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Any tips for the hot, humid, damp south-east?  RSS feed

 
Claire Beaumont
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Aranya, what botanical zones are primarily covered in your book? Any clues for those of us in the damp, humid, and HOT southeastern regions?
Thanks, will be listening to your podcast with the wild man!
Claire Beaumont
 
Aranya
Author
Posts: 42
Location: Seaton, Devon, England
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Hi Claire,

I've never been near your part of the world, but it sounds sticky!

My book doesn't actually cover botanical zones, it's instead a pattern for going through a design process from start to finish, putting all the different design tools and methods into context. It was designed to fill the gap in the existing literature and not to replicate what is well written about elsewhere. It will help you get to the point where you can figure out which of the many techniques we often see in permaculture systems are most appropriate for where you are - even if that's hot & sticky!
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Botanical zones might be a gap that needs to be filled....
and this is more than one gap!
As many as climates.

And not only botanical zones!
I cannot measure the way you say with buildings and trees, as I cannot pace in the air between most of my trees.
So, tricks for flat zones, tricks for sloppy places...

But mainly and seriously, there is a need for something about putting theory in practice according to the main zones.
For Example Claire, hot and humid is not even enough: do you have winter or summer rain? Or evenly throughout the year?
(and I would love to know the answer!)

I have a few tricks, as I arrived in a place where I had to adapt:
* I Ask local people, they know things that can be done.
(usually they will not know why, they just learned it this way)
* I Ask non local people who arrived some years ago!
They will laugh at their 1st mistakes and tell you what to do.
(mistakes are said to be a learning tool only as a compensation... I do not believe it is the best!)
And they will know, by comparison, WHY they do something.
Minimize mistakes, some did them for you.
* I found myself a great interest in geography!
Do you have any idea of the places on earth having the closest climate to yours?
-> Define your climate: amount of rain, when, average temp, mini and maxi, air humidity...
-> make a line around the globe with your latitude. Is there the same climate in other similar latitude? Are you at the latitude of thailand or not?
Same with the other hemisphere... Then see the differences and find where is close to your climate. It helps me for several things:
- understand my climate.
- find new plants to introduce. (so when I look for south african plants, I look west, and you should look east if more humid!)
- Find forum topics from people in similar climate.
- Make the best guess for adapting plants that are not exactly from the same climate as mine.

Hope to give you ideas!
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 406
Location: Georgia
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Claire there is a bit of an information gap for us in the South. A great many of the permaculture
favorites like gooseberries just can't take the heat. Bill Mollison loves scarlet runner beans and I have had
very little production from them after it heats up. We can however grow anything we could always grow and
do it better. My list of successful plants: tomato, lettuce in spring, swiss chard, parsley, garlic, onions, all chives,
rosemary, thyme, fig trees, green beans, nasturtium, lima beans, malabar spinach, spinach, sweat peas, field peas,
arugula, cantaloupe, watermelon, sweat potatoes, irish potatoes, mulberry, eleagnus, daylily, muscadines, scuppernongs.
Peppers of all types, corn, broccoli, peanuts, kale, persimmon, okra. All the usual stuff and this is not the half of it.

There a perennials, bi-annuals and annuals on this short working list of things that don't require much pampering to
do pretty good. Some obvious things are not on there because things eat them, etc.



 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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When is it raining in Florida? Which months?
Do you also know the average annual quantity of water?
I am curious...
 
Joshua Finch
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Utilize shade. Depends on where you are, but in the Piedmont of NC our best results with typical garden annuals came from those plants which were subject to shade during the heat of the day. One thing I wanted to try before I moved (family still may) would be building large arbor with a perennial vine and growing crops underneath. Go vertical and utilize layers.

Continuously crop. Use microclimates to keep cool season crops in production throughout winter.

Only rarely should soil be exposed to direct sunlight.

But I guess it really comes down to... what are your goals? Pretty much everything depends on where you live and what you want to accomplish.

 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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Alex Ames wrote:Claire there is a bit of an information gap for us in the South.


I completely agree. It's not a simple question of "is it too hot" or "is it too cold" but rather that it's hot in the summer but cold in the winter. For example in my area, many zone 7 plants won't do well here because it's too hot, but I can't grow zone 8 plants because it gets too cold in the winter, yet it's not cool enough for a root cellar to work. And bugs and diseases and awful weeds? We have those in plenitude.

That said, we have a lot of things going for us -- a long growing season and ample rainfall, even if we don't get much in the summer growing season. I can grow something edible all year long and many things overwinter. I can grow annuals and herbs like gangbusters, but most fruit trees are a lost cause and there aren't many perennials that fit the bill except some really tough ones like asparagus. I wouldn't trade our issues to live somewhere colder... although a lot of days I miss living in the balmy and relatively mild climate of either northern or southern California. Well, the gardener misses living there.

It may not be technically permaculture, but I focus a lot of attention on breeding plants and saving seeds, because that's what works here.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 406
Location: Georgia
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Nicole talk to me about that dark red soil in your area. I assume your soil is at least similar
to what I have seen under cultivation between you and Decatur, Al. It appears nearly black in
the winter and blood red most of the time. I am familiar with more orange looking clay so I
believe that is a different animal all together.

Let's add asparagus and blueberries to my good list. Although I had no production on the asparagus
this year much. The drought was hard on them and I let them recuperate this year. I had a great crop
of blueberries and ate most of them due to installing bird netting. I think that is a must for me. Of the
popular fruit trees probably pears stand the best chance in a permaculture setting.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1320
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I agree with this gap, especially about plants hardiness.

One can find easily the information about the minimum temperature a plant can stand...
But what's about the plant's necessity of cold?
Can it stand cold, or NEED cold?
(goji seems a good example, I guess they NEED some cold)

And what's about the heat a plant can stand?

It is also difficult to find the information about summer rain or winter rain necessities for a plant.
 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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Alex Ames wrote:Nicole talk to me about that dark red soil in your area. I assume your soil is at least similar
to what I have seen under cultivation between you and Decatur, Al.


I know exactly what you are talking about, but I don't have it. I have a gravelly cherty silt loam and it's brown.

That particular dark red dirt is along the I-565 corridor and northward a bit. It's pure clay. It's deep, holds a lot of moisture and is well drained, no doubt due to the limestone karst underneath. Most of the clay in the rest of the area is more orange, like our limestone rocks; I have no idea what makes this stuff so much darker.

I have friends who have it. It's really fertile but it's very low in organic matter and extremely dense when wet and rock hard when dry. I don't know anyone that would attempt to work it by hand. It stains clothing very badly. Roots crops are out of the question, but row crops do very well without any kind of irrigation or mulch; they have bumper harvests every year. Mostly you see commodity crops there, though, soy, cotton and corn.

Let's add asparagus and blueberries to my good list. Although I had no production on the asparagus
this year much. The drought was hard on them and I let them recuperate this year. I had a great crop
of blueberries and ate most of them due to installing bird netting. I think that is a must for me. Of the
popular fruit trees probably pears stand the best chance in a permaculture setting.


I had a good year for blueberries and blackberries; tasty and plentiful. I have mine in a very dry shady spot up under some trees; it's a tough spot but the native plants do okay. The drought came after harvest and while the blueberries took a beating they seem to be okay. The blackberries may be a lost cause but at least most of them aren't dead yet. I couple of good/normal years will set them to rights. If it's any consolation, almost all of the native/weedy foliage died back there in the drought, too. I just planted an old variety of fig tree (Celeste) where some of the blackberries were lost.

I have more blueberries elsewhere -- deeper shade but not so dry -- and they are doing very well. The under-planting of strawberries is very high quality... when I beat the slugs and ants to them. Both want more sun than they are getting, though. I am starting a strawberry bed in the sun next year.

My jujubes, paw paws, asian pears and persimmons shrugged off the drought and are unbothered by much of anything. My young apples and crabapples and quince are doing okay but we have cedar apple rust so getting quality fruit will be a tough problem. Most people think of stone fruits when they think of growing their own, and that's a career within itself with all the disease and pest pressure. I leave the peach and plum growing to the local professional orchards.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1320
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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What kind of blueberry can stand the heat? I thought it was a lost cause for my place! You give me some hope!
 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:What kind of blueberry can stand the heat? I thought it was a lost cause for my place! You give me some hope!


Rabbiteye blueberries range natively down into Florida. Also, some of the the Southern Highbush varieties have been hybridized for low chill and drier, hotter conditions. Maybe checking the web sites of California nurseries like Dave Wilson will give you some specific varieties. I would think lack of water might be your biggest hurdle -- you need water at the right time for good berries. Also, it's hard to fake the acidic soils they like if you don't have them natively.

Funny thing is, just yesterday I pulled some dried berries off my Rabbiteye "Powder Blue" plants -- berries that dried up from lack of water when the drought hit late in blueberry season. I understand raising blueberries from seed is a tough task, but if you want to try I will be happy to mail them to you. There's probably 60-70 berries and multiple seeds in each. They won't be true to type, but that's okay since you need two varieties anyway for fruit production.

Stratifying them should handle any potential hitchhikers that we don't want to introduce to the Islands.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1320
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Thanks for the proposal!
Anyway, no nursery will ship plants abroad. I have to start all newbies from seed...
And if you want tagasaste, this I have at home!
So if I know how to handle them as seeds and sprout them, it can be worth a try, let's see if it is reasonable (it might not be when I look on Internet, very border line, but I love the fruit).

My soil is not very acidic, but it is. May be over the recommended 5,2 maximum... But I have loads of pine needles.

If they are not true to type, then I can by chance have some of your 2 varieties, and they will pollinate.
You have powder blue, what is you other one? Tifblue that is also mid-season?
(Haha, that is my new knowledge direct from the net!)
http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1078/ANR-1078.pdf

They just do not tell WHEN they ripe, I just know it is summer...
Then, I will have to water them, as they need water when they have the berries, or else the juice will go away during drought...
I know you are in a hot place, but do you have summer rain?
And do you have them in the sun?

I have a climate more similar to California, rain sometimes from November to April. Are they known to grow in Ca. though they are not native there?

About chilling hours, will they accept not to have any real cold? My "cold" is 50°F....

I do not have blueberry bee, but I have bumblebees, then... new food for them!

That's Sherlock Holmes investigation... A permacultural pleasure!
 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:If they are not true to type, then I can by chance have some of your 2 varieties, and they will pollinate.
You have powder blue, what is you other one? Tifblue that is also mid-season?


I also have "Bluecrop" which is not doing very well (a northern highbush) and "Climax" (another rabbiteye), which is doing the best of the group but doesn't taste as good as the Powder Blue. Unfortunately, I do not have any old fruit hanging on the plants for them -- I just checked. However, since the seeds don't come true from type, if you start from seeds you'll have all different genotypes, so they should pollinate each other.


They just do not tell WHEN they ripe, I just know it is summer...
Then, I will have to water them, as they need water when they have the berries, or else the juice will go away during drought...
I know you are in a hot place, but do you have summer rain?
And do you have them in the sun?


We typically do not get much summer rain. Blueberries form here during the spring and early summer, and I harvest in June and/or July. They will need sufficient water during fruit formation, or you get little hard pellets like these are. They also need some water during the later summer/early fall (September-ish here) in order to set buds for the following year. "They" say to plant blueberries in sun, but in the wild they grow well under the tree canopy and along the edges. Mine are in a fair amount of shade. The Climax only gets a couple of hours of direct summer sun and the others get about 4-5 hours.

I have a climate more similar to California, rain sometimes from November to April. Are they known to grow in Ca. though they are not native there?


Lots of blueberries are grown commercially in CA, but I don't know which exact varieties.

About chilling hours, will they accept not to have any real cold? My "cold" is 50°F....


Hmmm. Chill hours are technically any hour spent under 45F. Powder Blue needs about 400 chill hours; what grows from its seed no doubt will probably vary some. I don't know if there are any blueberries that could tolerate no chilling hours at all. If the temp never or only very rarely falls below 50F, blueberries may not work for you.

I don't think tagasaste would survive here It gets down to about 0F (-18 C) here every few years. Too bad -- I am going to need a small tree or shrub with very deep roots soon to help hold down a small sharp slope that's eroding and otherwise it would fit the bill.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1320
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Oops, you are north of Alabama and not near Florida!
And too bad you cannot either use vetiver, the best for this use is warm climates.

I know some people, in the same island and same town, who have some fog in summer and down to 40°F in winter, so more wet and colder.
Blueberry might work for them! (and I can go picking one day!). We are said to have 5000 micro-climate here...

I have found that exists some varieties in California and even Hawai!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccinium_ovatum
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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Nicole thanks for the info on the "red dirt", it certainly does grow some nice crops!

My whole property would be a black berry patch if I disappeared for a year or two. I should be
taking a hint and growing more of it but that will dawn on me some day. Last year the birds ate
my entire blueberry crop. This year the netting solved that. This fall caterpilers have eaten the
leaves off of a lot of myblueberries before I can catch them. Have you experienced that? The earliest
victims seem to be putting out new leaves so I don't think they are hurting anything much.
 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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Alex Ames wrote:This fall caterpilers have eaten the
leaves off of a lot of myblueberries before I can catch them. Have you experienced that? The earliest
victims seem to be putting out new leaves so I don't think they are hurting anything much.


I think I've had caterpillars eat everything else, but not blueberries.
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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Nicole Castle wrote:
Alex Ames wrote:This fall caterpilers have eaten the
leaves off of a lot of myblueberries before I can catch them. Have you experienced that? The earliest
victims seem to be putting out new leaves so I don't think they are hurting anything much.


I think I've had caterpillars eat everything else, but not blueberries.



I appreciate how you spelled caterpillar correctly! This time of year there is nothing much for them to hurt but I wouldn't like
to see them when the fruit is on there.

The recent rains have given me hope for continued good gardening into the fall. I am going to try to start closing the loop
by using mostly mulches from my property and manure from people who I can ask about their chemical use, etc.
 
Marc Troyka
pollinator
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Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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Don't forget pecans and peanuts, the staples of the south . We also have a lot of native red mulberries that we've been propagating, although I haven't had a chance to taste them. Most of the berries stay up high and the birds and squirrels ransack the tree every year.

We also recently planted a cherry tree that came from a vegetative shoot off a tree that was behind a business. The parent tree was neglected, but produced prolifically anyway. I've also noticed that the tree that grew out of it is much larger and more vigorous than any grafted cherry tree I've ever seen. So, I wouldn't write off stone fruits so easily, but I'd plant them from seed and only plant a few of them spread out and well protected from wind and heat by other trees.

One other thing, down here in sauna land trees make the difference between roasting and comfort. If you have a large enough area, maybe 100 acres or so, and plant it well with tree cover, you can easily lower the temperature by 10degF compared to the surrounding area. Using the partial shade to your advantage you could get lots of things to grow.
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Huckleberries (V. ovatum referenced above) are similar to blueberries, but have a different flavor (and number of seeds). They grow very well in the Cascades near our area.

Southern highbush varieties can also do well with very few chilling hours. Sunshine Blue and Misty have very tasty berries.

Aliceblue was our favorite rabbiteye blueberry variety - delicious and much more productive than other rabbiteyes that we tried.
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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M Troyka wrote:Don't forget pecans and peanuts, the staples of the south . We also have a lot of native red mulberries that we've been propagating, although I haven't had a chance to taste them. Most of the berries stay up high and the birds and squirrels ransack the tree every year.

We also recently planted a cherry tree that came from a vegetative shoot off a tree that was behind a business. The parent tree was neglected, but produced prolifically anyway. I've also noticed that the tree that grew out of it is much larger and more vigorous than any grafted cherry tree I've ever seen. So, I wouldn't write off stone fruits so easily, but I'd plant them from seed and only plant a few of them spread out and well protected from wind and heat by other trees.

One other thing, down here in sauna land trees make the difference between roasting and comfort. If you have a large enough area, maybe 100 acres or so, and plant it well with tree cover, you can easily lower the temperature by 10degF compared to the surrounding area. Using the partial shade to your advantage you could get lots of things to grow.


We had people in our neighborhood growing up who had cherries. We always ate them for them I am
ashamed to say. I hardly ever had a bad thought on my own but I had friends who hardly ever had a good
thought.
 
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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