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Fog Farming

 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.Fog    drops on cabbage

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 aren'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.

Comments on Fog Farming

Steve Todd 09-22-2015 03:02 PM
Fog has another benefit - frost prevention- Fields near lakes and streams are often shrouded in fog during cold nights. The fog can prevent frost from forming. The fog can add days or weeks to the frost free period. It is not fool proof but it can sometimes save a crop. This use of fog was employed near La Paz, Bolivia by the ancients.
Pennsylvanienne 07-17-2014 04:49 PM
This information about your Fog Farming is a wonderful article. My child was in a Gifted and Talented Science course the past year where they studied sustainability and water resources... I am very excited to share this article with him, since in the course of his study we never saw mention of this type of farming method, even though we did find plentiful information about the water problems California faces. Thank you for a fine article! I suggest expanding the META descriptions and keywords for this page to make search engines better point to this page for keywords about water shortage, drought, California water, etc.
Elaine 06-02-2013 01:58 PM
Funny how we spinners all gravitated to this page. Hey, Sustainable Seeds! You sell some wonderful heirloom flax seeds, please consider adding some information about growing these plants for spinnable fiber! There is a fair amount of processing involved, but we fiber heads are a committed lot!
Catz in Hawaii 07-21-2012 01:27 AM
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?
Sarah Robicheaux 03-31-2012 07:17 PM
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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