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Hail resilient food system design

 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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We've had some severe hail storms lately, and with climate disruption, we're likely to have them more frequently, and more severe.

Much of my garden was damaged in the recent storm, but I noticed the plants under the canopy of trees survived with significantly less damage. So one way to resist hail, especially in a region like this with intense sun, is to place gardens under trees, and to plant trees throughout gardens.

Any other ideas?

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9416
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I've noticed that the plants with lacy or narrow leaves, such as carrots and onions, sustained much less damage than those with broad leaves such as squash. So a hail resilient garden might want to include a heavy component of lacy and narrow leaved food plants.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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We don't really get hail here, and when we do it's itty bitty. Biggest I've ever seen was maybe the size of my pinky tip, happened in the winter, and I could crumble it relatively easily. And, it only happened once in my life. We get hail maybe twice a year, in the winter. So, I really have no experience with gardening with the stuff.

But, I do recall reading in The Farmer's Handbooka lot of recommendations for how to deal with hail (as these books were written for the Himalayan area, and so hail and monsoons were something very regular and to be prepared for). When setting up a nursery for starting plants, they would put a thatch roof over it, to protect it. They also utilized tree cover (like you were mentioning) and thatch over their baby trees, too, to protect from hail. Here's a direct link to the specific chapter in The Farmer's Handbook #3: http://www.permaculturenews.org/resources_files/farmers_handbook/volume_3/6_home_nursery.pdf

There might very well be more ideas in the rest of the books, but this was the one that stuck out most to me (mostly because I couldn't really fathom having to shelter from rain/hail, as powerful precipitation just isn't something we get here!).

Since the books are in PDF format (and FREE!), you could look at them here: http://www.permaculturenews.org/resources_files/farmers_handbook/ or download them here: http://www.green-shopping.co.uk/ebooks/free-ebooks.html. Once you have them open, you can do a ctrl+f and search each book for "hail" and see if any other suggestions come up!

Oh! Just search through book 2 of the Farmer's Handbook, and they recommend thatching over the plants that have been selected for seed saving, so as to offter them extra protection. (Page nine of chapter 8 of seed saving: http://www.permaculturenews.org/resources_files/farmers_handbook/volume_2/8_seed_saving.pdf)

They also suggest using green manures (cover crops) to protect the soil from heavy rains, and I would think it would help with hail, too (Book four, chapter 2 Green Manures: http://www.permaculturenews.org/resources_files/farmers_handbook/volume_4/2_green_manures.pdf).

I hope that helps!
 
Davis Bonk
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I have been trying to establish plots at other peoples farms to spread out the production in case of bad weather events. Out here the thunderstorms can wash seedlings out sometimes and the hail usually falls in bands and isn't throughout the storm. It's also nice to have a change of scenery and be around different people.

Another thing is one could get a support network of local growers that agree to help secure produce in the event of a disaster so no one loses customers or goes hungry.

+Low tunnels
 
Deb Rebel
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We have a few times of year where we get hail. Lots of it. This spring we have gotten our share already (snowdrifts of it). Keeping detailed records of what goes on every day for several years you will find general cycles and know when to pay attention and perhaps offer additional protection to your plants. I have lots of rummage sale and thrift store sheets and blankets (a bit of dubious stain doesn't bother in this case) to cover things with. We will have another band of a few weeks of general hail issues later in the season, and I just plan I will have to help my stuff along. Yes I am a high tech person and have the slab surgically attached, but by the same, I have three different weather services linked and allow them to beeple me alerts. I signed as a National Weather Service volunteer 'storm spotter' which meant some training, a hail-o-meter ruler and a number I can call to report things...as well as some good alerts ahead of time when they think we will have significant weather. In return I also allow them to be able to ping my phone for GPS in case they want to call me for an on the ground report. They also send out advance warnings to the spotters when they think there will be significant weather in the area to alert them to pay attention and call in. So I usually get 2-3 days warning before the ugly forms and hits us.

Trees can help protect stuff if they're leafed out already. Else pay attention to your property right after a hailstorm and look for any sheltered areas and take advantage of it. I have a huge collection of old rummage sale and thrift store blankets and sheets, for covering things. I also have taken detailed records of every day since I moved here, and now have an idea on when our hail season usually happens (we just finished one, and will have another in late July, a few weeks for each) and can plan accordingly. I do a combination of passive permie style food production (my lovely 4' Lambsquarter weed has presented lots of salad greens and is about to be removed as the other stuff has come in) and more intensive raised bed and containerized self watering gardening. I built a large screen house of 2x4's, calf panels and 30% shade cloth with professional grade landscape fabric floor. This helps protect my stuff from the worst of my weather including hail, and improves my yield a great deal. Not for everyone but it is one way to get the hail protection. (I bought the large mesh tarps at Harbor Freight on sale and sewed them together with braided nylon catfish fish line and a huge darning needle). Some coldframes I can plop calf panel pieces onto then put old burlap sacking to make a temporary covering of 30-60% (depends on the weave of the burlap). I usually raise them with bricks for ventilation...
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Location: Denver, CO
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Hoop structures are nice. Tree cover helps in a hail year, hinders in a non hail year. Probably best to have tree plots and non tree plots. And geographic dispersal. I'm building an arbor with a roll out awning against a south brick wall to protect grapes, figs, and tomatoes from hail and radiant cooling.
 
Deb Rebel
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:Hoop structures are nice. Tree cover helps in a hail year, hinders in a non hail year. Probably best to have tree plots and non tree plots. And geographic dispersal. I'm building an arbor with a roll out awning against a south brick wall to protect grapes, figs, and tomatoes from hail and radiant cooling.


I know Denver's climate and weather, hail is very real for you. You might need misters to get the tomatoes happy. A good south exposure brick wall can gain you 1/2 to 1 grow zone. Over 4000 ft you will have more UV and that can also be harsher on your garden also.

Here I'm so far over in time zone we should be one over, in daylight saving time local mean noon is almost 2 pm. So in general we need 2-6 pm shade. The battle is also for average 25mph SSW wind and single digit humidity or close. (95f with 25mph wind, 9% humidity, makes the most efficient solar laundry dryer ever out of a good length of clothesline). A stand of fully mature trees will have their own microclime, with a local area of raised humidity, more oxygen, and the shade. It's wonderful to be under the canopy of same. Most gardens will do well under a tree for afternoon sun protection, as long as it's not oak (tannins), or black walnut (produces toxins to discourage other plants growing). If using a tree as part of the garden plan, I place things so they will go into shade about at local high noon or just after, and continue to at least four hours later. Our general hail direction is the SSW, in the summer our sun swings far enough north for about six months to allow us sun in a north window. So angle to protect from hail is different than that needed for sun protection. Take that into consideration if you use trees as part of your gardening plan.
 
Daniel Morse
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Location: SW Michigan
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As the weather becomes worse and unreliable we will have to be smarter. Tubers and many crops can survive hail. Of course it depends on the hail. You can grow cabbages and many low laying crops under the trees. However, grains are going to be the bigger victim here.

Frankly, the day if coming that we will have to shelter man, many of our crops in structures and preventive devises. I predicted this many years ago. We ride on a dynamic planet. As the grains go. The older and tougher varieties I feel should do better. Still, massive winds and hail will have its way.

You need to store years worth of such crops. To weather the weather.

I grow my cabbage and some other stuff under my big shade trees. They are trimmed up, let the light in and provide a good micro climate. Plus it is nice to garden under them. They are crops like cabbage, some other tubers and stuff. The grains need the full light. As do many veg as you already know.
 
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