Author Topic: arid climate gardening  (Read 605 times)

Socrates

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arid climate gardening
« on: September 26, 2017, 12:45:33 AM »
Yeah, yeah, yeah... deserts are bad for growing food, right?
Oh, so wrong...

For survival purposes, especially, deserts are a wonderful place to set up shop. Actually, to escape the ignorant hungry masses, you only have 3 good options: heading for the hills, a desert or an island; these options are where the masses will not turn in times of crisis.
Of these three options, however, deserts are truly the least tantalizing to starving masses [i.e. 'zombies'; as i always say: "Zombie apocalypse"? Man, that's already happened..."]. Who's gonna look for food in a desert? Islands and mountains are a lot of work to get to, but if you're desperate, you might just chance it. But only suicidal folk ever venture into a desert. Hell, there's [i.e. supposedly...] not even water there!

Basic permaculture principles, however, prove this premise very wrong. And if Geoff Lawton can create an oasis in one of the harshest climates in the world, there's all the proof you need to know it's possible.
Anyway, that's all about my introduction to this long vid about a guy down in Phoenix and his advice on growing [and what to grow] in the desert.
@ 1:12:39 [i.e. almost the end] he mentions a few great species to get:
- dates
- jujube
- grapes
- figs
- moringa
- edible cacti
- dragon fruit
(and other options mentioned in this vid, like banana, goji berries, etc.)
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 01:44:37 AM by Socrates »
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ilinda

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Re: arid climate gardening
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2017, 04:30:26 PM »
Yeah, yeah, yeah... deserts are bad for growing food, right?
Oh, so wrong...

For survival purposes, especially, deserts are a wonderful place to set up shop. Actually, to escape the ignorant hungry masses, you only have 3 good options: heading for the hills, a desert or an island; these options are where the masses will not turn in times of crisis.
Of these three options, however, deserts are truly the least tantalizing to starving masses [i.e. 'zombies'; as i always say: "Zombie apocalypse"? Man, that's already happened..."]. Who's gonna look for food in a desert? Islands and mountains are a lot of work to get to, but if you're desperate, you might just chance it. But only suicidal folk ever venture into a desert. Hell, there's [i.e. supposedly...] not even water there!

Basic permaculture principles, however, prove this premise very wrong. And if Geoff Lawton can create an oasis in one of the harshest climates in the world, there's all the proof you need to know it's possible.
Anyway, that's all about my introduction to this long vid about a guy down in Phoenix and his advice on growing [and what to grow] in the desert.
@ 1:12:39 [i.e. almost the end] he mentions a few great species to get:
- dates
- jujube
- grapes
- figs
- moringa
- edible cacti
- dragon fruit
(and other options mentioned in this vid, like banana, goji berries, etc.)
Anyone who peruses the seed catalog of Native Seed Search will agree that much can be grown in the desert. 

One time after I had read a hype-article in a newspaper about how genetic engineering will save the world by creating crops that grow in arid conditions, including drought, I dragged out my latest NativeSeedSearch catalog and counted over a hundred, maybe closer to 200 seed varieties available that have been grown in the desert Southwest (of U.S.) for centuries and centuries.  I was prompted to write a letter to editor to counter the fake news.

In addition, you don't even have to live in the desert to grow in drought conditions.  The key is water your seeds and plants only when young, and only for the first week or two, and once they are established, do not water.  They will send roots down deeper and deeper if you conquer your addiction to watering!  One gardening friend told me to observe squash plants and how in the heat of the day and evening they will wilt down and look so sad and helpless.  She said, do NOT water them unless they are still drooping the next morning.  If they are perked up again the next morning, remember they were just trying their best to protect themselves during the heat.

I haven't watered my garden all year, except to get everything started.  The winter squash, Yamiken, is the best we've ever had and I'm guessing we'll have 100 or more squash.  Even the fall lettuce is holding up in this extended and late heat.  I did drape a row cover above it to protect it from mid-day sun.

And best of all, it's the lazy way to garden--not watering.  Now if you are in serious drought and nothing is growing because you haven't had one drop of rain in 6 months, maybe watering might not help anyway.  And an important BTW.  Two days ago another gardening friend told me because of the heat and dry, she watered her squash and beans, and the squash all died!  My theory is that they had opened up their water channels to the max. due to the extended dry conditions, and they were then unexpectedly flooded when friend watered heavily, and all that water was taken up and perhaps the plant drowned!

Socrates

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Re: not watering
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2017, 07:45:03 PM »
This is good advice in this 'irrigation culture' we've all grown up in.

Watering will not only stunt growth of roots, causing them to become dependent on ever more water, but it can cause roots and other subterranean life to drown and rot.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 11:09:57 PM by Socrates »
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ilinda

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Re: not watering
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2017, 06:29:44 PM »
This is good advice in this 'irrigation culture' we've all grown up in.

Watering will not only stunt growth of roots, causing them to become dependent on ever more water, but it can cause roots and other subterranean life to drown and rot.
The only exception I can think of with watering/not watering is that I remembered after writing that, that my fig trees haven't been watered in weeks and they really do need water, much more so than garden annuals.  So I did water and they did thank me.

But olive trees do not get watered here, as their home country is fairly dry anyway.

Socrates

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Re: watering figs
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2017, 06:39:36 PM »
my fig trees haven't been watered in weeks and they really do need water, much more so than garden annuals.
But how old are they?
Geoff Lawton mentions using figs in his desert initiative. But of course they were surrounded by heaps of mulch; do you have any ground covering under the figs?
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ilinda

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Re: arid climate gardening
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2017, 06:41:59 PM »
This post is about beans, a crop I never thought I'd learn much more about.  You know, beans are beans.  Right?  Well, not so fast.

I've grown two types of beans for years and years:  Christmas Lima beans and Cherokee Trail of Tears beans.  Both varieties are pole beans, so will grow well/best on a trellis, so this year I put them on the same trellis, each having the opposite end of said trellis.

Well, I accidentally noticed the other day --what a difference in the two crops that were planted in the same soil and at the same time of year.  I NEVER noticed the difference before, presumably because they were never grown on the same trellis before.

It took only a glance to realize that the limas are still lush and green, still flowering, and still growing, while the Cherokee bean vines have basically died, with few green leaves remaining, and no new flowering, with most leaves and pods dead and dying.  If we have a late frost, who knows how many more limas we will have, whereas, the Cherokee Trail of Tears bean apparently is more like a "determinate tomato", wherein it grows, does its thing, then stops growing, then dies.  The lima will die only when it gets hit by freezing.

The Christmas limas are on the left, with the Cherokee Trail of Tears bean on the right end of trellis.  I must add, though, that there is more to a bean that longevity, such as taste, nutrition, and versatility, but this has been a really big eye-opener for this long-time gardener.

I'll still grow both, but may reserve a bit more space for the limas next time, as there is another bonus with the Christmas limas.  Bugs either don't like them very much, or perhaps they have a tougher outer skin, as I find far less bug damage, than in many other types of beans, including Cherokee Trail of Tears.  On the other hand, the Cherokee bean makes a great black bean hummus.

ilinda

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Re: watering figs
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2017, 06:47:26 PM »
my fig trees haven't been watered in weeks and they really do need water, much more so than garden annuals.
But how old are they?
Geoff Lawton mentions using figs in his desert initiative. But of course they were surrounded by heaps of mulch; do you have any ground covering under the figs?
The two newest ones are less than two years old, and are in huge pots, so they might be even more subject to drying than if they were in ground.  The two older trees, more than 5 years of age, are in the ground but one did seem to be droopy.  I think they all need water for now and will make sure within a day or so all get some water, but won't flood them as my friend did her squash.

I remember in one blurb by someone growing figs, the guy said his fig trees got some water every day and in that year he had the best crop ever.  (Not sure I'd water them EVERY day!)

Socrates

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Re: watering figs
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2017, 11:31:33 PM »
the guy said his fig trees got some water every day and in that year he had the best crop ever.
I guess you can addict any tree to water... They'll just die the moment you walk away's all.
But there's the matter of roots and the matter of soil; i've been watching some youtubers having amazing results with figs [and other trees and crops] and they all seem serious about wood chips [i.e. mulch].
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R.R. Book

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Re: arid climate gardening
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2017, 03:15:54 PM »
Ilinda, Your butter bean vine is gorgeous!  How do your harvests compare between the two cultivars?

Will try to snap a pic of my purple hyacinth bean vine as soon as the rains from Nate let up. 

As far as frost dates, we're predicted to have our first light 40 degree frost a week from tonight, totally skipping a 35 degree killing frost and plunging down slightly below freezing three days later. 

Have also dug up the potato harvest and will do a count and cultivar comparison shortly. Mostly just got enough for next year's seed, having started peri-Solstice, but that's all I really wanted it for. :)

Socrates

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Re: watering figs
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2017, 06:04:18 PM »
do you have any ground covering under the figs?
The two newest ones are less than two years old, and are in huge pots
I just happened to run into the following; maybe an idea for your figs:
Why You Should Semi-Bury Your Potted Fig Trees
Interesting thing this guy mentions, though, is that the pot has the benefit that the dirt in the pot warms up sooner in spring and wakes the plant up weeks sooner than those in the ground.
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ilinda

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Re: watering figs
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2017, 11:21:43 AM »
do you have any ground covering under the figs?
The two newest ones are less than two years old, and are in huge pots
I just happened to run into the following; maybe an idea for your figs:
Why You Should Semi-Bury Your Potted Fig Trees
Interesting thing this guy mentions, though, is that the pot has the benefit that the dirt in the pot warms up sooner in spring and wakes the plant up weeks sooner than those in the ground.
He has a nice setup and the greenhouse really sets it off, as that solves his winter problem.  I think the reason I put my two newest fig trees in pots, is because I'm not sure where they need to go for their permanent spot in the ground, but it will probably be inside the "Olive House", which is a makeshift "winter greenhouse" whose sole purpose is to keep the olive trees alive in our cold winters.  Both figs and olives here really love our spring, summer and fall, so winter is the only problem.

The guy in the video didn't say where he is but it sounds pretty temperate, such as across the middle of the U.S., most likely.  Thanks for posting.

ilinda

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Re: arid climate gardening
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2017, 03:38:54 PM »
Ilinda, Your butter bean vine is gorgeous!  How do your harvests compare between the two cultivars?

Will try to snap a pic of my purple hyacinth bean vine as soon as the rains from Nate let up. 

As far as frost dates, we're predicted to have our first light 40 degree frost a week from tonight, totally skipping a 35 degree killing frost and plunging down slightly below freezing three days later. 

Have also dug up the potato harvest and will do a count and cultivar comparison shortly. Mostly just got enough for next year's seed, having started peri-Solstice, but that's all I really wanted it for. :)
Haven't tallied any harvests yet, but early on, the limas appear to be obvious winners, as I'm fairly certain I'll get at least two gallon jugs full of dry limas for soups, etc., whereas am predicting to get about 1 gallon of Cherokee Trail of Tears bean.

You and I did the same thing re potatoes--mostly just for seed potatoes for 2018. 

How do you use the purple hyacinth beans?