Dry farming

April 3, 2015

from the Sonoma County Gazette

 

No, this is not an April Fool's prank! This really is a type of farming in semi-arid areas where there is no irrigation. Farmers plant drought-resistant crops or plant seeds very deep in the ground as a moisture enhancing technique. Or keep the surface around plants mulched to help delay moisture evaporation.

 

Grapes, olives, tomatoes, potatoes, pears, watermelons, pumpkins, apricots, and various grains are successfully grown in California using this technique. The produce farmed this way has more concentrated flavor and is also sweeter!

 

With drought conditions worsening, more California farmers are turning to dry farming techniques. As water will be less abundant in the future, this can be a very viable farming practice.

 

An Early Girl tomato at Happy Boy Farms near Santa Cruz, California

 

 

So I'm thinking that we urban gardeners can practice this same technique, right?  We already hardly water plants in our garden anymore, and they are doing quite well, probably in part because most are older shrubs that have well established roots and tap roots going way deep into the ground. So why not try this with vegetables? I'm going to try it this year with tomatoes.

 

Read more about dry farming practices:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/08/23/214884366/to-grow-sweeter-produce-california-farmers-turn-off-the-water

 

http://agwaterstewards.org/index.php/practices/dry_farming/

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/06/dry_farming_returns_to_drought_stricken_california.html

 

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