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rain in a mediterranean climate  RSS feed

 
Lori Ziemba
Posts: 145
Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
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Hi all,
I live in San Francisco, CA., considered a Mediterranean climate.  The weather here is mild, damp, foggy and grey in June-July.  Sunny and warm  August-Sept.-Oct.  Rains in late  Nov.-end of March, with some rain possible Apr.-May in some years. Can't count on that, tho. Extremely harsh winds in the spring-early summer.    So that means NO rain at all from (at best) June thru Oct., and very often, April thru Oct.  That's 5-7 months with NO rain.   We no longer have anything like winter, due to climate change.

My question is, in the real Mediterranean, in Europe, do you folks get any rain at all in the summer?  Or are you the same as here?  I want to start planting an embankment with edible and medicinal plants, and there will be no way to water it except with what I can carry in a can.  The soil is very thin and sandy.  I don't want to spend a lot of effort and money on plants, and then have them dry up on me because, oh, you know what?  We forgot to tell you that California isn't a real Mediterranean climate.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1378
Location: northern California
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I would start with observation.  What's growing around you, in the neighborhood and the surrounding area that has a similar climate?  SF is a very odd climate, not at all similar to many other "Mediterranean" climates.  The summer coolness and fog will enable many plants to thrive for you that are quite impossible for me (in the Central Valley only three hours drive from there). 
      Establishment is always the big challenge.  If your irrigation water is limited you need to be sure to do most of your plantings during the rainy season, preferably at its onset, so that the new plants can grow lots of roots before the next drought comes in. 
     Experiment carefully with mulch.  A lot of permaculture resources treat heavy mulch as a panacea, always good.  At least in my version of the Mediterranean climate it isn't always necessarily so.  I find it creates a habitat for insects and slugs, hinders light rains from penetrating the soil, and is a fire hazard. Usually I keep it out of the annuals altogether.
 
Lori Ziemba
Posts: 145
Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
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Alder Burns wrote:I would start with observation.  What's growing around you, in the neighborhood and the surrounding area that has a similar climate?  SF is a very odd climate, not at all similar to many other "Mediterranean" climates.  The summer coolness and fog will enable many plants to thrive for you that are quite impossible for me (in the Central Valley only three hours drive from there). 
      Establishment is always the big challenge.  If your irrigation water is limited you need to be sure to do most of your plantings during the rainy season, preferably at its onset, so that the new plants can grow lots of roots before the next drought comes in. 
     Experiment carefully with mulch.  A lot of permaculture resources treat heavy mulch as a panacea, always good.  At least in my version of the Mediterranean climate it isn't always necessarily so.  I find it creates a habitat for insects and slugs, hinders light rains from penetrating the soil, and is a fire hazard. Usually I keep it out of the annuals altogether.


I'm right at the beach.  The city stopped watering the embankment along the beach several years ago.  It had been planted with cypresses, myoporums and pittosporums, with an understory of hebes and ice plants and grass.  Since they stopped watering, everything is either dead or dying except the pittosporums, ice plants and cypresses, which are all large and well established.  During the rainy season, it can be quite lush with various weeds and grasses.  Around the hood, I see olives and eucalypts (all large) that get along without water.

So I'm stil wondering, does the real Mediterranean get any rain at all in the summer months?
 
Crt Jakhel
Posts: 171
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6a
9
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Well... Upon seeing your question I first thought hey, let's google monthly rainfall for some related cities.

For example, https://www.yr.no/place/Croatia/Istria/Pula/statistics.html -  Pula, Croatia, northern Adriatic

This looked surprisingly uneventful so I cross-checked by searching our location, Murska Sobota, Slovenia, which is not in a Mediterranean climate (definitely continental) but usually gets a month and a half of drought in the summer, sometimes two and a half:

https://www.yr.no/place/Slovenia/Murska_Sobota/Murska_Sobota/statistics.html

... As you can see, the graph just doesn't show that. In fact if the name were hidden I would never guess this was us.

So, uh, my point... I guess don't rely on googlable stats, you really do need first hand accounts.

 
Elena Carballido Marin
Posts: 2
Location: NE Spain, elevation 300m, zone 9b, 500mm annual rainfall
forest garden greening the desert woodworking
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Lori Ziemba wrote:
Alder Burns wrote:I would start with observation.  What's growing around you, in the neighborhood and the surrounding area that has a similar climate?  SF is a very odd climate, not at all similar to many other "Mediterranean" climates.  The summer coolness and fog will enable many plants to thrive for you that are quite impossible for me (in the Central Valley only three hours drive from there). 
      Establishment is always the big challenge.  If your irrigation water is limited you need to be sure to do most of your plantings during the rainy season, preferably at its onset, so that the new plants can grow lots of roots before the next drought comes in. 
     Experiment carefully with mulch.  A lot of permaculture resources treat heavy mulch as a panacea, always good.  At least in my version of the Mediterranean climate it isn't always necessarily so.  I find it creates a habitat for insects and slugs, hinders light rains from penetrating the soil, and is a fire hazard. Usually I keep it out of the annuals altogether.


I'm right at the beach.  The city stopped watering the embankment along the beach several years ago.  It had been planted with cypresses, myoporums and pittosporums, with an understory of hebes and ice plants and grass.  Since they stopped watering, everything is either dead or dying except the pittosporums, ice plants and cypresses, which are all large and well established.  During the rainy season, it can be quite lush with various weeds and grasses.  Around the hood, I see olives and eucalypts (all large) that get along without water.

So I'm stil wondering, does the real Mediterranean get any rain at all in the summer months?


Hi!

Sorry, my proper introduction is yet to be made, but please allow me to step in this thread in order to give you another answer from someone living in the... let's call it the "original" Mediterranean area since your climate is as real as ours. Short answer: yes, in many European spots we get no rain to very little rain between June and September and the temperatures during those months mean that whatever little rain we may get is evaporated very quickly.

Still, this is quite generic and as Alder Burns rightly points out, SF is quite specific from the little I have been able to observe the few days I have been there (once in late October and another time in July). That summer fog is almost surreal for me. However, it brings a picture to my mind, the fog collection mesh system they use in the Atacama desert and in other really dry places where they get fog.
Check out this video: Harvesting Fresh Water from Fog
If you watch it in YouTube, you will get plenty of other examples suggested.

Apart from taking advantage of that fog, I would follow the lessons from Brad Lancaster ("Plant the rain first"), whatever G. Lawton has done in the Jordan valley or, closer to my location, Jean Pain. Jean Pain did not just come up with the amazing compost heating system, he also managed to produce fresh vegetables without irrigation where everybody else would think "No way!". I would recommend having a look at the book his wife wrote documenting his work and tests. You can check it out here for free: Another Kind of Garden: The Methods of Jean Pain

I hope it helps

Just as a very short background info on my own setting: I got my PDC last year next to Barcelona (Spain), I purchased a piece of land, which is a three hours drive from home (real estate in the Barcelona area is way too expensive for me). That lot is a little bit further South, about 25 km (some 18 miles) from the seaside and the elevation is 330m. This means I do not get to be there for daily on site observation, and I cannot go there as often as I wish. So I have to do with what I see whenever I can go. My dream is to create a food forest. I guess my land is quite the cliché you may think of when picturing Mediterranean hills, some abandoned olive trees, a couple of almond trees and carob trees, some pine trees, thorny bushes and some rocks. Here is a picture:


To be continued in my own project thread some day 



 
Elena Carballido Marin
Posts: 2
Location: NE Spain, elevation 300m, zone 9b, 500mm annual rainfall
forest garden greening the desert woodworking
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Oops, the picture does not seem to work 
Trying as an attachment...
2016-03-01_Media-alt_Pan.02.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2016-03-01_Media-alt_Pan.02.jpg]
 
Stacy Witscher
Posts: 84
Location: SF Bay Area
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I would point out that the fogs are becoming less and less due to climate change. So I wouldn't try to depend on that. I'm in the East Bay, about 1 mile from the bay, so my soil is different, more clay. But I find mulch invaluable, it aids in water retention, slugs and snails are not increased, they simply are a permanent feature. As is evident by the slugs and snails in the protected baylands, some plants are so covered with snails that the branches snap and bend, so much for ducks eating them, ha ha.

The plants that do well with no extra water once established for me are rosemary, old fashioned roses, lots of bulbs, blackberries (although I will supplement with grey water for increased yields), lavender. If I look to nature, wild fennel is a good option, it gets to about 8 feet tall around here, and the dried stalks can be used as stakes. My parents have a pineapple guava that they don't water. Artichokes should work well for you, and that's a big crop down to coast from SF.
 
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