Southern Cali Beginner Family

ChiknGordonBlu

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hi and welcome to SS.

in the arid SW i think water supply is the most critical thing for gardening and determines a lot of what you need to accomplish and plan for. so that is the main issue which drives the rest.

look into permaculture for arid climates. it has a lot of very useful techniques and ideas. :)

on new land the most important thing is to observe as much as you can. for arid climate you want to consider wind breaks, shading and how to capture and hold whatever rains you do manage to get while at the same time also not saturating potentially unstable slopes/areas. :)
Permaculture, will do. Yeah the land we have is really arid and we only see rain sporadically for about 2 months of the year. So I will definately have to figure out the water situation. We are maily using raised beds as I get free crates from work that will do well for it. Thanks for the info
 

Britesea

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I live in high desert, so I know about dry gardening also. The best thing we have done so far is to build raised beds, add tons of compost to the soil, and then mulch with wood chips.

Here's an article I found about how they deal with this in Kenya and Botswana:

Drought Gardening

I have lived in many countries over the years, and have always had a vegetable garden. Not just for saving money, as many of the countries I have lived in have had what we considered dirt cheap food, but for the better quality. Nothing compares to the taste of veggies fresh from the garden.

During the past several years, severe drought has hit a number of states here in America. Gardens are blackened and burnt, with food only coming in, grudgingly, thanks to heavy watering every other day. Watching this happen immediately took me back to two of the hardest places I have ever tried to raise food.

Kenya and Botswana. Both places have no rain at all for months and months at a time, and then an entire year’s worth of rain in about 6 weeks. The temperatures, especially in Kenya, make even Texas heatwaves look like a refrigerator. Water sources are unreliable, even in the towns. Yet both places are stuffed with families that grow not only enough to feed themselves, but enough to sell from their personal gardens, not from farms.

So how do they manage that?

They use the following technique, which involves three separate components, all of which are easily made by anyone with the ability to use a shovel, hammer or a trowel.

Raised beds
When we rented our home in Botswana, in the yard behind the house was a series of concrete troughs, roughly 4 feet wide, 2 feet deep, and 15 feet long, running north to south. Concrete base, concrete sides, they looked like fish pools. In the corner of the yard was a pile of soil. Red, dry and fairly lifeless. Those concrete troughs were the raised beds, designed to keep every drop of water you added to the soil from disappearing into the parched earth.

You would fill them with soil during the rainy season and plant your seeds. Drainage holes about 16 inches below the top of the beds would prevent the seeds damping off, and ensure a goodly amount of water for the initial growing. One improvement we made was to use each trough in turn as a deposit for any vegetable waste – a three inch layer of chopped vegetable waste or cow manure in the bottom of the trough would rapidly compost down and improve the soil immensely. At the end of the dry season, when you had harvested the crops, you would shovel out the soil and let the sun sterilize them for the next crop.

Shade netting
Every 3 feet in the troughs was a hole, just the right size to hold a ¾ inch PVC pipe. Most people used branches, but the PVC pipe was more stable and used by anyone who could afford it. Horizontal pipes across the top turned the uprights into a frame, to which you would attach the shade netting, a fine mesh nylon weave. You have seen it before, if you have seen a stone building being renovated – it costs about $30 for 100 yards of 5 foot wide and cuts down the light to the beds by about 40%, according to my very old light meter.

One length of the netting is tied to the top of the frame, and one length on the Eastern and Western side which could be raised or lowered, depending on the day. Our drying evening winds invariably came from the West, so lowering the side flap and tying it down until sunset prevented a lot of wind drying of plants. Then raising it again and tying down the Eastern side, just before bed, prevented the plants being scorched by sunrise.

Thread watering
Watering plants is the biggest problem during a drought. For some plants, the watering can came into play, but for others, like bean vines, pea vines, tomatoes, zucchinis, pumpkins and squashes, we used a technique called thread watering.

Along the top of the shade netting frames for these beds ran three PVC pipes, capped at one end, and attached to a gallon lidded bucket at the other. Each pipe had holes drilled in them – very small holes, less than a millimeter across. At each hole location, you would tie a coarse thread – about 6 lb. test fishing line size, and run the thread down to the base of the plant, pegging it into the soil with a 6” nail. Fill up each bucket every night, and the single gallon of water would irrigate the whole row for 24 hours with minimal losses. The lids did dual duty of preventing evaporation and preventing mosquitoes breeding.

You may want to try it, you may not. But I thought it would be interesting for those who are in the drought to see how people who are always in a drought feed themselves.
 

ChiknGordonBlu

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I live in high desert, so I know about dry gardening also. The best thing we have done so far is to build raised beds, add tons of compost to the soil, and then mulch with wood chips.

Here's an article I found about how they deal with this in Kenya and Botswana:

Drought Gardening

I have lived in many countries over the years, and have always had a vegetable garden. Not just for saving money, as many of the countries I have lived in have had what we considered dirt cheap food, but for the better quality. Nothing compares to the taste of veggies fresh from the garden.

During the past several years, severe drought has hit a number of states here in America. Gardens are blackened and burnt, with food only coming in, grudgingly, thanks to heavy watering every other day. Watching this happen immediately took me back to two of the hardest places I have ever tried to raise food.

Kenya and Botswana. Both places have no rain at all for months and months at a time, and then an entire year’s worth of rain in about 6 weeks. The temperatures, especially in Kenya, make even Texas heatwaves look like a refrigerator. Water sources are unreliable, even in the towns. Yet both places are stuffed with families that grow not only enough to feed themselves, but enough to sell from their personal gardens, not from farms.

So how do they manage that?

They use the following technique, which involves three separate components, all of which are easily made by anyone with the ability to use a shovel, hammer or a trowel.

Raised beds
When we rented our home in Botswana, in the yard behind the house was a series of concrete troughs, roughly 4 feet wide, 2 feet deep, and 15 feet long, running north to south. Concrete base, concrete sides, they looked like fish pools. In the corner of the yard was a pile of soil. Red, dry and fairly lifeless. Those concrete troughs were the raised beds, designed to keep every drop of water you added to the soil from disappearing into the parched earth.

You would fill them with soil during the rainy season and plant your seeds. Drainage holes about 16 inches below the top of the beds would prevent the seeds damping off, and ensure a goodly amount of water for the initial growing. One improvement we made was to use each trough in turn as a deposit for any vegetable waste – a three inch layer of chopped vegetable waste or cow manure in the bottom of the trough would rapidly compost down and improve the soil immensely. At the end of the dry season, when you had harvested the crops, you would shovel out the soil and let the sun sterilize them for the next crop.

Shade netting
Every 3 feet in the troughs was a hole, just the right size to hold a ¾ inch PVC pipe. Most people used branches, but the PVC pipe was more stable and used by anyone who could afford it. Horizontal pipes across the top turned the uprights into a frame, to which you would attach the shade netting, a fine mesh nylon weave. You have seen it before, if you have seen a stone building being renovated – it costs about $30 for 100 yards of 5 foot wide and cuts down the light to the beds by about 40%, according to my very old light meter.

One length of the netting is tied to the top of the frame, and one length on the Eastern and Western side which could be raised or lowered, depending on the day. Our drying evening winds invariably came from the West, so lowering the side flap and tying it down until sunset prevented a lot of wind drying of plants. Then raising it again and tying down the Eastern side, just before bed, prevented the plants being scorched by sunrise.

Thread watering
Watering plants is the biggest problem during a drought. For some plants, the watering can came into play, but for others, like bean vines, pea vines, tomatoes, zucchinis, pumpkins and squashes, we used a technique called thread watering.

Along the top of the shade netting frames for these beds ran three PVC pipes, capped at one end, and attached to a gallon lidded bucket at the other. Each pipe had holes drilled in them – very small holes, less than a millimeter across. At each hole location, you would tie a coarse thread – about 6 lb. test fishing line size, and run the thread down to the base of the plant, pegging it into the soil with a 6” nail. Fill up each bucket every night, and the single gallon of water would irrigate the whole row for 24 hours with minimal losses. The lids did dual duty of preventing evaporation and preventing mosquitoes breeding.

You may want to try it, you may not. But I thought it would be interesting for those who are in the drought to see how people who are always in a drought feed themselves.
You know I worked in various parts of Africa as well for 8 years and never asked how they managed. It does sound like and interesting techniques though. I will have to see if that is a viable option for me.
 

ChiknGordonBlu

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I live in high desert, so I know about dry gardening also. The best thing we have done so far is to build raised beds, add tons of compost to the soil, and then mulch with wood chips.

Here's an article I found about how they deal with this in Kenya and Botswana:

Drought Gardening

I have lived in many countries over the years, and have always had a vegetable garden. Not just for saving money, as many of the countries I have lived in have had what we considered dirt cheap food, but for the better quality. Nothing compares to the taste of veggies fresh from the garden.

During the past several years, severe drought has hit a number of states here in America. Gardens are blackened and burnt, with food only coming in, grudgingly, thanks to heavy watering every other day. Watching this happen immediately took me back to two of the hardest places I have ever tried to raise food.

Kenya and Botswana. Both places have no rain at all for months and months at a time, and then an entire year’s worth of rain in about 6 weeks. The temperatures, especially in Kenya, make even Texas heatwaves look like a refrigerator. Water sources are unreliable, even in the towns. Yet both places are stuffed with families that grow not only enough to feed themselves, but enough to sell from their personal gardens, not from farms.

So how do they manage that?

They use the following technique, which involves three separate components, all of which are easily made by anyone with the ability to use a shovel, hammer or a trowel.

Raised beds
When we rented our home in Botswana, in the yard behind the house was a series of concrete troughs, roughly 4 feet wide, 2 feet deep, and 15 feet long, running north to south. Concrete base, concrete sides, they looked like fish pools. In the corner of the yard was a pile of soil. Red, dry and fairly lifeless. Those concrete troughs were the raised beds, designed to keep every drop of water you added to the soil from disappearing into the parched earth.

You would fill them with soil during the rainy season and plant your seeds. Drainage holes about 16 inches below the top of the beds would prevent the seeds damping off, and ensure a goodly amount of water for the initial growing. One improvement we made was to use each trough in turn as a deposit for any vegetable waste – a three inch layer of chopped vegetable waste or cow manure in the bottom of the trough would rapidly compost down and improve the soil immensely. At the end of the dry season, when you had harvested the crops, you would shovel out the soil and let the sun sterilize them for the next crop.

Shade netting
Every 3 feet in the troughs was a hole, just the right size to hold a ¾ inch PVC pipe. Most people used branches, but the PVC pipe was more stable and used by anyone who could afford it. Horizontal pipes across the top turned the uprights into a frame, to which you would attach the shade netting, a fine mesh nylon weave. You have seen it before, if you have seen a stone building being renovated – it costs about $30 for 100 yards of 5 foot wide and cuts down the light to the beds by about 40%, according to my very old light meter.

One length of the netting is tied to the top of the frame, and one length on the Eastern and Western side which could be raised or lowered, depending on the day. Our drying evening winds invariably came from the West, so lowering the side flap and tying it down until sunset prevented a lot of wind drying of plants. Then raising it again and tying down the Eastern side, just before bed, prevented the plants being scorched by sunrise.

Thread watering
Watering plants is the biggest problem during a drought. For some plants, the watering can came into play, but for others, like bean vines, pea vines, tomatoes, zucchinis, pumpkins and squashes, we used a technique called thread watering.

Along the top of the shade netting frames for these beds ran three PVC pipes, capped at one end, and attached to a gallon lidded bucket at the other. Each pipe had holes drilled in them – very small holes, less than a millimeter across. At each hole location, you would tie a coarse thread – about 6 lb. test fishing line size, and run the thread down to the base of the plant, pegging it into the soil with a 6” nail. Fill up each bucket every night, and the single gallon of water would irrigate the whole row for 24 hours with minimal losses. The lids did dual duty of preventing evaporation and preventing mosquitoes breeding.

You may want to try it, you may not. But I thought it would be interesting for those who are in the drought to see how people who are always in a drought feed themselves.
Also thank you very much for the info. :D
 

flowerbug

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I live in high desert, so I know about dry gardening also. The best thing we have done so far is to build raised beds, add tons of compost to the soil, and then mulch with wood chips.

Here's an article I found about how they deal with this in Kenya and Botswana:

Drought Gardening

I have lived in many countries over the years, and have always had a vegetable garden. Not just for saving money, as many of the countries I have lived in have had what we considered dirt cheap food, but for the better quality. Nothing compares to the taste of veggies fresh from the garden.

During the past several years, severe drought has hit a number of states here in America. Gardens are blackened and burnt, with food only coming in, grudgingly, thanks to heavy watering every other day. Watching this happen immediately took me back to two of the hardest places I have ever tried to raise food.

Kenya and Botswana. Both places have no rain at all for months and months at a time, and then an entire year’s worth of rain in about 6 weeks. The temperatures, especially in Kenya, make even Texas heatwaves look like a refrigerator. Water sources are unreliable, even in the towns. Yet both places are stuffed with families that grow not only enough to feed themselves, but enough to sell from their personal gardens, not from farms.

So how do they manage that?

They use the following technique, which involves three separate components, all of which are easily made by anyone with the ability to use a shovel, hammer or a trowel.

Raised beds
When we rented our home in Botswana, in the yard behind the house was a series of concrete troughs, roughly 4 feet wide, 2 feet deep, and 15 feet long, running north to south. Concrete base, concrete sides, they looked like fish pools. In the corner of the yard was a pile of soil. Red, dry and fairly lifeless. Those concrete troughs were the raised beds, designed to keep every drop of water you added to the soil from disappearing into the parched earth.

You would fill them with soil during the rainy season and plant your seeds. Drainage holes about 16 inches below the top of the beds would prevent the seeds damping off, and ensure a goodly amount of water for the initial growing. One improvement we made was to use each trough in turn as a deposit for any vegetable waste – a three inch layer of chopped vegetable waste or cow manure in the bottom of the trough would rapidly compost down and improve the soil immensely. At the end of the dry season, when you had harvested the crops, you would shovel out the soil and let the sun sterilize them for the next crop.

Shade netting
Every 3 feet in the troughs was a hole, just the right size to hold a ¾ inch PVC pipe. Most people used branches, but the PVC pipe was more stable and used by anyone who could afford it. Horizontal pipes across the top turned the uprights into a frame, to which you would attach the shade netting, a fine mesh nylon weave. You have seen it before, if you have seen a stone building being renovated – it costs about $30 for 100 yards of 5 foot wide and cuts down the light to the beds by about 40%, according to my very old light meter.

One length of the netting is tied to the top of the frame, and one length on the Eastern and Western side which could be raised or lowered, depending on the day. Our drying evening winds invariably came from the West, so lowering the side flap and tying it down until sunset prevented a lot of wind drying of plants. Then raising it again and tying down the Eastern side, just before bed, prevented the plants being scorched by sunrise.

Thread watering
Watering plants is the biggest problem during a drought. For some plants, the watering can came into play, but for others, like bean vines, pea vines, tomatoes, zucchinis, pumpkins and squashes, we used a technique called thread watering.

Along the top of the shade netting frames for these beds ran three PVC pipes, capped at one end, and attached to a gallon lidded bucket at the other. Each pipe had holes drilled in them – very small holes, less than a millimeter across. At each hole location, you would tie a coarse thread – about 6 lb. test fishing line size, and run the thread down to the base of the plant, pegging it into the soil with a 6” nail. Fill up each bucket every night, and the single gallon of water would irrigate the whole row for 24 hours with minimal losses. The lids did dual duty of preventing evaporation and preventing mosquitoes breeding.

You may want to try it, you may not. But I thought it would be interesting for those who are in the drought to see how people who are always in a drought feed themselves.
one thing i would definitely not do is empty those beds to sterilize the soil as they mention. there's just no need to ruin a good soil community by doing that... healthy garden soil is not sterile and instead you should be trying to get as much diversity in there that you can because it all works together. IMO of course but also my experience... :)
 

Britesea

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I agree with you, this was just the way they do things in Africa. The sterilizing is good if there are soil diseases that need to be destroyed though, and it would cut way back on weeds, which steal water from the other plants, so I can see why they might do that.
 
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