Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by SueinWA, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    The old Native Americans of the arid Southwest planted their crops in shallow basins, 4-6" (10-15cm) deep, which would hold precious water so it wouldn't run off. They also created small earthworks that guided any available rainfall into those basins.

    I was wondering if any of you Down Under people had experimented with anything like this with vegetables, since many of your conditions closely resemble the conditions in our most arid parts?

    I did two small experiments this year, and plan on extending it next year, as my results were very promising. While we do get a lot of rain much of the year, our summers tend to be devoid of much (if any) rainfall. My soil is sandy and acidic.

    I just raked up the center of a 4' (1.3m) diameter circle and formed the loose soil into a ring around the edge, and dumped several buckets of horse manure inside and stirred it up a bit. Then I planted six butternut squashes inside the ring, and mulched, but not heavily. I did the same in a smaller ring and planted three tomato plants, also with manure and a much thicker straw mulch.

    I had planted a single row of tomatoes with their own small basins, mulched with straw, but they did not do nearly as well as the three in the communal basin.

    This was very much a last-minute idea when I was planting, so I am thinking that some prior preparations, like starting this fall, would increase the likelihood of even more success.

    Sue
     
  2. Luisa

    Luisa Junior Member

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    No we don't do that, we are looking at raised beds for our veggies, but we do plant tree seedlings in depression.
    Maybe others do?

    Same deal, better to pool the water and let it have a chance to soak in round the roots.

    We are in semi-arid subtropics with monsoonal summer rains, although last few years we have had some winter rains too.

    Have you looked at the dryland farming site which talks about wider spacings where there's no irrigation and lets the plants find their own water? I haven't the link here.
     
  3. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    I have found that putting a small lip (2") around the edges of beds can help catch rainfall and reduce watering needs. I use the double dig method so i do this with soil, when i'm shaping the bed after the double dig. I make a flat top and then pull some of the soil to the edges. The downside is that it means less planting area.
    I also plant trees in depressions.

    I'v tried this method when gardening in dryer areas:
    remove the topsoil,
    remove a spades deapth of subsoil (it was clay)
    fork over the bottom of the trench
    put back topsoil with added compost etc..
    The subsoil which was removed is then used to make a path either side to slope slightly towards the garden.

    The results were pretty good although i also used heavy mulch and shade net when the temporature reached above 40 C.
    If the path area is equivelent to the garden area then this method can double the rainfall reaching the garden.
    It was a real pain stooping over a sunk bed to harvest,plant and work it since i am used to raised beds which make everything a convenient height..
    IG
     
  4. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    g'day sue,

    for me it would depend on the situation:

    on the property we had the soil was sandy loam so very well drained so when we planted out frut trees we planted them in a lower planting position that is creating a well around the trees, and then we directed water flow to those plantings, the thinking was we also ahd to be aware as the soil improved through mulching etc.,. that the trees might become water logged in a very wet season, hasn't ahppened to date.

    currently here we have heavy clay sets like cement when dry (all modern developments have been topped up with junk soil they call "acid sulphate" that is the soil has had various waste bi-products added to it, they first take away the clean top soil up to 1 meter then bring in this stuff, gives them somewhere to dispose of indutrial waste hey), but saturates and drains poorly, so we had to plant our fruit trees in a raised position that is around 1/2 the root ball at planting was above the natural soil level, so we created a mound but still had a shallow well around the trees so water didn't shed when it rains. very hard to get it right as our rainy season are so varibale, if they were going got be good rain all the time each season we would have planted them higher, so you try for a happy medium. we also needed the raised mound so we could promote a better medium for the feeder roots.

    len
     
  5. Warm Earth

    Warm Earth Junior Member

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    Do you know what crops the Native Americans planted in the basins Sue? Hardly any vegetables can stand being waterlogged for long (ask me how I lost an entire potato crop back in July when an unexpected 140 mm fell). As Len said, it would depend on the soil. On my block we have 10-15 cm of top soil (if you'd call it that) on top of hard clay. The orchard rows are raised up 60 cm to cope with the drainage problem and the vegie beds are up 40-45 cm. Where we used to live was very sandy - you could put as much water in as you liked and it disappeared without a trace (one reason why we moved from there). I've become partial to eating taro leaves in summer and have planted a forest of it in a basin at the dam overflow, because it likes being permanently moist and can go underwater with no ill effects. I'm sure the common garden mint would love it down there too and go feral, but I'm not letting it out of its pot! People over in Western Australia with sandy soils might like to comment on growing in basins.
     
  6. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    g'day warm earth,

    yep lost our crop of spuds to the same rain hey, and these are reasonably well drained.

    len
     
  7. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    148 mls of rain.......im not surprised you lost your veges thats allmost 6 inches old scale i hellalot of water in anyones language..


    I gotta laugh as to why people are so intent on raised beds for everything including trees...in my opinion and having been proven,i never raise my bed sand concrete or clay lol...

    in dry old aussie i cant get enough water onto my plants etc..let alone build little drains to take excess water away.....i know that say waterlogging can kill..

    i have to say that sues ways of doing things is sound advice,and if done carefully and allowing for seasonal fluctuations should be encouraged,Just bout all books/instructions for growing in oz reccomend raised beds.....
    maybe for some but not me..

    in depressions water collects and filters thru,much like swales do...established plants or trees can probly handly the odd rain burst...not young during first year of growth tho...Its a bit like horses for courses really.diferent plants to diferent climatesdifferent seasons...

    most trees shrubs etc by end of a years growth should be able to handle normal growing condions far better,and better every year after.......

    Growing veges in dips is great idea for those juicy vegies,pumpkin,water melons etc etc ..just dont make the depressions so depressed....

    not surprised potatoes died after 6 inches of rain,and potatoes being under ground/soil wouldnt help it either even Noah couldna saved em..

    Of course sometimes raised beds will be the only option if planting alongside waterways....but question was about vegies.....

    I also believe that raised beds are more desinged for seadling planted,tree crops etc...in my opinion if grown naturally from seed they may just handle those wet winters just like trees were desinged to do all those millions years ago.......

    Oh by the way my ground is rocks and clay..i so lucky to have both :Hangman:

    I could understand raised bed 30 yrs ago here in Oz............ but then we were getting twice as much rain in those days.......

    Oh how things have changed so much in 30,40 and longer years??????/

    Tezza
    YES we need more Moderators and Admin ....... :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
     
  8. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    I plant vegetables in mounds and water in the "depressions" between the mounds.

    This encourages strong root systems as the plants look a little further for their daily drink.
     
  9. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    Horses for courses.

    Raised garden beds, particularly, those brick lined wonder beds are marvellous. They have a dozen attributes like 'weed stopping'.... wonderful.

    Point is do what you can, do what works in your situation. I would 'recommend' raised beds to anyone to anyone who is building on a top-soil scalped house block...... except... if it is sloping.

    I like 'depressions', I also used raised strategies. It depends on plant, lifetime of plant and plant requirements. For example, I always start corn in a hole/depression/trench it makes it easy to direct the water in [or out] and they will develop aerial roots and I back fill them as they grow. Same thing with potatoes.

    There is not a ubiquitous strategy for what should be anyone's individual situation. In my vegie garden I use 'raised beds', a shovel depth and put mulch on the paths and use micro irrigation. When the 'wet season' hits I no longer irrigate and my 'paths' beccome compost beds for the next crop. I remove any mulch from around plants and compost it. I am not prepared to say that this is the 'golden rule', I dont live where you do.

    Gardening/permaculture should be about working with existing factors and not 'existing fashion'. It really only has to work for you. I would love brick-edged raised garden beds but it would make my 'organic/permie' garden cost about $50 per sq foot. I was hoping to build a new house for about that.

    BTW, time and again I have grown tomatoes as per 'the rules'. I have always had my best successes with something like 'sue's' setup. A conglomeration of self protecting, unpruned or unregulated, vines.

    cheers,

    ho-hum
     
  10. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    Testing my pic addition my gardenPicture 33.jpg[/attachment:3u7hkh1x] Mullberry trees just getting new leaves
     
  11. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    tezza,

    not so much a joke up our way we a between say the devil and the deep blue sea, if we plant for the absolute dry say like you might in WA then if we get a 1/2way decent wet season all the plants would die, so we sort of have to calculate an each way bet,and hope it all works which for the main it does, for us with those very wet periods we/ve had our raised gardens and fruit trees did well just means in the long dry periods we may have to give them a little more of our own moisture. we plant and biuld agrdesn along the contours so that any light medium run off is contained to some degree before it exits the property, none of which can be latered willy nilly to suit rain periods.

    len
     
  12. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Re: Does anyone plant veggies in depressions?

    Len...

    like i said it horses for courses..seams like everyones getting muck about seasons these days.....

    as you say all gardens are different and conditions vary greatly season to season..

    EXPERIENCE often dictates a change in ideas,some work others dont..

    Thats life :lol:

    Tezza..
     

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