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Desert/Semi-Arid Farming Keywords

 
Posts: 26
Location: Central Louisiana Zone9a:Silty Clay Loam: Alt.69ft.
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Hello Desert & Desert-ish Dwellers,
Aside from scrolling through other posts, I'd like a list of points and techniques to research when it coms to desert/semi-arid farming. I'm looking for keywords and phrases that I can use to find more information on the subject.
A few to get started:

Desert/Semi-Arid Farming Tactics
  H├╝gelkultur Gardens
  No-Till Farming
  Grassland Mob-Grazing
  Swells/Swales
  Keyline Plowing

Desert Farming Advocates & Books
  Allan Savory & Book: Holistic Management
  Geoff Lawton
  Brad Lancaster & Book: Rainwater Harvesting For Drylands
  Sepp Holzer & Book: Desert or Paradise

Please add anything you think would be useful!
P.S. How do share this to the Rockies forum?
 
gardener
Posts: 708
Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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Geoff Lawton greening the desert.
greening the desert
"man planting hundred thousand trees" throw this into youtube search engine
long threat on Permies
arid&barren
 
Marie Repara
Posts: 26
Location: Central Louisiana Zone9a:Silty Clay Loam: Alt.69ft.
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Thanks for the tip. My library has hardly any books about dryland management and I've had a hard time finding a general guide, so I figured I would research topics somewhat individually. Does anyone know of a good general guide book on the subject that would be worth owning? I can't afford to buy a bunch of books that are a one-time read.
 
Marie Repara
Posts: 26
Location: Central Louisiana Zone9a:Silty Clay Loam: Alt.69ft.
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P.S. I've not actually read the books above yet, -not sure which to potentially invest in. One of things about having "keywords" is that, though I can't find dryland farming books at my library, I can find "h├╝gelkultur", "plowing methods", etc. I just have to know exactly what it is I'm looking for so I can weed out some books. Someone mentioned "Gaia's Garden": apparently it does have a bit about arid-land, and my library actually has that one. So, it's a bit of a discovery game.
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Buried Wood Beds  https://permies.com/t/52077/Buried-Wood-Beds
 
Hugo Morvan
gardener
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Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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Guess a lot of problems you face in dry areas/deserts account for other areas too although less extreme.
Permaculture way of thinking applies to deserts too, you might pick up a lot from a general PDC course or a permaculture book of Sepp Holzer.
My mother ordered that, in her native tongue, but couldn't read it, because her mind was not set into thinking about all aspects of gardening in this way.
She gave it to me, and i knew most of it through practice and failures. Gardening had got me observing, failures got me informing on the internet, that's how i stumbled into Permies, which i had heard of.
If there was a perfect book for desert permaculture about and you have no gardening experience, you can read it but it won't make any sense.
I don't know where you are at, but i personally don't think there are shortcuts to take.
Gardening is gardening, plants are plants and permaculture is applied and tested logic.
Maybe read a basic book and go volunteer somewhere hot and arid?
 
Posts: 491
Location: Richwood, West Virginia
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pollinator
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Hi, Marie! Are you looking at getting started with dryland farming somewhere in particular? I moved from Wisconsin back to Arizona in 2015 and started researching this using the internet and public libraries, as you are from the sound of it. I haven't yet found one comprehensive "manual." I'll let you know if I do! :) Some great books and other resources, in no particular order, include:

  • Brad Lancaster's rainwater harvesting books - the best
  • David A. Bainbridge, A Guide for Desert and Dryland Restoration (link may begin a PDF download) and Gardening with less water: low-tech, low-cost techniques for using up to 90% less water in your garden
  • Tom Del Hotal, "Drought Tolerant Producing Trees, Shrubs and Vines" (powerpoint-type presentation, link may begin a PDF download)
  • University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County, "Food Gardening with Less Water" (contains list of links to their publications, including the very handy eponymous guide here -- link may begin a PDF download)
  • Jessie Bloom & Dave Boehnlein, Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth has good general info. on water harvesting earthworks, hierarchy of water use, key line design, rainwater catchment and storage systems, greywater, harnessing the energy of that brutal sun, etc.
  • this collection of Bill Mollison's permaculture pamphlets (link may begin PDF download), including "Permaculture in Arid Landscapes," as well as his Introduction to Permaculture with Reny Mia Slay, especially for sections on water and dryland gardens and orchards
  • Lisa Rayner, Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains: A guide to high altitude, semi-arid home permaculture gardens (4th Edition, 2013) - if you're considering somewhere that is also high altitude like where we are, this is an unbelievably excellent resource (Amazon link)
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    Marie Repara
    Posts: 26
    Location: Central Louisiana Zone9a:Silty Clay Loam: Alt.69ft.
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    Wow, thanks for all the resources! I'm in Ohio right now, but may very likely be moving out west to settle on a homestead within the next couple years. I seriously considered southern Colorado for a while, but am keeping my options open. In the meantime, the internet has been pathetic about pulling up decent information regarding dryland farming on its own, so Permies has been a life saver, (I extend my search from there.) I've always been intimidated about the dryer climates, but these forums have really given me inspiration. I know basic eastern gardening techniques, (and feel like a spoiled baby when I read about what you all are dealing with ;-) but I also realize that eastern farming techniques caused a lot of ambitious pioneers to lose everything out west because it's SO different.
    One thing I have not been able to wrap my head around is how you plant crops like grains, potatoes and such, without tearing up/tilling up the dirt? Do you just forego field crops altogether? Beef and Dairy here-we-come...?
     
    Beth Wilder
    pollinator
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    Sure! You might also want to research farming methods of the Tohono O'odham and Akimel O'odham, formerly referred to as the Papago and Pima, respectively. (Look for books by Gary Paul Nabhan, Amadeo Rea, and Wendy C. Hodgson, among others.) They have long engaged in dryland farming, including -- probably most famously -- wheat and cotton. Teparies, cowpeas, chickpeas, corn, squash, and devil's claw are other important crops. I'm no expert, but my understanding is that they primarily engage(d) in floodwater irrigation of their fields by placing them at the mouths of washes, etc. or in river deltas. Lots of canals and other direction of irrigation waters.

    We modify what little we know of O'odham methods for our situation to grow tepary and other beans as well as various squash in deep sunken beds/rows fed by floodwater irrigation canals and filled with mulch. We seed those into the sides of the ditches. We seed devil's claw (we eat the immature fruits) at the edges of the tops/sides of the paths. We do flour corn in the same way when we plant it (not this year). The sunken rows and beds are dug once and composted and mulched repeatedly, and we assume we'll need to get in there and re-deepen them after a couple years because of accumulated soil and sediment, but no regular tillage.

    We tried sweet potatoes in a sunken bed last year, but digging them up messed with the careful grading of the irrigation, so this fall we'll dig a bed specifically for roots and tubers (including potatoes and garlic, but also native plants like flame flower, hog potato, etc.) that will be fed by floodwater irrigation but placed so that digging in there to harvest won't mess up the watering of any other areas/crops.
     
    Marie Repara
    Posts: 26
    Location: Central Louisiana Zone9a:Silty Clay Loam: Alt.69ft.
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    Thank you so much Beth! I'm finally pulling up some books at my library by the authors you mentioned, -don't know why it wasn't pulling them up under "desert" to begin with. I hear that mulch is an absolute must. After reading so many dryland threads, I start looking at my fallen branches and tree trimmings like gold... lol.  Do you have hard time getting clean mulch or are you able to harvest your own? Around here, county harvested mulch (the stuff you get for free) is full of trash and pesticides.
     
    Beth Wilder
    pollinator
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    We heat and often cook with wood (almost entirely mesquite deadwood), so we rake up chipped wood from our woodpile area and use that as our top mulch. Directly against the soil we layer essentially chop and drop -- cut weeds, aiming to get them before they go to seed -- and then the mesquite chips on top of that. If we were to want more wood chips, we'd probably contact an arborist/tree trimmer, although we'd almost certainly have to haul their chips ourselves since we live way off the beaten path. Those may well be contaminated with pesticides. Luckily so far we've been self-sufficient in that regard, but we also really target our use of wood chips to right around where we're growing at this point rather than doing the kind of broadcast mulch we might do if we were at the point of trying to get a larger food forest started. Baby steps!
     
    Posts: 571
    Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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    I've found a key technique is planting the right selection of trees and plants. A very useful search term is "drought tolerant".
    Although it is possible to shape your plot and tame the environment so you can plant more or less what you like, when you are starting in the desert, it's really important to just plant anything that will grow, to get some shade, windbreak, and to get a root network going. Put as much drought tolerant stuff in as you can, especially fast growing and nitrogen fixing, then grow the good stuff in its shade, downwind, nearby.
     
    Posts: 26
    Location: Currently staying with a friend near the four corners, usa
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    For desert tactics I would add Waffle Gardens to the list.

    ABQ Stew
     
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