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Dry Farming in California  RSS feed

 
William Jack
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http://consumerist.com/2013/08/28/dry-farming-challenges-everything-your-science-teacher-told-you-but-it-actually-works/

Now, I know you want to grow wine grapes in poor soil so that the grapes come out sweeter to compensate, but I hadn't heard of dry farming before.

Is this really a thing?
 
Ernest Friedman-Hill
DĂșnedain of Arnor
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Apparently; here's another story, this one on NPR:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/08/23/214884366
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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When I lived at Heartwood Institute up in N. California almost 20 years ago they were dry farming corn down at the bottom of the hill. I suspect it was more of an ethic of being able to grow crops without irrigation, rather than aiming for sweetness. I was not at all involved with the effort, so can't give any details. Anyway, it was a thing back then.
 
Dennis Lanigan
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Location: Philomath, OR
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Gardening Without Irrigation by Steve Solomon. This is for the Cascadia bioregion however, not California specifically.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
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Location: northern northern california
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yeah dry farming is definitely a common thing here, however you must realize that a lot of northern california is rainforest.

it rains for six months out of the year, almost every day.
in those parts theres people who are into dry farming, but a major part of it is using mulch and other methods to hold the abundant rainfall during the wet seasons, to be utilized by the plants during the dry season. and they also like textures and hills....

i dont do dry farming, i sometimes water, but only during the most dry times. half the year theres no need to use any water...at least in the rainy parts of northern cal.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Location: Western Washington
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I can't speak to California, but I have had fairly extensive experience dry farming in Washington State (the wet side of it though to be sure).

On a total of about 30 acres we where farming 3/4 of the land without irrigation. This included all of our potatoes, onions, and head lettuce. The most important thing in (dry) farming (in my opinion) is to be able to read your land and select crops appropriately . The land we were dry farming was mostly bottom land in the center of valleys. One was an extent of rocky silt which quite obviously was a stream bed since the end of the last ice age.

The other was a large area of peat which sat on top of a large aquifer. When we ran the tractor atop it you could feel the whole field shake. Both of these sites had natural subsoil irrigation. I would be happy to comment more and I could probably answer further questions if you have any for me.
 
James Colbert
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I know that people dry farm in warmer areas of Cali like Yolo county and Sacramento county. These are true Mediterranean climates. They have been dry farming in the Mediterranean region for 1000s of years. 90% of our rain comes in 3 or at most 4 months out of the year.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
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Location: northern northern california
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cascadia is aptly named *land of falling waters*

it makes sense to do dry farming, or at least *water wise* gardening here, but this probably wouldnt work as well in a different region.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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I live in the Sierra Nevada foothills, we get rain from October to may ( sometimes) and the rest of the year not a drop. I have access to water but don't use it for some crops. Garlics, onions, wheat, barley, dry corn, sunflower, chard, potato, beets, carrot, and a few more are dry farmed and only grown on the last winters rain. from there I irrigate by flooding swale and terrace systems once in mid July to keep tomatoes and peppers going along with a few other things. They could survive without but yield goes way down. From there they go without water until about now ( early september)where I water one more time to get fall/winter seedlings going( garlics, lettuce, kale, cabbage, onion, chard, chicory, etc...) from there rain usually comes in October and takes everything on until next summer.

A huge number of tree/shrub crops can be dryfarmed with underlying annuals.

Around here it's very location dependent. One valley has this hard clay soil and this bedrock, while just on the otherside it's an annual floodplain with deep topsoil. Which just means you grow a different set of plants/crops.

Dry farming is fun but has advantages.
 
Celia Revel
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To my knowledge you can dry farm wheat in the winter in the Central Valley because we get our rain during the winter. I dry farmed fava beans during the winter for the same reason, but that was only because we had El Nino to help. During a drought year, not too sure. All best are off after May.
 
Jason Padvorac
Posts: 103
Location: Northeast of Seattle, zone 8: temperate with rainy winters and dry summers.
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Landon Sunrich wrote:On a total of about 30 acres we where farming 3/4 of the land without irrigation. This included all of our potatoes, onions, and head lettuce.

...

Both of these sites had natural subsoil irrigation. I would be happy to comment more and I could probably answer further questions if you have any for me.


Hi Landon, I hope you are well, and still around! I'd love to hear more about dry farming lettuce and onions, specifically. I'm in Western Washington, and have never heard of anyone dry farming lettuce!

And I'd also love to learn more about your natural subsoil irrigation, and how densely you planted your crops to take advantage of it without stressing it too much. Thanks for anything you can share!
 
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