Someone remarked to me yesterday that the fruit trees in the food forests here at the farm must require an extensive irrigation system. But, in fact, the fruit trees in the food forest here have to survive on rainwater alone, as I only have enough water for the vegetables and herbs.
I’ve stated before that this is a cool temperate environment, but summers here can regularly mean temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and sometimes beyond this. Some years the summer rainfall fails and it is then a long slow nervous wait until Autumn arrives. Storing water in the ground in these conditions is good practice as it reduces loss from evaporation.
It is also almost impossible to have a dam at this location because the volcanic loam soil is just too well drained. This has meant that I have had to focus on water harvesting techniques and feeding the soil instead.
Feeding the soil is the creation of topsoil using various methods plus adding materials that are available to you. The reason that it is important here is because healthy, deep and diverse topsoil not only provides food for the plants, but it is also a crucial step in storing water in the soil.
There are plenty of articles on this website, not to mention the books and/or DVDs which go into soil in more detail than I can ever provide. However, I can provide on the ground examples of the various techniques and materials and follow their progress. So, I’ve put to together a fun video providing a virtual tour of some of the soil food systems here. I hope you enjoy the tour.