Here in Northern California we only see rain about 4-5 months out of the year. That leaves the rest of the year pretty dry and it is hard to farm without rainfall. Lucky for us we live next to the Pacific Ocean where fog rolls in many nights feeding precious water to our thirsty heirloom vegetables. This amazing fog is the life blood of farming in the dry summer months. Without each precious droplet our plants wouldn't survive.
We could choose to irrigate with thousands of valuable gallons of water like most farmers do, but we do not consider that sustainable. We are big believers in what is called dry farming. In dry farming little or no irrigation is added to the crops.
We try hard to follow these guidelines where possible and only use water when needed. When we do, we use drip irrigation placing each precious drop right where it is needed. No wasteful over-head watering.
Water is a precious resource that all of us need to learn to manage better. As farmers we can consume large amounts of water if we weren't careful. It is our job as good stewards of the land to be aware of things like fog and learn how to better take advantage of such resources. We have plans in the making to design large fog catching nets that would channel the tiny droplets downward.
This is nothing new! Redwoods have been doing it for thousands of years. They reach hundreds of feet into the air and catch the tiny droplets drinking in life at a time of year that is bone dry. However, as you can see from the photos you don't have to reach any higher than a cabbage leaf to get a drink.
We use mulch as well to keep moisture stored in the ground. Here in this picture to the left you see sheep's wool being used. It does a great job of catching small fog droplets and transferring them to the plants and ground. It is also insulating and the smell keeps the gophers away. This wool was from a neighboring farm and would have been thrown away after sheering. It composts well and as you can see makes a nice mulch. Part of being sustainable means learning what local resources you have around you and how to use them to your advantage.
|Catz in Hawaii||
Gardens and spinning seem to go together somehow. I've been putting the seconds and other un-spinnable wool into the compost pile to increase the protein in the soil, I hadn't thought about using it as mulch! Brilliant! Especially when getting raw fleeces that haven't really been very well skirted, all those daggy bits can be mulch especially since it comes with fertilizer already embedded.
Is there any problem with the wind blowing it around?
I am a spinnerof yarn, and have a great appreciaiton of wool. Your wool mulch is fantastic!! What a great use of a low quality fleece! Thanks for the great tip!!!
Sarah Robicheaux, Anchorage, Ak
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