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Using no water at all. Can it be done?

 
pollinator
Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
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I like hugels on contour in this mixed climate in order to trap and hold moisture in the root area. Everything slopes back to the pond which is a lot like a crater garden. We are prepping new ground with a cardboard and straw mulch with a little comost thrown in in order to increase soil micro and macro biology before creating regular style hugelbeds in the flatter old garden area.

On the edges we are growing chicory, wild lettuce and salsify as these plants have deep tap roots for sub-surface tillage and they are tough, drought resistant self sowing plants that have edible, medicinal and decorative uses.
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Subsoil directed roof runoff
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gooseberries and currants in wild profusion
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Bill Bradbury
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Location: Richmond, Utah
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I think pictures tell a story best so here are some more. You'll see a lot of yellow in there, that's not from lack of water, it's barley that has already set it's seed and died off.
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Shady side of the hugel grows anything
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Sunflowers are a great weed
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Concrete driveway has been broken up and reset as gravel holding base
 
pollinator
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[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2H60ritjag


this is a dynamite thread. thank you all so much.

i wanted to post an elaine ingham video link as it relates to using no water at all. she has used these techniques in saudi arabia with no added water.



the single most important video on farming or gardening you will ever watch. this is a paradigm shifter.

slideshow from this presentation: http://orfc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Oxford-Keynote-2014.pptx
video:




you can use no water because with the addition of the unlimited organic matter that the microbes create your land will retain all the water it needs.

i disagree with her about crop rotation. i believe plant diversity is necessary.

i have been using these techniques for more than 10 years with amazing success.

currently my favorite recipe for bringing in the microbes on my broad acre farm is elaine ingham's compost tea. you use the weeds growing on the property. you fill a barrel or bucket with the weeds and kind of push them down but not too much. then you fill with water to the level of the weeds. you stir one time a day for 1 minute in each direction. in 21 days you have compost tea and you can put this on any land, wasteland included. she says clay will floculate in 3 days.

--
At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you. Whatever you can do or dream you can do begin it now. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it. Goethe




 
charlotte anthony
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elle, glad to hear that your water will just be a flat 40 bucks. i do not know how much well water you have but you still probably still need to be frugal with water. i also believe that frugal with water can create a wamphasa state where you get better yields. wamphasa is damp not wet. wet actually removes oxygen and the microbes, earthworms etc have to work hard to rebuild the oxygen after watering.

i wanted to tell you about a guy in north dakota who has 15 inches of rain a year who never waters his 2000 acres. he is gabe brown and this is an inspiring video.


Great talk by someone who is able to increase organic soil health every year with holistic permaculture methods on 2000 acres:

Keys To Building a Healthy Soil - Organic - Permaculture and Polyculture
Gabe Brown Soil Conservationist - Explains how to remediate and build up your soil quality.

i have a system where the only fauna i am using is the microbes -- and there are a lot of deer and rabbits on the property, so i am not recommending mob grazing, just wanted you to know what can be done with very little water. he never started with water and that is what i am doing at terra lingua farm. never starting with water, growing trees from seed to be more drought hardy, etc.
 
charlotte anthony
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many of us in the west assume that no irrigation means no lush greenness, especially in low rainfall areas. 70% of indian farmers grow without any irrigation and most of them in 20 inches of rain a year, with generally 2 monsoons and 4-6 months of no rain.

lets look for a minute at the underlying principles that make this possible. good soil (soil with good organic matter) holds many times the water of soil without organic matter. the main thing that increases organic matter in soil (by weight) is microbes. yes plants work with the microbes and held increase them. One of the folks that inspired gabe brown said he could grow food with as little as 2 inches of rain a year. gabe brown is a farmer who is growing on 2000 acres in north dakota with great results with 15 inches of rain a year and no irrigation. you can see more of how he does it by watching this video, which is extraordinary. gabe speaks in this video of his land now that his organic matter has increased to in some places 11% billions of gallons of water, larger than many reservoirs. he does not need to irrigate because the water is held in his soil. he does not mention microbial innoculation in this video and this is what i am using on my farm in eastern oregon with 8 - 15 inches of rain a year, to get his results in the first year.




Great talk by someone who is able to increase organic soil health every year with holistic permaculture methods on 2000 acres: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_GEpq59urY
Keys To Building a Healthy Soil - Organic - Permaculture and Polyculture
Gabe Brown Soil Conservationist - Explains how to remediate and build up your soil quality. .
 
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leila hamaya wrote:maybe dig a huge bowl shape somewhere on your land. easier said than done!



How about instead of digging a bowl you instead build a berm?
 
pollinator
Posts: 4665
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Elle, posted some pictures of her water in THIS thread.
 
steward
Posts: 32847
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
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I took a picture last fall.   Looking at the pic, I took it on September 26, 2018.

This is a picture of a sad little apple tree that was run over by somebody - it was broken and fred tried to repair it with a little masking tape.   And the rhubarb was also pretty small and pathetic.  And some alfalfa we planted eventually took off.  This is on a berm that is pretty much just rock and sand.  There is no hugelkultur element (woody bits - or any other organic matter) inside.

Zero irrigation.

And when this picture was taken, all other rhubarb had gone fully dormant, and all other apple trees had dropped their leaves.  But the rhubarb looks vibrant and green, and the apple tree looks pretty green, with a leaf count showing strong health.  

Alfalfa is a nitrogen fixer with a deep tap root.  I think this picture is evidence of the alfalfa finding water and sharing it with the apple tree and the rhubarb.  
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rhubarb and apple tree surrounded by alfalfa on a berm
 
pollinator
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Perhaps in arid areas instead of just digging a hole, cover it and create an underground garden where consistent humidity levels can be maintained and direct sunlight filtered to optimum levels.
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James Whitelaw
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A different view from above reimagined
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