California is in its 2nd year of a historical drought. Although,our state has naturally moved through cycles of drought and abundant rain, over the past many decades, its still disconcerting that we have not had a storm for a couple of months.
Gardeners, farmers and concerned citizens a like are taking drastic measures for conserving water from tearing out lawns to integrating water saving technology and even abstaining from planting their spring gardens. Unfortunately, the latter does little if anything, to actually conserve water. Those choosing to refrain from putting a garden in are generally still purchasing the same produce, they would be growing, from a supermarket. Big ag accounts for 70% of the world’s water use and much of that is wasted in inefficient practices. Some of those practices include overhead watering, washing produce before and after shipping, transporting food across state and international borders and disposing of food aesthetically not marketable.
With new emergency water conservation regulations, set by the State, Californians are feeling the need to not plant a garden. Yet, a home gardener and even a small-scale farmer can grow food efficiently, while using a minimum amount of water. Integrating simple solutions can make the difference between enjoying fresh garden veggies out of the garden or compromising for store bought. Consider heavy mulching, planting more drought tolerant varieties, experimenting with dry-farming, use smart watering strategies, reuse shower and cooking water to irrigate, use intensive planting practices and plant varieties with similar water needs together.
Eliminating weeds, may seems like gardeners’ protocol, but many gardeners also make peace with their weeds and use a more zen approach to plants that are in the wrong place. But the reality is that some weeds, like lambs quarters and crab grass, are responsible for consuming 80 gallons of water to create 1 pound of plant tissue – that is a staggering number! Integrating weed control with heavy mulching can go a long way in water conservation tactics, conserving as much as 1 inch of water per week.
By integrating low-tech water saving technology in homes, such as low flow showerheads and aerators and expanding that to the garden with low-flow watering wands, rain barrels and drip irrigation, saving water while having a thriving garden couldn’t be easier. Best of all California is offering a lot of financial incentives for water conservation.
With new rebate programs, homeowners can integrate solutions such as:
Laundry-to-landscape system components
- Rain barrel
- Pool covers
- Hot water recirculation systems
By growing your own food you can control the amount of water used and limit water waste. By doing a little research and some minor adjustments, gardeners can still grow an abundant garden year round! Best of all dry farming practices add more flavor while using drastically less water – what a concept Less water more flavor! All these simple practices can make a big difference in the bigger picture. It’s now all of our responsibilities to conserve every drop!