Drought ideas

spector

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I have been struggling with this for years now. I live in an area that is known for very dry summers, with drought conditions in summer for many years now. I have a well, so as long as I have power, I have water, at least unless the water table drops precipitously. I am also looking into having a new well drilled, as the one I have doesn't produce well, despite being deepened twice. I am also looking into a solar powered pump. But in the spirit of self-sufficiency, I have been trying to figure out what I would do if the well ran out and/or the power went out and that water was no longer accessible.

I have rain catchment systems, and we get a decent amount of rain in winter/spring, but I can store only about 6,000 gallons, all told, which is great in a short term disaster, but would not be enough to keep me, the livestock, and the garden going for very long in the 100+F days of summer.

Does anyone have any good information related to keeping a garden and fruit trees alive under strict water conservation guidelines? I would love to try it now, while I can still experiment, rather than have to try it when/if it becomes critical. (Not to mention it would keep the power bill down as I wouldn't be drawing from the well as much.) I feel like I have covered all other aspects of self-providing, as I have large producing gardens, several dozens of various fruit trees, shrubs, etc, chickens, "free" firewood (at least for the foreseeable future), a wood stove, and dry goods that will sustain me for at least a year. But the weak link in the chain is water. No naturally occurring bodies close enough to use, and the current well is very deep, so I am thinking manually drawing it out would not work, so my only options are to store it.

I should mention that I already use tree bags for the fruit trees and have been very happy with those. They shade the trunks while also delivering water in a slow drip. I find I have to fill them only about weekly in the hottest part of summer. I also have olla jars in the perennial beds.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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We have a large water barrel connected to our gutters that fills up during wet season. This gives us enough water in case of emergencies and can last quite a while if used sparingly. Connecting up multiple would increase the amount of water that could be used. Ours is put in she shade of a bush that we intentionally grow over and around it, so it doesn't heat up as much; which also helps reduce evaporation. If you garden in pots or raised beds perhaps hydro crystals could work for you too, as it reduces the amount of water 'lost' as it holds onto the liquid until the plant roots suck it out of them. They really help keep my smaller pots alive during hot, dry days.

Sadly I don't know enough to really help out with this as I lack knowledge. It can also depend on where you live, what rules there are and what options you may have. People like digging their own 'ponds' so that they fill up during a wet season and can sustain their livestock for a good amount of time before it even starts to dry out. In saying that those ponds are often deeper rather than wide. My guess is that this helps reduce surface evaporation. This could help fight the amount needed from your tank to sustain your livestock.
 

DThille

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Have you ventured into the ideas of regenerative agriculture / soil food web? I’ve seen some pretty dramatic examples of how applying these practices stored water in the soil and raised the water table. Among other ideas, keep the soil covered, till as little as possible, have living roots in the soil as much as possible. If you haven’t already, look up the Savory Institute and Dr. Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web School. Depending on how much land you have and the practices of your neighbours, you may not be able to have enough influence on these natural systems, but neighbours may also see your land green when theirs isn’t so copy what you’re doing and have a greater impact.

While this wouldn’t necessarily address your primary question, it may reduce your need for water which can help and if the water table rises, that will make it easier for wells. Good luck.
 

spector

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Thank you, Derek, I will check it out. I have just acquired some property adjacent to mine, so I have 20 acres and the new property has a seasonal pond on it. I am thinking about trying to dredge that out to deepen it, as it never lasts through the summer right now.
 

t4ms

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I gardened through three years of drought 😱

My little garden thrived during this time and my water use was minimal. I had everything in (very) heavily mulched beds or pots. Mulch. Mulch. And more mulch. Every drop of water went on the garden (use grey water detergents) and my tomatoes loved being peed on. Given your permanent water issues I would suggest wicking beds. Check out this video by Happen Films. This acreage is south of where I used to live and was subjected to the same drought conditions:



As far as being able to source water during a power outage, I do recommend (I've never had to do this but I've been at places that have) raising your tank on a tower which is what you see a lot 'out bush' here in Oz. You pump up to the tower and then the water is gravity fed. It means you only have to run your pump occasionally to fill the tank.

You may also need to think seriously about what you can sustain in your climate and adapt to your water availability.
 

JP 1983

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A focus on drought-tolerant plants also helps a lot.

Figs, jujube, fruiting cactus... this guy has some pretty interesting videos on successfully growing fruit trees in Phoenix, Arizona.





 
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