The Permaculture Podcast

    Episode 1429: Strategies for Adapting to a Warmer and More Arid Climate (Permabyte)


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    Thank you to Hal for asking about how to handle changing climate, especially for more arid regions. Living in Pennsylvania I don’t have this issue at the moment, as the state is rather water rich.  Looking at the possible changes that can come I do have some strategies in place for responding to this potential reality.  Some of the problems that I can see where I am is the climate becoming warmer and drier, which leads to these general strategies.

    • Choosing plants adapted to a wide range of climate conditions.
    • Using water collection techniques like mulching or zai (depression) planting.
    • Capturing water in the soil.
    • Building soil.

    There are some general strategies that I use here, which continue to be experiments while the area is wet to see if I can establish plants with these techniques under these conditions. To expand this conversation I’ve reached out to several experts to see if they will join me to cover these topics, their specialties, in more depth.

    How are you designing with climate change in mind? I’d love to hear from you.

    Phone: 717-827-6266
    Twitter: @permaculturecst

    The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann
    P.O. Box 16
    Dauphin, PA 17018

    (Episode: 2014March0331)

    1 Comment

    1. Michael CommonsMichael Commons
      April 22, 2014    

      Dear Scott,

      Interesting to listen to your question regarding a future of different climatic conditions and possible ways to prepare to adapt. My conditions in Thailand experience a mixture of flooding and dry periods. It sounds like you have flooding and high moisture issues now but are also concerned about a dryer future. Do you know about “chinampas”? Thai agriculture follows the same practice under the name “yoke rong” Normally used in quite wet areas that would be at least periodically wetlands, we use similar fluxes between raised beds and lower canals. As roots need both moisture and air, and few plants can survive flooding for more than a day or two, these long raised beds can provide safe haven and breathing room for fruit tree roots or vegetable beds. The lower interspaced areas (canals) may be full on canals will water all of the time or in my case, they only act as canals when we really have heavy rains.

      Now you can consider your water situation and design the flow more of less to contour. Completely on contour- like a swale, will not work for area like mine where a heavy rain can drop 6 inches and thus you have a dam behind the swale. (I guess unless your island is high enough) In any case, my design is to trap moisture when it is dry and then allow the heavy rain that would over flood to flow off with the canal system and into my rainwater capture pond. (stored for the dry season and a habitat for fish and water plants)

      While you can adjust with the level of the slope, weeds and specific plants like vetiver grass effectively develop a sort of check dam, which is what I like. Slowing the water flow to sink it but allowing the flow when there is a lot of water.

      Darren Doherty, who I took my PDC with many years back said this system (in the original context) is the most productive system per area of land as you have the maximum edge effect and have this flux from wet areas to dry areas. In the traditional sense as in Thai and Aztec culture, you just have a dipper to pour water on your crops taken from the canal in the dry season. The canal has fish and water plants (like lotus and water lilies that are good eating) The border may have edible bracken (fiddleheads). Boats can easily be used to harvest and move produce.

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