I Heart Dryland
After three cold, wet springs in a row, we finally are getting a more “normal” spring, as in a little drier. My peasant knowledge tells me that it was time to plant the potatoes. A fancier term might be phenology, but whatever you call it, I know when I see smartweed germinating in my soil, I better get some of my dryland crops in the ground. For the most part, our gardens are dryland (no irrigation) so getting a good start when there is a chance of rain makes a great deal of difference. Jane’s winter carrots are sown a few weeks early, so that is one job to cross off my list.
Mostly though the potato planting was the push during this last bout of dry weather. We planted early and late maturing varieties at the same time – planting is done, and harvest will be staggered.
Why dryland? I think peak water is a problem that most folks don’t even care to think about, until that last drop comes out of the tap or the well pump quits working. Having our own water system makes us a little skittish about dry times, our spring and surrounding watershed are very real things. Summers here are dry, and many times it takes six inches of rainfall to recharge the spring. Add in a dry fall, and it may be November before the spring is back up to par.
Frankly, dryland gardening is easier in many ways. I don’t have to babysit irrigation, which is nice, I get enough of that chore with the greenhouse where there is no choice but to irrigate. Instead wide row spacing, and clean cultivation are my tools of choice. It’s one gardening tradition I am glad I learned. I could irrigate, but if I don’t need to, why do it? I often wonder about the intensive close planted gardens that will not do well without irrigation as opposed to more extensive plantings and no irrigation. I have no idea which is better really, I will suppose it depends on your situation and gardening space. We are a no frills farmstead anyway so dryland goes marries well with that mindset.
So what do think? Are the old dryland ways a good thing to be thinking about? Or just an old method that should be filed away for historical reference?