Tracy Wandling wrote:To me this says that plants can grow in an unirrigated field. If the soil was conditioned to absorb and hold more water, and perhaps if there were swales and/or other water catchments like buried wood in trenches, and lots of mulch, then perhaps the field could be grown in without irrigation. I'm not sure if you wrote that in a hopeful tone, or an unhopeful one. But I find it hopeful.
Gilbert Fritz wrote:How are the currants producing?
Tyler Ludens wrote:Thank you, elle, that is all very helpful!
I have a large open space which used to be my vegetable and fruit garden before our horrible drought, when everything but some asparagus died. I replanted some asparagus on buried wood beds, but it died without irrigation. Right now I have chickens in a paddock in the space but I'm trying to decide which to do with it in the future. I don't want to irrigate, so I'm trying to figure out what would be the best strategy to grow food in the space. The area is exposed to full sun most of the day and is exposed to drying winds. So learning about what is working under even more challenging conditions is helpful. The only advantage I can see in your location versus mine is you have lower evaporation due to latitude, but may have higher evaporation due to wind. You also have a lower average rainfall if I recall. So if something works for you there, it should work here. Also should work for Gilbert, with his high dry climate.
I wonder if kraters with buried wood in the bottom might be a thing to try...
charlotte anthony wrote:elle, do you have a web site. if not would love to see you post a thread about your project. many thanks.
Gilbert Fritz wrote:Elle,
Thanks so much. That sounds very promising. Wyoming is HARSH! Even though it is further north then Denver CO, I'm assuming the wind more then evens out the difference? Denver has lots of trees and buildings to block the wind.
How densely are your swales and kraters planted?
Here in Denver, I can actually get tons of wood. People have planted lots of trees, and usually in the wrong places. They also chose the wrong trees from a yard standpoint; Siberian elms, Russian olives, Norway Maples, aspens, poplars, and cottonwoods. So now people are cutting down lots of junk trees and need to get rid of wood.
The owners of the field I use just cut down 30 dead or dying cotton wood and elm trees. I have log rounds and wood chip mulch to last forever.
I'm hesitant about the termite issue, even though I've been told it is not a problem.
Tyler Ludens wrote:Is cold air pooling in the kraters a problem?
Gilbert Fritz wrote:How are the currants producing? Somebody else mentioned gooseberries as dryland tolerant. Seems like the Ribes genus might be a good start for fruit.
Gilbert Fritz wrote:Elle; that is a great point about the benefits of cold air pooling. I'm working on something similar, stacking up walls of log rounds to the South, East, and West of my trees to keep the ground cooler into the spring. Late frosts kill off all the blossoms here quite often.
Your experiments sound wonderful, thanks for sharing. I've never heard of a Russian almond, what are they like?
my pictures are probely sub par but I had great luck with berms here. I through cover crops on lightly mulched berms every rain storm in may and june. Then some time in june I spread vedgie seeds randomly. When vedgies came up I mulched a little with rotted logs. I could have done much better if I had the time but I have a huge amount of diakon as a cover with lots of other things yielding well all things considered. If you got any questions or want a pic of something specific just ask.
Gilbert Fritz wrote:Tyler,
Wheaton labs is probably more like Denver. Currently, the evapotranspiration rate here in Littleton (Denver metro) is between a 5th and a 4th of an inch a day, and we have not had a significant rain in several weeks. So far we have got around 10 inches this year, and it is hot, sunny and windy with a low humidity.
I have a hard time figuring out how much they are growing at the labs, and how. Seems like it is mostly infrastructure work for now. If an ant could chime in that would be great.
Gilbert Fritz wrote:Is there anyone who is growing fruit or vegetables without irrigation in an area with less the 20 inches of rain a year? The crops I am interested in are "standard" ones not prickly pear and mesquite. Some folks think that Permaculture can replace irrigation, and I think it might be able to, but I'd like details of an actual setup if there is one, so that I don't have to keep reinventing the wheel.
Also, if you are doing it, what do yields per square foot/ acre look like?
theres brush in there one to two foot thick the berms are pretty high I feel like thats the real key in my good luck. The sub soil is pretty deep. I just threw things around so I could observer where things do best. It seams with a little shade things dont need irrigation if they have berms to play in. But I still got diakon and mustard even in sun baked areas.my hope is that with ground cover and mulch in key areas they can be completely covered without much work.
Gilbert Fritz wrote:Sean, thanks for the pics! So you just threw things around? Are there logs buried in there?
Nancy, I will look into that system. Is the booklet you mention available online?
Gilbert Fritz wrote:Joshua, where does you water come from? How many gallons did you use on how many square feet this year?
I would say that asumption is correct from what im seeing I do have some things below ground level that did well. Also anything shelted from the wind seams to have more biodiversity. All I would add to that logic is throwing down all sorts of seeds DURING any storm to get a cover established. Im excited to see what you come up with. Hopefully it gives me more inspiration. Thanks for the thread!
Gilbert Fritz wrote:So, Sean's raised berms; this keeps coming up. It would seem that one should have sunken beds. I'm thinking that if the mound is large enough, and the winds blocked off, the benefits would come from having deeply loosened soil so that each plant can tap a lot more area. Steve Solomon, in a Pacific Northwest climate where they have plenty of rain in the winter and none in summer, grows stuff without irrigation. But even there, he says it can't be done on clay; one needs a deep sand or loam soil, at least 4 feet deep.
its mostly sand with some clay mixed in I beleve. Its freaky deep sub soil. Im not sure what the technical term is and I have never done that jar test to see what the exsact amounts of everything are.
Tracy Wandling wrote:Sean; What kind of soil are you working with?
I have access to fields that I can use free so long as I give some produce to the owners. I work with a group of others growing vegetables and fruit trees. We have irrigation, but I'd like to cut way back.
Eventually, I will be buying a plot outside of town, which may not have irrigation access. (Water rights here in Colorado are hard to get.)
This is a cold, high desert, with large temperature swings between day and night, cold and changeable winters, and a short season.