• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

3rd year of absolutely horrendous droughts here..losing trees and perennials

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is our third year of absolutely the worst droughts I ever remember in our area.. They have a name for it on the weather channel "the northern Michigan split". The rain clouds have been splitting up and going either North of Traverse city or South of Cadillac Michigan leaving our area without a drop of rain for weeks on end. Then when we do get rain it isn't enough. For me to water the property at all I can use soaker hoses on some of the more important things..but the water is ice cold coming out of the well. Can't put water on out of the pond as the pond is nearly dry...and the critters and fish in it would die if it went dry.

Thankfully the areas where we have buried wood in the ground are doing better than other areas..however the TOPS of the hugel beds are dry as dust..the west side is doing OK..esp near the bottom of the mound...but if we don't get some rain soon we'll lose everything.

All the berries including wild berries in the woods have dried all up, except the ones growing on larger trees like the wild cherries. There are a lot of apples but they are late and small and some of the trees are really suffering.

we are beginning to lose larger older trees in our area too and with the trees being weak from no rain, they are succumbing to diseases and bugs.

I'm just so glad we did put in the hugel beds when we did and the soaker hoses as we have been able to save a few of our crops..but with most of them planted too far away from our home to reach with hoses..there isn't much ability to save those things.

one of our neighbors has water going on their gardens from their pond, and so they have managed to save their crops..but our pond has no inlet so we can't so that.

mulch has also helped a great deal..around our baby fruit trees..I've had two of them lose all their leaves but the other ones are hanging on by the hair of their chinny chin chin..

there is no rain in the forcast for the next weeek and temps in the upper 80's forcasted..not sure what will be left after another week of no rain ?
 
James Colbert
Posts: 265
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Brenda, sorry to hear about your lack of rain. Any chance of petitioning your county to plant more trees? That is the only reliable solution i know of to low rainfall. Have you considered using subsurface irrigation? It would def take some time to setup but it may help you conserve the water you have. Perhaps planting some drought tolerant exotics around your property can also help minimize dessication and restore hydrological balance to the soil. How deep is you well? Is there a non potable water table above that?
 
R Scott
Posts: 3304
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We were in the same boat up unto a few weeks ago and then we got a full year's rain in about two weeks. Hugels and swales do make a HUGE difference. But they are finite stores and can only do so much. I feel for you.
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
31
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Can I see some pictures please? Year by year if possible, thanks.
 
Tim Malacarne
Posts: 226
Location: South central Illinois, USA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Sorry to hear, but it sounds as if you are coping well. It was very dry for us last year, one can only imagine what it's like over a longer period.

Best, TM
 
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela
Posts: 143
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So sorry to hear about the drought, Brenda. We've been under a drought but more fortunate in Central Michigan. We are getting rain about every 10-15 days but not a lot. My hugels are, also, holding my annual veggie crops over very well. But a couple of my trees and young shrubs are suffering. I've been letting blanching-water from my pole beans cool to room temperature and dumping the water around one or two trees each day.

I know carrying water is a chore but if it is an option, is it possible for you to divert your grey water in a way that will let you collect and water a little bit here and there? Maybe the washing machine or just the rinse cycle of the washing machine? You might get a little soap but it seems the small diluted amount could be tolerated by healthy soil/plants??

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
yes the greywater thing is a thought, but the problem isn't really CLOSE to the house, as we can water there if need be (we have a very deep well and generally a super high water table with a lot of clay)..but no rain is no rain.

we have a pond that is ridiculously low, but there is still water in the deep end, the shallow end is bone dry.

I DO haul water to the baby trees to keep them from drying..but it is the forest that I'm concerned about, as it is generally swampy with some standing water all year around, and now it is dry dry dry..

here the fire danger is also "extreme"..which is rare for us.

there is a groundwater water table that is accessible, and we have THOUGHT about putting in a flowing well into the pond, which we will some time if we can afford the well drilling..right now we can't afford that..and we also have to be able to trench thru to a creek about 1,000 feet beyond the woods to handle any overflow from a flowing well before we do it so we don't flood the neighbors..so it will be a big expensive job..no $ now to try it.

also there is some concern if these drought conditions continue from year to year that we might not be able to draw off of the water table without damaging wells and such..no concern about our deep well now though.

this is the 3rd year of drought here and it has gotten quite bad to where all the forests in the area are suffering.

as far as planting trees, we have nearly covered all of our acerage with trees at this point, and plant about a dozen or more fruit trees every year as well as putting in acorns and seeds from shade trees on a regular basis..to replace trees that are dying (we are losing trees from the emerald ash borer, as well as some disease or bugs are killing off oak, elm, maple, white pine, in the surrounding few hundred miles from us)..

We live in a high clay area with generally very high water table..and a deeply forested area near our homes, but there are people clear cutting woods that are about 2 miles from our house..but they are downstream from us not up stream..

there was also a lot of cornfields put in last year..east and west of us, but they were hayfields before being turned into corn fields for the last 50 years.

as I have said before, we have lost a lot of ash trees on our property to the emerald ash borer, one very large one in our front yard 3 years ago, so that does coincide with the time that we started having the bad droughts..but we have replaced that tree with aspens that grew up on their own immediately, and there are shrubs and trees all over the area where it came down..

we hare huge tree people here.
 
David Williams
Posts: 133
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How many inches/mm of rain have you gotten these last 2 years annually? any idea ? whats your usual rainfall amount annually ?
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 393
Location: Georgia
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
After two or three years of drought we have had nothing but rain this year in
Georgia. If we could even it out and share we would be set.
 
Sean Banks
Posts: 153
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I read that at some point the midwest will become desert........cant remember the source however
 
Scott May
Posts: 11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sean,

I think the Midwest could become a desert if large scale farming continues it's current path. We set an example in all that we do. The people will wake up. The land can be healed.

Peace
 
Scott May
Posts: 11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brenda,
We went through a horrible drought last year. Something to consider...how can you use the drought to your advantage? Examples would be roof repair and invasive removal. The DNR in my state is great. But, somebody, somewhere, missed a great opportunity to knock out the asian carp problem last year. Perhaps now is a good time to install some thing(s) to catch and harvest a large amount of water when the rains return? Observe, adapt. Follow your intuition.

Peace.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Scott, so right.. This is what we really have been doing for several years now as there has been increasing heat and drought in our area and we are wondering if it is a trend.

about 12 years ago we dug a pond, for several years since we have been deepening and enlarging the pond to catch and save water on the property.

I also work at adding mulch to the gardens when I'm able (nothing to haul it with at the time so I have to do as much as I can by hand and I'm 62..and partially disabled since birth..so it is a chore. This week I picked up 4 big bags of stump grinding "chips?" at my sister's yard and put those on the garden..we have been grinding a lot of our own chips too and also adding chop and drop mulches and weeds ..and my baby trees are all mulched which I'm sure have saved them this year.

I plan to have my son put the bagger on our mulching mower this fall and I'm going to go around to some of the "organic" neighbors and gather up their leaves as well as ours, and grass clippings if we ever have lawn growing again..although our lawn is mostly clover and natural plants..it will make a good mulch.

I also found out the nearby town composts all of its garden wastes, but I'm a bit afraid of it possibly having herbicides and pesticides in it.

I use soaker hoses on the "food plants" on the property when i have to water, but the water is so cold coming out of our well and the pond is too low to draw water out of..also would like to have someone reroute our greywater but it is not a job I'm able to accomplish on my own (husband is mentally disabled from head injury)
 
David Williams
Posts: 133
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brenda,
First off , I'd like to commend you on being such a trooper with your plans , you have a lot of things that are counter productive to your success with this , your age , disabilities and drought, these factors would dishearten a lot of people from continuing onward ... I'f i had a medal you could have it
Secondly , only thing i could suggest is drilling a hole near the bigger trees into the ground and placing a section of pipe to feed water into kinda like the "buried earthen pot" tho with established trees this become hard , so a 3-4 foot section of PVC with an open bottom would allow the water to "warm up" a little in the soil, and help prevent evaporation , Hand earth augers have a 4 inch drill usually , and a landscaper / tree planter group might be able to spend an hour or so putting them in for you ..... could even fill them with wood chips to absorb moister and slow it's release down may reduce watering...
I live in a 24 inch rainfall area , and know you need to incorporate every little trick your able too, but alas , man cant change nature single handedly, and we are at mother natures mercy at times, working with nature is accepting loss , and some years have to be written off , if you make enough change in the good years , helps you weather out the bad ones... but sounds like you've done all you can do...
Peace and Love Dave oxoxoxox

During the last drought we had a local farmer was asked on national radio "how long has it been since it rained last?" the farmer replied " I'm not sure but i have 6 year old frogs who cant swim" Typical of an Aussie ... when things are not so good , it's the best time to laugh...!!! keep your chin up
 
Scott May
Posts: 11
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brenda,

How about using a trash can (or something similar) and drilling a 1/4 inch hole in the bottom of it? The sun should warm the well water before it drains from the can. You can experiment to determine the correct set-up. A dark can with a dark lid should help absorb the solar radiation.

When I fill the kiddie pool for my kids, they always wanted to jump right in. (Shivering and purple lips did not deter them).

The best solution was to fill the pool a couple hours before swim time without telling the kids. That doesn't help you.
However, I found a nice trick was to turn the water on at the spigot but have the spray nozzle off. I would zig-zag 200 feet of black garden hose on my black driveway. In full sun, the water temperature inside the hose rose quickly. within about 30 minutes the water was hot enough to burn a person. I would then start filling the kiddie pool. I keep filling the pool until the hose water gets down to its lowest temperature. This actually takes a little while because the new water is heated by the hot hose and driveway.

This will work. Just make sure the trash can is in the correct spot before you fill it up. Actually, I think you should use approximately a 30 gallon can and only put 10 gallons in it at a time. Or 5 gallon buckets might work.

A couple of years ago, I figured out my city water was killing my garden. To solve this problem, I filled 5 gallon buckets and let them sit out for at least a day. This allowed the chlorine to evaporate. Every time I watered, I would refill the buckets so they would be ready for the next time. On hot days I would have to wait until after sundown so the water was not too hot for the plants.

Hope this helps.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i'm not capable of carrying a 5 gallon bucket to water the trees, but I have a lot of "ice cream pails" that are 5 quart and I have them out in the garden area (several hundred feet from our house) and I do fill them up ..about 15 of them...that I carry to water the baby trees that don't have soaker hoses near them..so they do warm up the water to some degree..but the water that comes out of the soaker hoses is very cold..


as for the holes by the trees..it's funny you should say that.

we have a hardpan down about 18" and I use a post hole digger and dig a hole thru the hardpen when I plant a baby tree, and in the spring when I plant trees those holes fill right up with water, cause our spring water table is that high..

I always go and get some soil from the woods ..forest duff.. and I put that in the hole to bring in the microherds from the woods..and fungi bits..and then I refill with the top soil and some sticks that go up and down in the hole, or even if the hole is larger some rotting branches..which can wick water from the bottom of the hole up.
2 of those trees have lost their leaves but still show signs of life near the earth, but all the rest still have green leaves on them even in the drought..but to put in pipe or something like that doesn't really make sense to my situation..

i guess this is a little like a vertical hugel thingy, by putting the pieces of branches in the holes..and maybe that has helped keep some of these trees alive?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
unfortunately also the trees that I mentioned that are dying off are not baby trees, these are 100 year old plus trees that are 75 to 150 feet tall !! Oaks, Ash, Maples, Box Edlers, cottonwoods, aspens, elms, white pines..etc..

there is not enough water in the soil for them to remain alive and these are acres and acres and miles and miles of trees, not something you can haul a bucket of water too, and it wouldn't do much good
 
Scott May
Posts: 11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brenda,

My idea was to move the container by the tree while it was still empty. Then fill it with the cold well water using a hose. Not sure how small the hole in the bottom would need to be. Just small enough to allow enough time for the sun to warm the well water to an acceptable temperature. I don't realize the area you are dealing with was so large.

I hope you get relief soon.

Peace,
 
David Goodman
gardener
Posts: 496
Location: Zone 9a/8b
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just saw this thread... wow, Brenda - I had no idea it was that bad up there.

A few years ago I lived in TN. Remember the "Nashville Flood?" It was a 500-year event... and the city-owned drainage ditch in my backyard turned into a river that tore away six years of organic soil building and hard work. My amazing little permaculture gardens... gone.

Back then I felt like it was the end of the world. I was so angry at losing what I'd worked for. The Monday after the flood, I listed my house for sale. Three months later we moved to Florida and started all over again in a completely new climate (WITHOUT FLOODS!).

We're thriving now and have built up again... but man, I still get sick thinking about how much I lost. We had built rich, earthworm-filled soil that was 6" deep across a big patch of yard... and in a day, it was stripped down to subsoil clay, rutted and worthless.

All that to say - I feel your pain. Keep pressing on. I don't have any answers, but I appreciate you and am hoping for the best.
 
Marianne Cicala
gardener
Pie
Posts: 645
Location: south central VA 7B
72
bee books forest garden fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Brenda-
Please don't despair if your trees are dropping fruit, leaves etc. They will protect their core aka their roots. You may consider going ahead and pulling any fruit on your smaller trees and plucking the leaves that are already turning brown. Just like our bodies, we will happily sacrifice fingers, toes (fruit and leaves) to keep our core as healthy as possible during times of stress. It certainly sounds like a nightmare and my heart goes out to you - I watched something very similiar a few years ago with weeks of 90 - 100 degree temps and not even a hint of rain or cloud cover.
I also did some major pruning late the following winter to help some of my young trees recoup, bloom and leaf out easier when spring came. You may also consider soaking some old burlap bags and putting them around the base of your babies - they are so much easier to tote than buckets of water.
best of luck to you!!!
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David, we lost everything in a house fire 8/28/02..and had to start over too, but we stayed on the same land.

Some really great news..in the last 13.5 hours we have gotten 4.1 " of rain and it is still raining and there is more coming across the lake..

I'm not complaining..but I still doubt if this is going to be enough to break our drought. The winter forcast is for DRY and COLD..but the autumn forcast holds hope with some rain and snow..
I definately am going to make some new plans for 2014, changes to how I see my property. Rather than seeing it with a HIGh water table I will see it as possible drought
 
Matu Collins
Pie
Posts: 1967
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey, so glad you're getting some rain!
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
well the rain amounted to around 4" in total yesterday, I walked around and checked things out, the pond was dry over half of the surface..now it is only dry over 1/4 of the surface, there is standing water in 1/4 of the pond that was dry, so that is good..and there is rain forcasted for this weekend again.

I had buckets setting out to gather water and they are all about 4" full from the rain, a few blew over in the wind though..so I'll have warm water to pour onto the trees between rains..thrilled.

Normally with 4" of rain in 13.5 hours you would expect flooding, or at least a lot of standing water..nope..it all soaked in or ran off into the pond..there is no standing water anywhere..

It came over a long period, so we did get rain, soak, rain, soak, rain, soak type pattern all day..but some of it came so fast and hard I'm sure it was mostly run off..but thankfull run off here goes to our pond...and swamp areas.

I'm not sure if it was too late for our large trees or not..it will be a wait and see game to see if they survive or die from the droughts..and also a wait and see to see if this was enough
 
Jay Vinekeeper
Posts: 66
Location: Northwest Lower MI
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Brenda,

Congratulations on that wonderful rain yesterday. I watched it all day on radar and thought of you.

Too bad for us, it slipped just to the south, but we were probably in better soil-moisture condition going into it than you.

Isn't it wonderful how heavy rains soak in here?

I think the trees are just fine. Soils may be "excessively well drained" but the same condition that allows for surface drought also allow trees like your maples to send a really deep taproot and utilize resources down as far as 15 meters or so. Imagine where all that soak went yesterday. Basically down to the deeper clay levels which will now filter all that water for recharge to the aquifers beneath. These light, deep soils (and regular, heavy snowfall) are primary reasons why we have the very finest maple forests in all the world.

So know that someone here celebrates your rainfall with you. Happy ponds ... and be well.

jv
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay, what a beautiful way to look at it. We have fortunately had a light rain a couple days last week and Sat and again today..they add up. If you put a bucket out, it doesn't cover the bottom of the bucket even 1/64" deep, but, as I said, it adds up.

The grass is regrowing. Wildflowers like the physostegia and goldenrod in the low lying areas are now in bloom and although small and very early, the apples are ready..corn was saved in some areas, some are dead..

we are still about 2' below normal rainfall for this time of year..but I'm thankful for what we did get
 
Nicholas Mason
Posts: 91
Location: Colton Or
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I heard about these things called olla irrigation. It is basically a clay pot that you fill with water, and it slowly lets water out. I don't know if it would be a good solution for you, but the link that I put on here will take you to the podcast home page, where there is a link to the person he interviews page, or you can listen to his podcast.
http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/haynes-on-olla-irrigation,
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic