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not watering vegetables  RSS feed

 
Pennie O'Grady
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I am very intrigued by the "no watering" ideas presented by sepp holzer in Austria.  I saw this in some videos and wonder how this applies to Seattle vegetables, especially new ones and August.  Other gardeners warn about the loss of nutrients and plant viability when plants are left to "wilt it out".  It's so hard to know which way to follow being that I am a new gardener..... Any experiences to share?

 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 21973
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Sepp has one thing you don't:  100 acres. 

He can toss his seed everywhere and wander around to harvest. 

He also has 70 ponds and little creeks between the ponds.  While a lettuce plant in the sun will die in august, the same kind of lettuce is probably doing pretty good right next to the water

Plus, a pile of rocks in the sun, about ten feet away from a bunch of tap root trees/bushes/annuals (or a pond, or creek) will effectively water whatever is around it through the summer (water will condense on the stones under the stack)

In Seattle, there is a lot of cement and bare roofs. 

Mulch helps a lot.  But in Seattle, mulch attracts slugs, pill bugs, rove beetles, symphylans, etc.  All of these can be mitigated. 

I think the best thing to do is to start with anything.  Grow stuff.  Try to use as little water as possible.  Mulch with stones and branches, and leaves and any yard waste.  But I would still water once in a while.

 
Pennie O'Grady
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Yeah, you've got a point there with that 100 acres and 70 ponds!

Ah well.  I do appreciate the prompting to just plant stuff and see what happens next.  I'm working on that.  My sheet mulched garden beds are going lots more slowly than my next door neighbor's double dug beds -- both first time garden(er)s.  I'm not sure what to make of this -- a mixture of jealousy and just plain pleased with myself for getting things going.

Pennie
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 21973
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Digging ....  there is a balance between "till" and "no till" gardening.

If the soil is awful, digging it up helps a lot - especially if you can work in some organic matter along the way.

But keep in mind, every time you break the soil, you release 30% of your humus to the air.  So if you dig it up often enough, you can convert excellent soil into cement-like dirt. 

Once the soil is doing okay and has a good earthworm population, you don't need to dig any more.  The earthworms will make spaces for the air and water to travel - plus they will work more and more organic matter into the soil.  You won't need to till any more!  In fact, if you mulch with organic matter, your soil will quickly become richer and richer every year.

 
Pennie O'Grady
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My soil is heavy into earthworms.  The ground has been "fallow" for the 12 years we've lived here (all grass cut stayed here, lots of dandelions and clover).  I sheet composted by cutting down the grass and other weedy plants, watering, spreading brown cardboard (I now know, not your thing), watering more, adding a few inches of composted horse manure, another inch or so of worm castings, handfuls of fish fertilizer, and topping it off with a few layers of burlap.  I let that sit for 1 - 2 months before digging holes over time to plant starts along with some Walt's organic fertilizer.  LOADS of worms!  There had been a blue spruce growing there a couple years ago (I did take that one down so I had some sun to grow vegetables, and have been making use of the woodchips for paths and mulching -- what do you think about mulching raspberries with semi-composted blue spruce?).

The vegetable growth is slow, but nothing looks diseased or munched upon.
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 21973
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I read something a few years ago where dozens of different mulches were tried on raspberries.  The big winner was sawdust!

I'm generally against using coniferous wood products, but in this case, I think it is the best path.
 
                                
Posts: 44
Location: Middle Georgia
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just as a note i dont know the specific requirements for raspberries but sawdust will compact easily making the soil not drain properly and it leeches nitrogen from the soil so you may not want to go the sawdust route.
 
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