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central Texas dust bowl

 
Cal Burns
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Another drought this year, temps are steadily in the 100s. Having a hard time with growing a garden in my raised beds, dug them down before the start of the season and put in firewood to make a hugel bed which should help in future years. Reading up on permaculture. Plan on digging a swale and trenches to capture water when it does happen to rain, as I have a slight grade. Rain barrel getting hooked up. Putting in a drip irrigation. Have leaves piled up around the plants and stones where moisture can collect underneath. Only thing growing it seems is my tomatoes. Is like a dust bowl. Will be getting a bunch of used coffee grounds to spread out to try and enrich beds some and add to compost. Any suggestions?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think raised beds might be inappropriate in our climate, except in good rain years.  I'm experimenting with sunken "hugelkultur" in my vegetable garden and so far I am pleased.  Though I'm still having to irrigate, in the past my garden would just dry up when it got as hot as it is now.  This is one of the best gardening years I've had, in spite of it probably being the driest.

 
Jordan Lowery
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i agree, when its hot and dry you need to go down instead of up. specially if you know you wont get flooded with rain in the winter.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Problem is, our region is also prone to extreme flooding!  It could flood later this year if we're blessed with tropical storms or hurricanes.  So ideally one should have raised areas, flat areas, and sunken areas. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm going to try some of these home-made ollas:  http://threeforks.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/diy-terra-cotta-watering-system/
 
Cal Burns
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Those ollas look interesting. Using raised beds as our soil is so poor.
 
Cal Burns
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hubert cumberdale wrote:
i agree, when its hot and dry you need to go down instead of up. specially if you know you wont get flooded with rain in the winter.

Have any photos of your sunken beds? Do you plant the plant a few inches lower in the ground and put mulch around it?
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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I've got raised beds in a hot climate.  I throw some shade cloth over them in the summer.  They do just fine.  We haven't had rain in 248 days and counting...
 
Tyler Ludens
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How often do you water the beds, velacreations?

 
Abe Connally
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They are wicking beds, and I water them every week or 10 days.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks. 

 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Something that might work in a hot dry climate also prone to flooding is to build sunken beds that are connected by small gates to a swale/collecting area below them -- if the beds start to flood, open the gates and let the water out into the swale. 

Kathleen
 
Tyler Ludens
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That's a very interesting idea, Kathleen. 
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
That's a very interesting idea, Kathleen.   


My 'home area' is a tide-water area of the Oregon Coast, up one of the coastal valleys.  In order to farm the flat valley bottom land (most of the land there is either flat alluvial land or very steep hillsides), the farmers diked all around their fields to keep the flood and tide waters out.  Each property has at least one drainage ditch with a gate through the dike to drain excess water back into the river.  That's where I got the idea.

Kathleen
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm trying to figure out how I might implement your idea on my place....a few years ago we had terrific flooding that tore through our yard between our workshop and house, knocking down fences and trees.  I want to try to slow that water with berms and basins with maybe some "hugel pits" but I wondered what to do with the excess water....
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I'm trying to figure out how I might implement your idea on my place....a few years ago we had terrific flooding that tore through our yard between our workshop and house, knocking down fences and trees.  I want to try to slow that water with berms and basins with maybe some "hugel pits" but I wondered what to do with the excess water....


Didn't that guy in Africa who 'greened' his desert property have swales leading to dry wells to refill the local aquifer?  You could do that -- dig deep holes, filling them with large rock (you just want to minimize evaporation, and not have open holes for anyone to fall into), and have your swales direct the water to these, where it could gradually soak into the soil and replenish your ground water.

Kathleen
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes, great idea, now I have to figure how to move it downhill without getting in the way of trees, driveway, etc...to an area where it can soak in....

Thanks for these ideas! 
 
                      
Posts: 76
Location: Austin,TX
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Yeah, it's been a bit on the dry side around here (Austin) and combo that with the crazy 100+ deg 'spring' is scary. Wonder if this isn't the future weather patterns around here. Hope not.

I've set things up to gather road runoff that flows into the swale system but it requires rain to work...
Finally put in drip tape irrigation system for my swales and it's starting to make a huge difference.
Very low water usage .21 gal per hour per 100 feet. So 1000' would use 2.1 gal per hour...not bad.
It's buried and puts the water right where it needs to be. So nice to dig past the mulch and find things nice and moist.

Anyone that wants to we are doing a Sunday work day/potluck (come for either or both) every other week...6-26-11 is on for the potluck.
Just PM me...
Ape99

 
Jonathan Byron
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Nopals and chaya, and hoping you get some rain soon.
 
                        
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Location: sub-tropics downunder
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just wonder why rain barrels instead of say a 22.5 kilolitre raintank, capture maximum water to last you maximum time, i think the ratio is 1mm of rain on 100 square meters of roof delivers 100 litres of water.

with water think big, also with the swalling insead of a trench swale how would rip swales go that is use a single tine ripper on a tractor to depth of about 20"s what ever the tine reaches.

len
 
laura sharpe
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pardon me for going off thread just a moment, i was reminded of a song which i couldnt go a moment longer without hearing...
stevie ray vaughn's Texas Flood

 
Cal Burns
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Ah the master! Listening to him now.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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You can mulch with stones too.
And yes rain water barrels are suitable for the chicken pen but for your house you need something decent. The biggest tank you can squeeze in, it is not so much more expensive to buy a bigger tank. 10.000 litre is the absolute minimum.
 
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