BC Drought Map link
What can you do to prepare for droughts? Actually it is fairly simple but planning starts now. You need to prepare by supercharging your landscape, supercharging your soils, choosing vegetation that is drought tolerant, and having a water supply that can fill in the gaps when watering restrictions otherwise say “you can’t water your gardens!”
Sechelt experienced extreme restrictions in the summer of 2015 when even irrigation for agriculture was restricted. Imagine not being able to support the crops you’ve planted?
At Eco-Sense we have prepared for drought in many ways:
Our cisterns collect rain in the winter, but in the summer we trickle charge them every evening to ensure we have at least 4000 gallons stored at any time in the drought. This becomes our irrigation source, as well we are always assured of an emergency water supply in case of fire or emergency potable source for other natural disasters – serves three purposes (actually is has a fourth… as the water trickle charges the cisterns, it runs through the floors of the house and provides air conditioning in the summer)!
We have spent the past several years building soil carbon. What does soil carbon have to do with drought proofing and water storage you ask? For every 1% increase in soil carbon per acre there is an additional 56,000 gallons of water that can be stored in the soil. This supports plants longer through into the drought before requiring outside irrigation inputs. See ISIRC World Soil Information
Mulch decreases evaporation from the soils understandably, by keeping the soils cool and trapping humidity. Mulch also builds that carbon we so desperately desire, as well as promotes fungi which are amazing sponges, and promotes the increase of organisms (microbes, worms, bacteria) which are all little packets of water.
Wood Chip Mulch
Alder chip mulch
Composted Leaf & Twig Mulch
Pumice/Lava Rock mulch
50/50 mix Mulch
Rather than rely on annual vegetables that require tilled weed free soils (like lettuce) we rely on plants that develop strong root systems and provide food in conditions that are better equipped for drought. Plants like French sorrel, perennial leek, good king henry, perennial arugula, and brassicas that we never pull out of the ground (our broccoli, cabbage, kale and brussel sprouts are 4-5 years old).
Sweet chestnuts for flour, Mulberry trees for salad greens and berries, Yellowhorn for seeds, grapes, olives, apples, pears, plumbs, figs, currants, oca, yacon, fuzzy kiwis, hardy kiwis, hazelnuts walnuts, hosta… and the list goes on. We combine several hundred plants to create a self sustaining landscape that is beautiful and abundant, that is drought tolerant. Plants are intermixed to mimic the layers of a conventional forest, where they work together to share resources – Nitrogen fixing plants that mycorhizzae harvest and share subsurface with trees and shrubs, drought tolerant dynamic accumulators that create copius quantities of mulch harvested in the heat of summer and used to supprt all the life in the soil. Connecting the drops by connecting the dots by understanding the integrated systems in the soil.