as years past but they do come around. A lot of tarantula hornets.
I've seen a lot less birds this year than usual, there was a strange die-off last fall.
i have a strange abundance of lizards and orb weavers. my greenhouse is so full of webs, i have to carve a path through, sometimes ducking under them.
I feel we've passed the place of normal and what's happened historically and in a new reality where it's vastly different from what we've become used to.
 
Abraham Palma
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@John C Daily
I'm very skeptical about fog catchers. The project that is more advertised in internet is just a research project, they say nothing about profitability. This project is likely to have cheap financial founding or sponsors.
The one place I know that captures dew for real is in Tenerife, a volcanic island where fog is very common and abundant while rain is scarce. And then, fog catchers are located at very high altitude.

The other famed project, one tower made of stone, produced water but it isn't in service. The amount of water it produced does not justify the cost. A pile of rocks can dip some water, but only if it's not excessively hot which is the case in my location. Stones exposed to sun just burn the plants around and don't hold moisture. We really should learn what technology works for the place we are working with.

What really turned me against this technology was to realize that many plants are already good fog catchers. Any plant that thrives in a place with frequent fog and little rain is probably a good fog catcher. So, why to use huge and ugly plastic nets that pollute and must be maintained when we already have plants that do this for free?
 
pollinator
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ATTENTION THOSE WHO LIVE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA and use a well.  
You need to register your well with the government, before March 1, 2022

Many are unaware that in 2016 the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) instituted a program  to register every single private/domestic well; it is mandatory.  Those not registered by next year will lose their grandfathered rights to use their well(s); well rights will then be granted on a first come, first serve basis, regardless of the wells historical use or need, for domestic purposes.  There are no fees/water usage charges for domestic use, but for others the licensing clarifies how much water can legally be used, and pay water fees and rentals.  

[i]"In the WSA, groundwater use is considered domestic when the water is used for household purposes in a private dwelling. Household purposes include drinking water, food preparation, cleaning, fire prevention, providing water for animals or poultry kept as pets or for household use, and small garden 1000 m2. Find the full definition in Section 2 of the WSA."


New Requirements for Groundwater Users

If you divert and use groundwater for non-domestic purposes, you must now obtain a water licence and pay water fees and rentals. This change came into force with the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) on February 29, 2016.

Excluded Users

If you are a well owner and you use water for domestic purposes, you are exempt from licensing and paying provincial water fees and rentals.  However, domestic groundwater users are deemed to have rights to the water they use for domestic purposes. Domestic groundwater users are encouraged to register their well.  Registering your well creates a record of your water use and helps to ensure that your use is considered by the decision makers dealing with other licence applications.  Contact FrontCounter BC to determine if your well record already exists in the provincial database.  If no record exists, complete a Well Registration Form and email it to Groundwater@gov.bc.ca or mail it to the address provided.

Registration is just for domestic use. Do not complete a registration form if you are a non-domestic user.

"Transitioning to Groundwater Licensing

The first six years of the WSA are a transition period to bring in approximately 20,000 existing non-domestic groundwater users into the current water licensing scheme and its first-in-time, first-in-right (FITFIR) priority system. If you are an existing non-domestic groundwater user, you must apply within the six-year transition period to maintain your date of precedence. If you submit your application on or before March 1, 2022, your one-time application fees will be waived."

"Date of precedence

Senior licensees are given priority over junior licensees when it comes to exercising their full rights to water. If you are an existing user and you apply for a water licence during the first six years of the WSA (February 29, 2016 to March 1, 2022), you will be granted a date of precedence based on the date you began using groundwater, as determined by evidence submitted with the application. If you wait to apply until after March 1, 2022, you will be treated as a new applicant and given a junior priority date based on the date of your application."


   Find out how the date of precedence affects your access to water[/i]

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/water-licensing-rights/water-licences-approvals/new-requirements-for-groundwater-users


"Domestic well owners are encouraged to register their well for free to make their water use known so it can be protected. Existing users must apply by March 1, 2022."

Groundwater Licensing - Government of B.C.
https://www2.gov.bc.ca › gw_licensing_brochure
PDF

"Registering your domestic well creates a record of your water use, which helps to ensure that your use is considered in decision making and during times of water scarcity."

"Complete a well registration form (PDF) and email it to Groundwater@gov.bc.ca or mail to the address provided.

Before Submitting:

   Ensure your well is used for domestic purposes only.
   Complete all required information.
   Attach a sketch or map depicting where the well is located on the property.
   Provide any supporting documentation (e.g., well construction report) if available.
   Sign the well registration form.

Multiple submissions for the same domestic well will impede effective processing of the well registration.


By email: groundwater@gov.bc.ca  

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/groundwater-wells-aquifers/groundwater-wells/well-records-registration
 
John C Daley
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Thats a good idea.
Over time the full withdraw load on the ground water will be known, and steps can be taken to keep it healthy.
Recharge, overuse, pollution etc
 
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r ranson wrote:1 airwells
(aka, big piles of rocks near the base of trees like we used to see in old homesteads)



Do you have a picture?  Or can you explain this better?  Are the rocks around the trunk, like a mulch?  This intrigues me.
 
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I now live in the humid east (Since Nov. 2020), but did farm in northern CA for 17 years, the last 8.5 years in an inland Mendocino County climate.  A dry farmed apple tree next to a seasonal watercourse (only ran a few days following rain) had Brix 24 fruit!  Can't do that in the east!  Jujubes were a great crop we barely watered (a few times in Aug-Sept as fruit ripened).  Leaving more plants present was essential; made years of mistakes pulling weeds.  Citrus got our kitchen sink water (carried around as doing grey water system was too involved with a hanging insulation underneath we did not want to cut into) until I added more drip irrigation.  Walnut trees got little water but they were in a sloping flat area just below a slow spring.  We sure miss that abundant food forest and gardens we had, BUT with so little rain last 2 winters (26.5 and 20" rather than the "drought" years with between 36-46" over 5 years 2013-18 and "normal" of 50-55 inches between Oct and April),  I can imagine the new owners are struggling.  One advantage we had was that the land was a bowl which concentrated the rainfall.  We had a spring and as season went on switched more and more zones to pond water (2 acre feet or so), all gravity fed.  Quite a magical spot, but too many fires in 2017 on the land (burned orchard and some of garden) and family would not move and build family compound there, so we moved east once we got the orchard replanted and starting to bear.
 
Lori Ziemba
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I always hesitate to jump into these conversations with the big guns, LOL, because my experience is so scaled down.  I live in a tiny apartment, and have a 40 sq. ft. plot in a community garden.  I also have started reviving and renovating the small backyard of my building.

So, FWIW, this is the wisdom of my very limited experience:

I've been living in San Francisco for 38 years.  It's a sort of half-assed Mediterranean climate, except the summers are cool and foggy, not hot and sunny.
We have a rainy season and a dry season.  The rainy seasons have gotten noticeably shorter and drier in the 38 years I've been here.  So, less rain in less time.  Rain used to start in early November.  Last year, it didn't start until mid December, and we didn't get much.  It ends around the beginning of March, but by then, its just drizzle.  The big rain comes in January and February.

It doesn't freeze here.  Even frost has become quite rare the past few years.  It's a LOT warmer than it used to be, all year round.  I used to need a hat and wool coat and even gloves in winter.  I used to put sweaters on my dogs!  Now, it's a very rare day that is cold enough for that.

So, we've got a triple edged sword of a problem here: less rain, in less time, with warmer temps.

I've been experimenting for years in my small plot and surrounding common areas, and have found that so many ideas that sounded good just don't work for me here, in this place.  Hugelkulture sounded like a great idea.  I tried burying a lot of tree trimmings at the garden, and mulching on top.  Those branches are still there, 3 years later.  And they weren't logs, just smallish branches.  Stuff just doesn't break down.  It desiccates and becomes a fire hazard.  

I tried woodchip mulch.  It works fairly well for the fruit trees at holding in moisture, but in the plot, it becomes a refuge for slugs when the rest of the garden is dust.  Same thing with straw/hay/leaves, etc.

The soil is crappy here.  Basically dusty sand.  You add humus and manure, and it gets sucked down and disappears.  Honestly, where does it go?

This is what has worked best for me: Terra Preta and ollas.  3 years ago, I dug up my plot, and removed as many weeds as possible.  We are infested with oxalis and nutsedge here, and I swear, those damn Hellplants have 47 different ways to reproduce.    

I then added 300 pounds of steer manure, a large bag of biochar, 30 pounds of plain clay kitty litter, a bag of organic vegetable fertilizer, another bag of bone meal, kelp, and mycorrhiza spores.  I put in ollas, which are just clay flowerpots with a cork in the hole buried to within an inch of the rim, topped by saucers and a rock.  

I grow 2 gardens a year with this system.  Every spring, I add about 100 pounds of steer manure.  I add vegetable fertilizer and bone meal around individual plants as needed.  I think this year, when my summer garden is finished, I will add a few more bags of kitty litter and some more biochar.

The difference in yield is amazing and stupendous.  In the winter, I barely have to water, altho I do like to keep the ollas topped up.  In the summer, I go up there twice a week to fill the ollas, which are empty, and I do water the soil.  If my ollas were bigger and of a proper shape, I think I might not need to water the soil at all.  And I have to water when the plants are seedlings, until their roots reach the ollas.  The ollas DO attract slugs, but again, if they were the proper shape with proper lids, I think it wouldn't be a problem.  

So, that's my small solution to drought.  Here are some pix:

 
20190716_135658.jpg
Corn growth, the first year.
Corn growth, the first year.
1008191433-01.jpg
Olla placement, first year.
Olla placement, first year.
0803211326-00.jpg
Sunflowers, this year.
Sunflowers, this year.
 
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John C Daley wrote:Carl, the issue of the solids in the grey water can be sorted.
What is the flow system from the sink to the red bed?

From; pod tank system
Sensible care must be taken to ensure that excess fats, oil and grease (FOG) are kept out of the system as far as is possible as it will clog the FilterPod media and the plant will not work.

Reed bed systems are not low maintenance and you need a regular maintenance program to keep them working properly.
Weeds grow in among the reeds, reducing efficiency and requiring removal on a regular basis. The reeds also need regular pruning, uprooting and thinning out.



I am not familiar with this system. Is this one that you are selling?

I really have a permaculture orchard, rather than a farm, although it's kind of a garden.  Here in the PNW, as R Ranson and others have said, we get lots of rain in between November and April, then hardly any for months in between July and October, when you might need it the most. We've had temps of 107, 108, 112, and 116 F so far, and the summer isn't over!

My main strategy is for most of the area to be covered somewhat by a diverse tree leaf canopy.  I grow a lot of flowers, vegetables and berry bushes in between them and behind them in a semi-shade situation.   I also use biochar, mulch, drip irrigation, and compost.  The hardest thing is paying enough attention to little seedling plants so they don't get burned or eaten by slugs.
John S
PDX OR
 
Lori Ziemba
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Bill Taylor wrote:I now live in the humid east (Since Nov. 2020),



Where abouts?  I'm originally from NY, and have been thinking of going back.  The winters and the lack of Mexican food have been preventing me...



A dry farmed apple tree next to a seasonal watercourse (only ran a few days following rain) had Brix 24 fruit!



Brix 24???  What does that mean?
 
Stacy Witscher
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I moved from the SF Bay Area with an average rainfall of 21 inches to southern Oregon with an average rainfall of 26 inches but in a lot of ways it was easier in the Bay. The weather is milder there so things need watering less often. Where I am now, almost nothing actually wants full sun in the summer. I have attached shade cloth (left by previous owner) to the chain link fencing around the raised bed garden, this has helped a lot. I have four beds under trees, this year they had large leafed squash plants, helped with the late afternoon wilting. Almost all of the beds are mixed crops, like cucumbers under corn. I try to keep the soil covered and shaded.
 
r ranson
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Lori Ziemba wrote:

r ranson wrote:1 airwells
(aka, big piles of rocks near the base of trees like we used to see in old homesteads)



Do you have a picture?  Or can you explain this better?  Are the rocks around the trunk, like a mulch?  This intrigues me.



https://permies.com/t/airwell
 
John C Daley
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John Suavecito,  dont sell any systems, I am aware of the company though.
 
There are 10 kinds of people in this world. Those that understand binary get this tiny ad:
Pre-order for "Tour of Wheaton Labs, the Movie!"
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