Keep in mind, this thermometer is not in direct sunlight!
Today is going to break more heat records across Western Washington. We’re hunkered inside to beat the heat as a brutal sun beats down on what was once a temperate rainforest, but is already beginning her climate transition. Last summer’s drought brought on stress to our hemlock trees. These are now beginning to die off, starting with the lower branches, and working up the tree. Once 50% of the green is dead, the tree is lost. If less than half stays, the tree will bounce back. Most of our hemlocks at Leafhopper Farm are moving towards more then half dead, and there will be a few more years of waiting, before all mother nature’s change shows her full impact.
For the farm, it means planning a timber harvest in the next few years. This puts our timber framing projects into a higher place of priority. It also invites planning of future forest-scapes on the land. How will the dry seasons dictate what evolving species should replace drought killed natives to avoid future die off? Another local land owner friend told me we’ll be fruit growers. I’m alright with that, but also concerned about our rainforests.
Western Washington is a temperate environment. We just had our wettest winter on record, but it’s not helping the trees in time. Imagine a dried up desert receiving a deluge; most of the water runs off. Our reservoirs are full, but rivers did not crest with spring melt, and the water temperatures are already climbing, putting our young salmon at risk in the inland tributaries.
In April, when our last 90 degree day hit, along with a string of 80s, most of my germinating seed was terminated by the heat. Watering happens daily now to keep young plants alive through their seedling stage. It worries me that I’m already using more water then this time last spring. Our well held in the last summer drought, but a second year of stress will not help much in retaining our water table. Weiss Creek is also already low, with the possibility of loosing flow before the end of another scorching summer.
On the plus side, we’re planning for this change. Cisterns are the solution, with winter rain catchment to solve summertime drought conditions. Hotter climate means more plant varieties and broader crop possibilities. Leafhopper Farm is flexible, and invested in diversity to feed the growing need for climate extremes. Planning and building of infrastructure achieves maximum adaptable capabilities for the farm. Water is where is all starts, and water has been the central focus of our permaculture plan.
A 23,000 gallon, monster ferrocement tank, will be constructed in the next few years. This reservoir will keep the plants watered and food forest thriving through our worsening summer drought and hold security in an unstable future. Hey, maybe tomatoes and eggplant will be possible in the not too distant future. Maybe even okra will have a chance to thrive.