Garden Angel


Santa Rosa | 4,000 sq. ft. Permaculture Homestead

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Permaculture keyhole garden & food forest style mostly in back with lots of artichokes and fruit; strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, French prunes, satsuma mandarin, kumquat, Fuyu persimmons, 4 types of apple, Asian pears, peaches, figs, Pineapple guavas, blueberries, plums Yacon, edible canna, edible flowers, lots of herbs medicinal & culinary; lemon balm, peppermint, thyme, oregano, sage, lavender, feverfew, mugwort, rosemary, parsley, mullien , lemongrass, fennel, coriander, garlic. Flowers are all throughout the garden with lots blooming April and May. Also large 100 year old oak with Japanese maple native planting at the south east corner…….drought tolerant plants with some drip, some without irrigation and heavy mulching. Washing machine to grey water.

I am a permaculture designer (OAEC) and teacher (Ocean Song) also a certified master gardener 1989. I am the homeowner and designer (Garden Angel). I began creating the garden in the mid 90’s. I read about permaculture and decided to create keyhole garden area. This was very successful and lead me to study permaculture in 2003. The garden was created working though the context of time as trained in permaculture. I have lots of pictures of the evolution of the garden.

Dealing with Drought for Vegetables, Fruit Trees, and Berries

Irrigation water is critical to the economic performance of most of the specialty food crop plants we grow in Sonoma County. In our dry summer climate, maximum productivity can only be achieved with Rootssupplemental irrigation. Without irrigation we would not even consider growing most vegetables, fruit trees, or berries. Even the crops we can grow without irrigation like apples, plums, potatoes, Christmas trees, or tomatoes need to have some water that is provided by winter rains and stored in the soil. Sonoma County usually receives about 25 to 50 inches of rainfall in a normal year – differing amounts depending on distance from the ocean, elevation, mountain shadows and weather patterns. Only a small fraction of that, however, is stored in the soil and made available to plants in the spring when growth starts. Most of it runs off. Even less moisture is available to plants in a drought, because the ground’s reserve is depleted by sunny winter days and insufficient replenishment. Making the most of what we have requires water-wise strategies such as: saving as much soil moisture as possible, increasing the organic matter in the soil, irrigating responsibly, not wasting water, and if possible, by only growing crops during the times of year when sufficient water is available.

  • Water in the soil: One of soil’s functions is to serve as a water-holding reservoir. Each soil type – sand, loam and clay – has a different water-holding capacity. Soil moisture conservation practices that maintain as much soil moisture as possible for the food crops being grown is the first step to making the most of what is available from winter rains.
  • Save as much soil moisture as possible: The most important thing to do is to keep the weeds from stealing the water.
  • How much water do plants use? The amount of water plants use is primarily influenced by temperature, i.e., how hot it is for how long. The rate at which plants use water is known as the evapotranspiration rate (ET). ET refers to how much water is lost from evaporation at the soil surface and from transpiration which is water vapor lost from leaf surfaces.
  • Irrigating efficiently: Putting in a drip system can increase irrigation efficiency by about 20% because it reduces evaporative losses when sprinklers spray water into the air. Converting daily ET rates in inches to gallons for timing drip irrigation requires an area factor, which could be the size of the trees, or the dimensions of a vegetable or berry bed.

This information is provided by Paul Vossen, US Cooperative Extension Advisor Sonoma & Marin Counties. For more on dealing with drought for vegetables, fruit trees, and berries please visit University of California Cooperative Extension Sonoma County by click HERE.