Tristan Vitali wrote:
Diversity in all things definitely has worked out well for me with what I actually plant in the gardens. I polyculture to the point it feels like you're foraging for wildcrafted crops I usually shoot for 8 species per bed - for example, imagine carrots and onions with bush beans, interplanted with cabbages and cherry tomatoes, all set around a few perennials like a young apple tree, some bush cherries, clumps of comfrey, oregano or peppermint, then surrounded with a few varieties self-seeding or perennial flowers like shasta daisy, brown eye susans, lobelia and field chicory. Add in your regular edible and medicinal "weeds" such as dandelions, plantains and sorrel and you end up with such a diverse polyculture, neither humans or pests know what they're looking at Out of this, production of any one thing might be less per square foot, but there's always something doing well, even in the more extreme conditions in a given year. Too much dry heat might knock the white potatoes, cabbages and broccoli back, causing stunting, bolting, internal necrosis and pest issues, but the established peppers, beans, squash and sunflowers will thrive. Too much cool and wet might cause mold, rot and stunting for the eggplants and melons, but fava bean, snap peas, lettuce and swiss chard will still likely produce well.
Things is a little different here in the 10b grow zone. We grow year rounds, which is an advantage, but because of the extreme weather, we have to split up, as in some vegetables feels that it’s too hot in the summer like cabbages and broccoli. I only have lots of herbs between early May and late August, and most of them are done once we get to solstice. Pumpkins and squash do well, and so does tomatoes and cucumbers, except this year, where they failed. Most seedlings can’t be planted outside until after Solstice, since the temperatures fluctuate a lot from March until mid June. It’s hard to find perineals that can handle the temperatures. We have days when it’s 26F at night and then it will be 80f or 90f during the day. I am slowly finding them. I am making friends with like minded people in our area, and we have exchanged plants and knowledge.
Excellent I almost envy the year round growing, but I know the challenges there are just as difficult as our blizzards, ice storms and negative 40 windchills.
Don't forget your climate analogs. High mountain deserts throughout middle to southern asia have similar conditions. Likely some areas in the andes as well. Definitely worth looking into not only the crops traditionally grown in those areas but also the forest and ecosystem types, various families and species that are common to these types of areas, and so on, so you can look for the more usable (edible, medicinal, etc) varieties to try. Mark Shepard is big on using this climate analog technique to find plants for a given system - mimic what nature wants to do on your land but use the varieties you find useful. Land / topsoil degradation and overall resource mismanagement do lead to serious confusion sometimes, such as the extremely arid, desert-seeming conditions now in areas near you that were once inhabited by millions of beavers busily trapping and holding water on the landscape everywhere they could. It's important to look back through history because what once was might not be today, even though the conditions are present for it.