Drought / flood cycles - power outages - fruit growing

Consider in 2018 here in Kansas we saw droughts the likes of which i had not seen in my lifetime at my location. California reservoirs are now dangerously low on water. It’s not just California its much of the southwest. That will impact electricity since the reservoirs generate hydro electric power in California. Texas saw electric failures recently this year. We have observed strange weather and other events for years now. In addition there have been other events and strange wildlife observations. From a fruit and vegetable growers perspective im concerned with planning my fruit and other food production. Im Considering using electric timers to water but if i do i will use an off grid system for that purpose. Considering installing cisterns, ponds wells in the event they become needed. These droughts will make us even more dependant on our own food supply. There is much more to be said on this topic. Please lets not turn this into a discussion on anything other than the intended purpose. This discussion will focus on how these strange weather events are impacting our current gardening and fruit growing. Has anyone experienced failure of your irrigation system or having challeges with water yet? Anyone else considering intentionally leaving your power and irrigation system intentionally offline? I realize the convenience of remotely managing your system but that also creates a security vulnerability. Many systems such as this one Solar-powered system extracts drinkable water from “dry” air | MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology are now available. Many modern systems are very expensive but as they become more widely produced will get cheaper. Here is an example of a system that extracts water from air https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S2Cq_TpNXoQ . These systems are only capable of extracting in a dry climate around 5 liters per day. It’s worth noting some locations do not allow people to catch rainwater run off but i have seen no specific laws on extracting water from air. If this seems a bit like the water farms in the desert from the original movie star wars i think its likely those scenes may have been what inspired such devices Moisture farm | Wookieepedia | Fandom . Dune was another movie dealing with this water problem on a dryer planet. Surviving Arrakis


I’m in Southern Ontario, so am buffered from a bunch of things but we are seeing more weather swings.
Drought periods are much more common so I keep adding more rain collection barrels.
Prices are up right now so even adding an old garbage can to catch the overflow helps a bit. (I pull from them first to avoid mosquito breeding)
It’s a small enough garden that I can manually water.

Our power grid is pretty safe, so I still do more freezing than I probably should. I working on getting as many shelf stable options for processing as I can.

Otherwise, main thing is trying to figure out ways to manage the new weather swings and pests. I think I’m going to try and go big on nematodes and hope that, dormancy sprays and manual removal will reduce our losses since most spray options aren’t available here.
I’ll keep looking for new plants and varieties that can handle the changing conditions.


Im in Pacific NW and facing drought too. I made some changes this year that have been helpful so far.

For squashes, I laid down black plastic mulch. The plants were planted in holes cut in the plastic. I pour water in those holes when needed, a gallon about every other day per group. I wondered if the plastic would overheat the plants but they are growing like gangbusters. Even during 115F weather they were OK. I did water on those days. Some have wood chips on top of the black plastic. The leaves do shade the plastic too.

For sauce tomatoes I put down brown paper mulch to prevent disease and weeds but also conserve moisture. Those are doing very well. The brown paper is old grocery bags which I will compost this fall.

For indeterminate tomatoes I have a drip irrigation system. So far, so good.

In the fall I collect neighbors’ leaves and spread them under the fruit trees. That increases the humus and reduces water needs. They last until the next winter. Fig trees are very drought tolerant here. Grapes seem to be also.

I collect water in barrels too. Around here they sell food manufacturing containers that are cubes about 4 feet per side. They hold a lot of water. I have those and 50 gallon food grade barrels too from Craigs list.

I wonder if Surround will help two ways - reflect the sunlight to prevent burning, plus reduce some pests.


Kansas by the way has excess water this year but as we all know that can change quickly.

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I agree! We need more locally based food and water supply. It will benefit everyone both in the good times as well as in the event of weird events or hard times. I am working for better independent water, i put a solar water well in my pasture for the cows and i want to make a cistern in the hill that the well pumps full with either solar or wind or both would be best for backup, and then it can gravity flow down to the orchard and garden. Also maybe a tank up on posts. :slight_smile:
And yeah I plan to gutter the barn and house to a few 2000+ gallon tanks to have more water. Cant have too much water ! (Controlled water that is lol)

In my location we are way behind on rain, average rain in Feb-April but only about 1" in may and 1" in june compared to the average of 3.5 to 4".
My water system needs improvement for sure.

For the garden, by the house, we have a big garden, like 250 tomatoes, 150 pepper, lots of corn, snap beans, etc, a whole area of young seedling fruit trees, I use the house pressure and the economy commercial drip tape. I have been watering like its august for a month+. Drip tape is very nice and saves water.


There are ways you can make your soil more drought resilient.

I have rocks and gravel and I consider myself lucky. It is a pain in the neck to dig anything but once dug you can build up a nice chunk of soil to support life. This is what mine looks like:

The nice thing about sandy soil is that it is a whole lot easier to create a localize environment without the nigh mare of draining issues that come with heavy clay. Cranking up organic material creates a more symbiotic environment for biota that improve their host’s access to nutrients, produce plant-growth regulators, and to the point of this thread improve environmental stress tolerance such as drought. Highly organic soils also absorb water better, distribute it more widely, and retain said humidity longer.

As possible I would consider building up more organic-laden soils, amend with vermiculite for the water retention qualities. Heavy mulch to slow down evaporation, look at watering methods that put the water directly under the soil to avoid runnof and evaporation, and use water harvesting methods as feasible.