This year has been hotter and drier then any other year during which I considered myself a gardener. Before I began growing my own food, I really didn’t worry much about the weather, but now I do. It’s become so warm that my winter squash produced and died at least a month ago, and all of the cucumber and zucchini that usually protrude from my ears is no where to be found. My tomatoes are still doing very well, but all else is basically lost.
I won’t give up however, and I’ve decided to take a new approach. I’ve come to realize that my huge garden is pointless, and a drain on myself and my resources. I decided to plant a much smaller garden. I then began thinking about a shade system to keep my cucumbers cool, and imagined a tarp extending from my shed over a small area. I kicked around some of the soil near the shed and had a eureka moment. This soil was great, and free of stones.
The next step in my plan was to level this mound of soil, and try to keep the spot leaning into the morning sun much as my current garden does. I also needed to remove some weeds that would cause severe itching if allowed to touch my skin. This all sounded like a great use for the Tractor and back blade, so I began my work. After many gallons of gas, and lots of play time in the dirt, I had a new template for which to plan next years harvest.
I now have more work to do. This soil is a great base from which to grow, but it will need to be amended with manure, epson salt, bio-char and a few other enrichment’s. I’m also planing to run a permanent water line to the shed, and create a simple way to shade crops.
I have been reading your blog for quite some time now and enjoy it very much. We are also having a very hot and extremely dry summer here in Slovenia (Europe). Some areas are totally dead – trees are starting to let go of their leaves because they are only burden to them, the grass became straw like and yellowish-brown and the soil turns into sand … I have been mulching and watering my permaculture garden but the draft took its toll. I have found a very interesting idea on a permaculture blog Bealtaine cottage about using sheep wool at the bottom of a raised garden bed; I will get some unwashed, raw sheep wool this weekend and try it out for myself. Perhaps that info might be useful for you too. I am also using biochar in my garden (made by myself on a biochar stove or bought as a compost with biochar to grow seedlings in it). Could you please share more of your experience with biochar?
Warm regards, Bojca
I’m hoping very much that this weather is an isolated incident, and that our normal patterns will re-emerge next year. I’ve done a great deal of investigating about climate change, and seem to have found two schools of thought: Either the world will steadily warm and slowly change weather patterns, or the weather will become chaotic and change from hot dry periods to flooding conditions. In the long term, I see our northern areas warming by about ten degrees F (perhaps 5 C). I’m hoping my own area will eventually receive more rain then normal, and I’d imagine your closeness to the Mediterranean sea will bring rain there as well.
As for Bio-Char, Here is the last method that I’ve used, although it’s not very climate friendly:
I’ll be refining my design this fall/winter, and try to use as little wood to begin the process as possible. Once the bio-mass inside heats to a certain temperature, it will give off flammable gases that continue the heating process.
When the burn is complete, I add water to the mixture, and sprinkle in some Miracle Grow plant food and Epson Salt. I then stir it in very well. The chemicals will absorb into the char, and can be released when added to the garden. I have no proof that the chemicals remain in the char, but I’m hoping they last much longer then chemical fertilizer which runs off almost immediately. I then add a sprinkling of the char throughout the garden. I’ve had GREAT luck with tomatoes this way.
As for the problem of climate change, I think it will require a serious change in our society to tackle. I believe it will take a U.S. military size commitment to fix our climate, and the sooner the better.