Cam Flaherty here. Not too many growing tips in this shoulder gardening season (okay, a little north of my farm they call it Mud Season), so I’m soliciting some from you. My author, Edith, just got back from a mystery fan conference in California, Left Coast Crime. The west is hurting bad for rain, so let’s talk xeriscaping and planting local varieties.
It makes sense to plant perennials that suit the soil and climate where you live. In many parts of California, that’s desert, so people turn their lawns into cactus gardens. If rain falls, stuff blooms. If it doesn’t, plants with sturdy roots go dormant and wait a year or two for more rain. Unfortunately, many farmers with nut-tree plantations or other non-desert crops are really hurting for water. The Sierra have almost no snow pack to melt for irrigation and the land is parched.
Permaculture, which takes sustainability to a new level, stresses not only native plantings but permanent contouring of the land to manage water in both abundance and scarcity, and interplantings of perennial trees and crops. A great organization in Puerto Rico, Plenitud Eco-Educational Initiatives, is devoted to teaching people young and old how to be long-term guardians of our earth.
In New England, some landscapers focus on planting only local shrubs and trees, and try to eradicate imported invasive species.
What’s your favorite sustainable method? Do you xeriscape? How have you dealt with too much rain, or too little?
Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods mystery series from Kensington Publishing, in which geek-turned-organic farmer Cam Flaherty grows produce even in the winter for members of the Locavore club, but also has to solve more than one case of locally sourced murder.