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Old 05-25-2019, 08:32 PM
Jerry D Young's Avatar
Jerry D Young Jerry D Young is offline

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Figure out how much water you actually need.

Take the square footage of your growing area. If the local average rainfall is enough that you would not normally require irrigation, you need about double that square footage of collection area to have enough water to cover a single drought year, plus a means to store that much water, or at least the major portion of it. All is better.

If, on the other hand, you do not normally get enough rain to grow a garden naturally during a 'normal' year, you will need to increase the collection and storage areas significantly. Even having double the amount needed for one year will only get you through a second year of drought. Maybe. It would be better to have at least three full years of current no-rainfall-at-all amounts of water stored.

When you can replenish the storage, remember that a normal year of rainfall will not catch you up. It will only maintain the status quo. You need double the normal rainfall to catch you up one year at a time. And in today's climactic uncertainties, getting three years of double the normal amount of rain without it being flooding type rains where you lose as much as you collect, is going to be highly problematic.

The only ways to get around that are pumping from on-site sources, bringing water in, or increasing capture area to three or four times that required for a single year in normal rainfall years. And significantly more would be better.

It does not all have to be permanent installations. Nor does it all have to come from rainfall if you also get snow. You do need to have a significant amount of it installed and ready to collect anything that comes down whether you are there or not. And the rest needs to be very easy nd quick to deploy in case you do not have much warning. It would pay to have a good weather station yourself and a good weather radio and back up, too, to make sure you know when precipitation is possible.

Remember that rain does not always 'come in', either. Sometimes it simply forms right over you, if you happen to be where air masses are coming together. You might not get any warning.

Going back to the beginning... How many square feet of growing space do you have now? How many do you plan to add in the next few years? What is your average yearly precipitation in inches of rain equivalent? What is the current square footage of collection area you have? How much precipitation does the growing area need based on what you are growing and plan to grow? How much additional precipitation do your crops need in high heat/low humidity conditions over normal requirements? Are you in a drought condition now? What is your current precipitation collection storage capability in gallons?

What are your normal summer growing season temperatures? What have the extreme summer growing season temperatures in the past been? If they have been in the low 90℉ and above range do you already have shade cloth and supports for your entire growing area? Do you already have a cooling mist system installed for your entire growing area? Have you allocated enough water collection and storage to source the misting system?

Water for growing food and raising stock is just like the recommendations for drinking water for humans. A gallon a day per person is nowhere near adequate for long term. It is not even good for short term. Five times that is barely getting started to having enough for humans.

When you start talking about the weather and growing a garden, all bets are off. Whatever an 'expert' has told you that you will need, you can be sure you will need a good three or four times that amount, and more. Because they do not think like a prepper and take into account worst-case scenarios. They thing in terms of 'normals' and averages'. 'Normal' and 'average' do not take into account the numbers that go into creating 'normal' and 'average'. Those numbers can and are almost always way higher and way lower than what the 'normal' and 'average' number is. So, if you have a string of those lowers on one hand, and highers on the other hand, you could wind up with a sunbaked set of raised beds. Or a flooded out set because you did not have adequate drainage installed because... "Well, we haven't had those kinds for rain in years!"

If you would like help with the actual working numbers let me know. I can do a spreadsheet that makes it much easier if you want.

Just my opinion.
Jerry D Young
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