The Wet Northwest Gardening/Livestock...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Unregistered-1427815803, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. Hi,

    I have some questions for homesteaders in the wettest parts of the Northwest. These questions would be for people in any of the following counties and any other areas getting 80+ inches of rain a year:

    Clackamus, Clatsop, Curry, Hood River, Licoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Tollamook

    Chelan, Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King, Kittas, Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, Mason, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Wahkiakum

    Being that you are located within temperate rainforest I know that trees grow like they are on steroids and you do not have to worry about forest fires or drought. What I would like to know is how well do your gardens grow? You must have mold and fungus problems, how do you deal with them? What are the pros and cons of gardening in these soppy conditions? The next thing I would like to know about is how dose your livestock cope (worms, hoof rot, etc.)? What breeds of livestock have you found that thrive in these conditions? What are the pros and cons of owning livestock in the wet Northwest?

  2. seraphima

    seraphima Active Member

    Feb 13, 2004
    Dear John,

    Even though I live in the temperate rainforest of Alaska (75 inches of rain a year) all the wet areas in the Northwest have one thing in common: SLUGS.

    So much rain tends to make soil acidic and nutrients wash out quickly.

  3. K. Sanderson

    K. Sanderson Active Member

    Mar 25, 2004
    Oregon (Klamath Falls)
    Hi, John, I was born in Florence, Oregon, right on the coast -- and in western Lane County, which you missed on your list.

    The interesting thing about the weather in this part of the country is that it mostly only rains in the winter (it's called a 'Mediteranean Climate"). Summers, especially after early July, are *very* dry, to the point that logging operations will be required to operate only at night when the relative humidity is higher and sparks from their equipment are less likely to start a forest fire. It can get so bad that logging has to be shut down altogether. Gardens must be watered, or there is a site that talks about drought gardening techniques specifically for Western Oregon. Slugs are a problem, easily dealt with by adding a few ducks to your place. Parasites might be a problem if your property is on low ground that stays wet, but if you are on well-drained ground, they won't be any worse here than any place else. In winter, some animals need shelter from the rain (it *does* rain a lot in the winter), particularly chickens and goats. Some breeds of sheep will need shelter, others are pretty hardy. Romney's seem to be a popular breed on the West Coast for their hardiness in wet climates. Cattle and horses just need a windbreak. They may or may not bother to use a shed even if it's provided. I have seen mold, fungus, and disease problems on plants that were probably caused by the constant wet of winter. Some of those are treatable/preventable, and some can be avoided by wise choice of varieties. The Ag. Extension agents are really good sources for lists of suitable varieties for their area. The biggest mold problems will be in your house. We always lived in drafty older houses, but if you have a newer house that's fairly tight, you could try a dehumidifier. Otherwise, in the winter it is a good idea to leave closet doors open, and generally make sure air circulates through all parts of the house, so things dry out and mold doesn't have a chance to start growing. A wood stove helps, too, though in Oregon there are some severe restrictions on the kinds of wood stoves that can be used, due to the air pollution problems.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

    May 9, 2002
    :) Hi from Cottage Grove! LOL Kathleen is right on about your County Extension Service. They are just great up here! On Sat morning there's a three hour program on radio, call-in show..and you talk to master gardeners. Great source of learning!

    People enjoy RFD-TV too. LOL

    I see just about all the popular breeds of stock here in the Willamette Valley. Everything in cattle from Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Angus, Brahmas, to Highland, Longhorns and even Yaks! LOL Boer Goats are popular and there are several breeds of sheep, Barbary and Dorsets are seen a lot.

    Of course with this mild climate horses abound. All breeds. If you keep them up out of the mud and take care of their feet they will do great.

    Waterfowl really thrive here but it does take some effort to keep other poultry dry.

    Have fun....LQ
  5. snoozy

    snoozy Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Kitsap Co, WA
    Kitsap Co WA chiming in here. Ducks, ducks and more ducks. Ducks love's a match made in heaven. Somebody has a couple of camels down the road, so it can't really be as hard to have animals here as you think.

    It's really not THAT wet -- we really don't live in a "temperate rainforest", as you put it. Clallam County is, but not the rest of the WA counties you have listed. Anything that would be happy in Scotland or Ireland would be thrilled to live here -- thrilled because we rarely get snow in the Maritime NW, except at higher elevations.

    Well, algae does grow on cars here. Really! (But only on the north side...)
  6. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

    May 11, 2002
    Now in Virginia
    Have even had moss grow on my sheeps wool some years. In the winter you have automatic refilling water tanks. :D

    You do have slugs to deal with and some years those nasty icky Tent Catapillers..yuk!! But over all, compaired with other places in the country I have lived, there is not much in the way of bugs.
    What I found really wonderful too is, there are no Poisonous snakes on this side of the state.

    But the Clime like Snoozy said is like Ireland and parts of Scotland. I love it, but it can take some getting used to if you are moving from areas that see little rain.
    Plants that do well over there will do well here. Super warm Clime Veggies, do need extra help. But the Cool weather crops do wonderfully.

    All the animals I have had, have done well here.

    Last summer was really dry and it looks like this summer will be too. Have not had any problems so far with our well.

    And the views,, when there is no clouds that is.. are outstanding!!
  7. I'm in Columbia County, Oregon which is right across from Cowlitz County in Washington. Don't be misleading about the rain, it does rain, but during the summer months it's very nice and sunny. I live smack dab in the middle of an old growth forest and last year on July 3rd it was posted for no fires, at any time. We also couldn't run chainsaws after 1 pm because of the risk of starting fires.

    Slugs, like it was mentioned are a problem. That's what salt and beer tubs are for! Animals have no problems, just make sure you protect them from foot rot, and have a draft free place for them to get into.

    As I type this the weatherman is saying it will hit 84 degree's today! Usually April is pretty wet, but it's been a beautiful April here for us.

    mljjranch-who can't stay registered when I try and post!
  8. snoozy

    snoozy Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Kitsap Co, WA
    I used to have slugs ON THE DOG -- until I got ducks!
  9. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    I am farther west in Clallam County and I am in the temperate rain forest, Surrounded by the Olympic National Park. I can see Mt Olympus and hear the Pacific Ocean. We get about 13 feet of rain a year with most of it falling in the winter, but we get rain any time of the year. When summer temperatures climb, evaporation is quick, then the pacific breeze comes in and we get that white mist that you can only experience in a rain forest. It is like the angels atomizing God's terrarium. 80 degrees is HOT and our humidity fluxuates between 23% and 90%.

    Another growing challenge we face year round is low light. With rain, overcast and fog, we only have a 50% sunlight rating. This means a packet of seeds that say "60 days to maturity" may well take 120 days. This means one corn crop and one cutting of hay. The upside is we can grow traditional winter gardens all year. Crunchy snow peas in August are a nice treat when the tomato plant is rotted to the ground.

    As others mentioned, we have very acidic soil. The ph of my soil is 4.2. Great for ferns and moss. What grows naturally well here are berries. Raspberries, huckleberries, blackberries, elderberries and strawberries are very successful, as are apple trees, hardy roses and dahlias.

    With the addition of lime, bone meal, iron and ashes, perrenial vegetables and herbs do very well. Artichokes, parsley, french sorrel, sweet woodruff, sweet cicily, chervil and even kale come back year after year bigger and stronger.

    Powdery mildew does thrive on some plants, but our growth is so lush, the plants usually outgrow the mildew. Watering early in the day instead of evening, when we have to water is a big help.

    With a little thought to winter protection from the northwind, subtropicals grow well also. Figs, pomegranites, kiwi and akebia do very well, so does bamboo and even some varieties of palm. Did I mention the different ferns and mosses than can grow here? Some are quite exotic. Carniverous plants seem to be happy, too.

    Mold mildew and fungus.

    Rain rot can be a problem for livestock even with a roof to stand under. The rainy season is also the growing season for pasture. The rain is warm, the grass is sweet, the livestock is wet.

    Foot rot seems to be a problem only for some animals while others seem impervious. Giving them a well drained dry place to hang out does help. Thrush isn't a problem out here. My theory is the soil is too acid for thrush to thrive. We have deep spruce needles for them to stand on in their sheltered hang out places.

    Mold and mildew is a major allergy problem. We graze the livestock on the lawn to keep it short as waiting for it to get dry enough to mow means the grass is long and harboring a lot of mold and mildew that gets thrown into the air. If a neighbor mows tall damp grass and we have allergy attacks, we go sit on the beach and breath in oxygen rich salt air.

    Any house that has had a water or moisture leak anywhere will have mold. Black slime molds are a big problem in older houses that were not built with good ventilation. Any neglect on a home will have problems. Mushrooms growing out of siding is a common sight.

    Mushrooms are plentiful and beautiful. The big, red amanitas sometimes grow 2 feet across. They are poisonous as are many varieties that grow here. One dull brown mushroom attracts slugs, they eat it and die.
    We have many edible mushroom varieties that grow. For those knowledgable about mushrooms, farming and foraging is a viable money maker. Some of our marketable and delicious mushrooms are morels, chanterelles, oyster, hedgehog, meadow, shaggy mane, king boletus and giant puffball.

    Parasites and vermin need aggressive control in this climate. We often do not have tha hard freezes that kill out intestinal parasites, fleas and lice. Not only do we treat the animals, we also treat the ground with diatomaceous earth, too.

    Living out here is different and sometimes harder than other places, but it does have advantages. No poisonous snakes or spiders, no poison oak or ivy, no ticks and no grizzly bears.
  10. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

    Mar 12, 2004
    Along the Stillaquamish, Washington

    I'm in Snohomish County which extends from Puget Sound to the crest of the Cascade Mountains. I live in the foothills, about 20 miles inland. While wet, we don't qualify as temperate rainforest. Most rain falls from November to June, things usually dry up just after July 4th. This spring has been exceptionally dry and warm and is making me very worried about my well for this summer. Summers are normally dry, almost droughtlike. Some years we don't see any measureable rain from early July to Labor Day. Our climate is often compared to Southern England, and any books on gardening there will apply here. Winters tend to be mild, very few below freezing nights, very rare to get down into the teens. Most animals do well with minimal protection, or in the case of my Highland cows, just a place to get out of the mud. I have to bribe them to get them inside, they spend even the wettest and coldest nights sleeping under the trees.
    Mold and mildew are problems in poorly ventilated spaces, wether inside or out. Get the air moving and there is no problem.