Author Topic: Dealing with drought.  (Read 1174 times)

Offline OKCPrepper

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Dealing with drought.
« on: January 12, 2013, 01:03:59 AM »
We have been dealing with extreme drought conditions for the past couple years. 2 years ago it was so dry that neither of the large wild blackberry thickets produced a single berry. These thickets are 150 feet across. We cut pathways though the thickets with a tractor and brush hog. Last spring we got fairly decent rains, enough to get the blackberry and sand plums to produce fairly well, but it quit raining in June. My 1+ acre farm pond is down 8 feet, we are considering having to seine the pond and harvest the fish before it dries completely up and we loose all the fish. At least we will be able to shoot the rest of those darn turtles if it goes completely dry.

I have several areas around my property where we have done some gorilla planting of blueberry, blackberry, elderberry and so on. The ground is so hard now and what little rains we are getting aren't getting down deep into the soil. I remembered the program Jack did a year or so ago on the guy in Africa that dug holes to let the water get down to the roots. I was thinking about using a foot long 3/4" concrete drill and an 18V Dewalt drill and making several holes around the perimeter of each plant. I bought a bit today and will experiment with it over the weekend.

Has anyone done anything like this? I was also thinking about packing some well seasoned horse manure into the bottom of the holes. Any reason not to do either of these ideas?

I have a half dozen fairly large woody (HK) raised beds, 4' x 20'. I was considering drilling a series of the same holes around the outside of the bed support boards and doing some shaping of the ground between the beds to channel the rain water towards the beds / holes.

Last year we rented a D4 dozer and did a lot of catchment ponds and swales. We have started planting fruit and nut trees along the back side of the swales. We have 2 solar powered wells and a good irrigation system for the garden area. So far we are hauling water in a 275 gallon tote mounted on a utility trailer and moving it from place to place with a tractor. This is for those gorilla areas. Hopefully the plants will be established enough by the end of this season that we won't have to haul as much water.

I think this dry period is a long term trend so we are trying everything we can to take advantage of what rain water there is available.

Offline Morgan96

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2013, 03:35:44 AM »
We're thinking along the same lines, OKCprepper.  I've been digging some deep holes around my fruit trees and grapes, not too close, but along the drip lines, hopefully not harming the root system too much.  I've been using one of those 2' augers with a steel loop at the top (more commonly meant to be dug in and left there, with trailers and boats and such padlocked to the top loop).  It's a big of a slog doing it by hand, so I've been thinking like you, get a drill and go the power route.  Our "farm" is close to the Arkansas border, and it's a little wetter than Tulsa.  Even so, it was pretty dry last year. Happy to report that the hugelkultur-style tomato bed did very well, even with sporadic watering.
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Offline OKCPrepper

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2013, 02:01:02 AM »
I bought a 3/4" concrete bit - 12' long. The wife will work on this idea this weekend. We have got to try everything we can, the OKC mayor announced mandatory water rationing this week, in the middle of winter! I have lived in OK for over 30 years now and they have never had to do this before. Sure sometimes in July or August they will limit the amount of watering you can do on your lawns, but we have had so little rain this past year they are having to take more radical steps. Our 2 city lakes that are used as water sources for drinking water are down about 50%.

I will dig several more woody (HK) beds this winter, mine are the in ground type, I have a backhoe so it's pretty easy. Lots of partially decayed wood to fill them up with. We round up several pickup loads of oak leaves from along side the curbs in the fall and early winter once others get them raked up. We mix in a couple bags of leaves in with the wood, layering in soil as we fill it in. We started 3 compost large piles 2 weeks ago, started with mulched oak leaves, seasoned horse manure, adding bags of hay and rabbit droppings, egg shells and anything I can get my hands on to throw in it. Not too many kitchen scraps, the rabbits get all of that stuff. Guess it ends up there anyway after the rabbit's have processed it for me.

We use the shredded oak leaves as ground / mulch cover in and around the garden to help keep the moisture in. I don't have a lot of background in gardening, but learning fast. I teamed up with a partner who has run a 2 acre market garden for the past 7 years, his experience and expertise will help get our current 60 acre project off the ground much quicker. We are currently working with 5 acres that is the garden, focusing on 2 of that for now with all the manure we can haul in. The other 3 are being planted with cover crops. We are having to till the soil a lot more than we would like to, but having to do so to kill out the weeds. It's a big undertaking, but we have the equipment and several families that are helping out on the project.   

Offline Skunkeye

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2013, 11:39:06 AM »
I use one of these:

  http://www.amazon.com/Yard-Butler-WST-1-Tree-Watering/dp/B000P7M740

to water established trees and shrubs.  It works pretty well, gets the water down deep in the soil very efficiently.  I usually backfill the small hole it creates with compost, to further reduce evaporation and feed the plant. 

One thing you might try with the concrete drill is, after you've drilled the hole, place a bucket of water with a pinhole in it over the hole so that the water drips slowly into it.  That slow trickle will hydrate the soil very well, and keep it in the root zone of your plant.
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Offline Cedar

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2013, 11:44:25 AM »
Don't forget to put bricks or water bottles in your toilet tank.

Save water from your kitchen sink. Wash/rise into a dishpan and use that water in your garden/trees.

See if you can redirect shower/bath water into a greywater system

It is very easy to hook a garden hose up to your washing machine and send it outside. My parents watered their 1,000 roses in the garden with washing machine water.

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Offline fred.greek

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2013, 01:49:06 PM »
As a tool, check the Arid Permaculture pamphlet:

http://www.permacultureproject.com/pamphlets/perm03.pdf

Retired, but still working in the garden...

Offline OKCPrepper

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2013, 02:52:04 AM »

Save water from your kitchen sink. Wash/rise into a dishpan and use that water in your garden/trees.

See if you can redirect shower/bath water into a greywater system

Cedar

Were building our house on our farm now, the black water and gray water are designed as separate systems.

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I am willing to try just about anything, at least once.

Mike

Offline endurance

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2013, 10:06:18 AM »
I'm afraid I'm going to be in the same boat this summer.  Last year we had record wildfires the first half of the summer.  By January 20 last year we had just over 50" of snow.  This year we're at less than 20" so far.  We're in serious, serious trouble if we don't get at least another 40" of snow over the next three months.  Last year they put in an outdoor watering ban at the end of June, just before the rains came, which saved me.  This year they may start the season with one, in which case I'll likely lose all my strawberries and shrubs that I put in last season.  My plans to expand the garden this year bay another 770 square feet are on hold.  I'm just hoping to hang on to the fruit trees and shrubs I already have.

My only suggestion is mulch, mulch, mulch.  I already have several inches, but plan to double down as temperatures warm up again.  The only problem I face is that my drip irrigation is on the surface, which is great for monitoring, but you lose more to evaporation.  When I add more mulch, the watering will be more effective, but I won't be able to see that a dripper is clogged or leaking excessively.  It's just going to take more attention than in the past.
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Offline beakerello

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2013, 08:19:25 PM »
I hear ya, I'm up around the Tulsa area. I can see water rationing later this spring and summer. We are about 24 inches short for the last 2 years. We normally get about 10-12 inches between now and May, we need twice that to break the drought. Normal precip is around 35 to 40 inches.

Offline OKCPrepper

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2013, 12:17:00 AM »
I recently watched the Back to Eden video that was linked in one of the other forum topics. This really caught my attention when they talked about the reduction in water use for irrigation. I am looking into a PTO driven wood chipper for my Kubota tractor. This is what I am liking so far.
http://www.woodmaxx.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=WM-8M

We had a work crew clearing brush and trees along the road over the past couple weeks preparing for new power lines being ran. We instructed the crew to drop several loads of their chips on our property, they were eager to do so to avoid hauling them to a dump site. We already started work on covering our woodie (HK) beds with several inches of wood chips.

With a 2 acre garden, 5 woodie beds, several gorilla beds and an orchard were going to need a lot of chips. This solves a second problem as now I will be able to make use of those broken and fallen limbs rather than leaving them on the ground to rot, or hauling them off to the burn pile. Now I just have to figure out what can be done with all of the Cedar trees we have. They are a real pest here in OK. Short of making fence posts with them, I am not sure what use they are.

We planted over 75 fruit and nut trees 2 season ago and lost all of them to the drought. We couldn't hall enough water to these remote locations and keep ahead of the 110 degree heat and no rain. We will try again this spring, but will utilize several inches of wood chips around the planting to help retain what moisture is there. Live and learn.

 

Offline Samuel Fairlane

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2013, 03:51:40 AM »
I think it's neat that the back to eden works for different issues. I do it for weed suppression. I get 40 inches plus of rain a year. If I turn my back on a yard in my area and it will look like life after people. We did have a pretty good draught last summer,  but I still had green corn without putting one drop of water on it.

Offline lettuceman

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2013, 08:15:35 AM »
OKC

I have a friend who has a olive orchard in central TX.  He has heavy mulch around his trees with a good drip irrigation system.  When mulch the trees, keep the mulch several inches from the trunks.

Offline OKCPrepper

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2013, 01:19:25 AM »
OKC

I have a friend who has a olive orchard in central TX.  He has heavy mulch around his trees with a good drip irrigation system.  When mulch the trees, keep the mulch several inches from the trunks.

Thanks for the tip. It makes sense to focus on the drip line of the tree.

95Bravo, I've got a big weed problem to deal with as well. We have been tilling in horse manure and that has helped with some of the weeds. Hopefully this will eliminate the need for the tilling and take care of the weeds at the same time.

Offline SVFBrett

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2013, 04:13:30 PM »
Ya'll are on the money with they mulch mulch mulch idea.  One thing to keep in mind is the wicking power of soil meaning that you can't just mulch the plant, you have to mulch the entire area and then a sufficient boundary around the area cuz where your mulch stops is where the dry soil starts stealing moisture from your mulched soil. 
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Offline Samuel Fairlane

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2013, 08:44:17 PM »
Spent the beautiful day today, working on the "bones" of a large swale. This swale will ( I hope) divert the water that rolls down this hill into my farm pond. I'm just about to start trenching. My two mommy ewes seem to enjoy watching me drag brush around.

Offline OKCPrepper

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Re: Dealing with drought.
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2013, 02:11:39 AM »
Spent the beautiful day today, working on the "bones" of a large swale. This swale will ( I hope) divert the water that rolls down this hill into my farm pond. I'm just about to start trenching. My two mommy ewes seem to enjoy watching me drag brush around.

Sounds like a fun project. We rented a D4 a couple times last year and did a lot of swale and built several retention ponds, problem is no darn rain to fill them up. We did get .75" yesterday, most it has rained in a single day in several months.