Saturday, May 14, 2011

WATER-WISE: What works to save water while gardening in SoCal

In case, you did not know: Here in California, we truely, really and officially live in a drought zone. This is a dessert after all. I know, one can get confused when one sees all these heavily watered lawns and parks but let's not be fooled: Water is a scarce resource out here.

In fact, there is a huge water shortage and naturally I get pretty upset to see people hosing the street with the liquid gold. Where I come from (a country where the Green party has been actively forming and changing Government for the better of humanity since the 80's! Yes, you may say I am a proud citizen of probably the only country on Earth where it is politically incorrect to have patriotic feelings.) this is completely unheard of! Get a broom, please! This BTW has the extra benefit of giving you a great core (your belly!) and upper body (back & arms) work-out. Saves water AND a personal trainer! Good for the planet, good for you!

While in the past, every year the Governator declared a water shortage in CA, the people did not care too much about this; and honestly a bunch of people actually acted shockingly surprised (!) when I (maybe a tad too emphatically) informed them about this and then there were also a few who simply denied that in fact there is a shortage of H2O. UNBELIEVABLE, I know... Makes you wonder, in which fairytale lala-land they have been living?!
While one could blame the Government for not informing and educating people enough, I find it is more likely that wth all this media-nonsense-noise (Paris Hilton going to jail, Britney slamming an umbrella into a car, Donald Trump's hair, and the Royal Wedding not to forget), one cannot blame anyone for overhearing some real stories or warnings.

And personally, I feel that some people simply reject being educated on environmental issues.
In any event, we are trying to be more water-wise here on the Suburban Homestead.

  • Using a cup to brush teeth, instead of letting the water run.
  • Repurposing water, i.e. water from the duck pond. After about three days of 'soiling' the water, we take it and pump it out and water the trees. Has the nice benefit of fertilising while watering.
  • Harvesting rain-water in re-purposed wine-barrels - now our trees are going to be Syrah-drunk. We got these used barrels cheap from a vintner. Apparently they can only use thm for wine-making for a certain number of ywars and then berid them. One man's trash is another man''s treasure. So, Roberto drilled holes into the barrrels to connect them to the water spout as well as hook them together and then installed a hand-cranked pump. Love that thing! Amazingly, we collected full barrels still in early May in SoCal!
  • And lastly, I ordered a bunch of Ollas.


These Ollas, terracotta vases, were pretty pricey but the idea is that you bury them in the earth and then the plant roots 'draw' the water out of the porous ollas, hence, the plants get the water where they need it (no loss due to evaporation) and you do noot overwater.  

I also bought a drip hose, which I placed aroud our zucchinis and corn in the front yard.


This  thing has pores thriugh which the water 'leaks'.
You need to really make sure this thing reaches every plant otherwise it is not soo helpful. Also there will be mostly likely be spots where you water where there is no plant.
I am honestly not too impressed with this thing and find hand-watering after moisture measuring more useful.

Another cool inexpensive gatched is the water-meter: It lets me know, when the soil is wet, moist or soil and so I am not overwatering.

Only when it shows 'dry' will I use H2O. Very helpful!

As a matter of fact, working more in tune with La Luna also aids in being more sensible to water usage: On days when the moon is in a water-sign (cancer, scorpio, pisces), there is usualy due drops on the plants in the morning and the soil measures pretty moist / wet.

So, we won't water on those days.

According to bio-dynamic principles, hacking around the plants in the evening enables them to absorb moisture in the air, which is also a way to reduce watering.

Eventually, we hope to install a graywater system. . .

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

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