we have drought

sffog(10/SanFran)January 17, 2014

its official we are in a DROUGHT. (so says Jerry, the gov) as if we didn't know. okay folks lets start rain dancing, rain praying or whatever . time to bring out the barrels for grey water although my grey water isn't really grey, i have a bucket in the shower to save the cold water before the hot water starts, its quite a bit that would normally go down the drain,memories of the 70's drought
any more drought tips for the garden???

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this is a great time to let the lawn die and replace it with something much more cool and interesting. Neighbors can't complain, there's a drought on!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 1:40PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

We have the same shower thing. Takes forever for the hot to kick in. Same with the kitchen sink. We need to buy a bunch of buckets for sure.

I remember that last drought. Seems like they shut the water off certain times of the day? Or certain days?

Here we go............ :-))

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 2:14PM
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In the summer i use the water that drops from the swamp cooler to water my garden..A lot of folks who live in the desert are replacing their grass with a cactus them yard.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 2:52PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Seems like an appropriate time to bring back one of my favorite songs from when I was growing up in drought prone California. I can only remember the part that goes "how in the heck are you going to wash your neck, if it ain't going to rain anymore" Al

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 10:13AM
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I am cosideing using the buildup of dropped rrdwood leaves as a thick mulch to keep the soil cooler and moisture in.

I planted winter veggies in those very large felt pots to prevent waterlogging in case of rain (ha!) But i will not use them this summer since i think it would take too much water to keep them going.

I have some cowpeas from Sierra Seed that are supposed to be quite drought tolerant, so i will give them a go.

I also have some punta banda tomato seeds, a wild desert variety that is supposed to be more drought tolerant and good for drying. If the seeds still germinate i will try those too.

Maybe bush type winter squash would have lower water needs? And maybe so for bush beans? No idea really, just curious thought that maybe shorter plants mean less water ?.

Here is a link that might be useful: a sonoma gardeners blog drought tips

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 6:51PM
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My approach will be to use more EarthBoxes. They can be filled with gray water, whereas gray water doesn't go as far in my raised beds.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 7:50PM
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My yard is mostly south & west exposed in the southern Inland Empire. I will continue my no-till strategy & use fish emulsion & compost to continually feed the soil food web. Mulch will be applied as needed & periodically for water retention. I already operate semi-xeric but my soil stays moist under a heavy blanket even in areas with all day sun. Planting sun lovers like giant sunflowers & chia (salvia hispanica) to provide shade & look good en masse. This might be a good time to bring big rocks into the garden to put next to plants to provide a moist shadow on the surface & below. All of this has contributed to a productive vegetable garden with healthy, not quite pest free plants & a significant population of ornamentals selected for long bloom & drought tolerance.
Cherish the rain, Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 8:48PM
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Mrclint, i have 4 earthboxes. I had not thought about using grey water in them specifically, but it would be quite convenient. Those are conveniently located on my front deck.

I am still going to add about 50 square feet of raised beds, since i have already bought and cut the 2x12 lumber. I am hoping that deeply mulched larger beds will keep the soil temperatures a bit lower than the earthboxes and pots i am using now, our summer heat is too much even for tomatoes and peppers if they are in containers.

Paleogardener, 2 questions for you! 1. What do you use for mulch? 2. I have heard from a local master gardener that large rocks raise soil temps and transfer heat to roots...you are saying the opposite...so how large is large? Are you talking huge partially buried boulders?.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 10:33PM
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1. My favorite mulch is shredded leaves & leaf mold. I use compost as mulch & some store bought as well. The shredded leaves attract earthworms that till the soil & leave beneficial castings. Compost does pretty much the same thing. All my planted areas are covered in multiple layers, the base layer being store bought mulch. I go out of my way to gather & store leaves, I don't have any trees in my yard. :) I watch closely for heat check in the hottest part of the summer. Generally I can stop the check with a good application of mulch & regular watering.
2. I have roughly football size native granite in my yard. I put a couple on the south & west sides of some of my peppers about 6 to 8 inches from the base, standing the long way. It provides a little shade to the base of the plant & when you move or remove it you can observe the moist "shadow" it provides. The same thing works with my natives but I use bigger stones for them. I'd be interested to hear more pros & cons of doing this.
Hope that answers your questions.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 11:03PM
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Indeed it is another year of drought for SoCal. Even my California native plants are getting somewhat annoyed by the disappointing weather. Luckily, since they have been pretty well-established, they don't need watering, many of them fooled into thinking that it's still summer.

I just put on a thick layer of leaf mulch and keep a sharp eye on the weather reports, waiting for a report of heavy rain. On the positive side, most of the cool-season weeds germinated in the fall due to sparse rainfall, only to experience a dry winter; they died from drought.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 11:10PM
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If you have plants you love and they are water needy...consolidate. Keep the best together..get rid of any that say, are surrounded by those that are low water use. People in California do that all the time. You don't need to kill some old water needy plant if its prized. Just put the potted plants around it, etc.
And,from this point on..go xeric. Native or not.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 2:24PM
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My poor natives are getting supplemental water this winter since they aren't getting the rain they normally would.

I'm leaving the sycamore leaves right where they fell to conserve soil moisture since those trees are prettier with more water.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 12:27AM
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32 gallons of water collected since friday just from the cold water that comes up before the hot in the shower and sink, my thirsty plants get a drink today.
stanofh good idea i will group my water hogs (container figs trees and lime)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 11:41AM
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Paleogardener, thanks for answering my questions! I will experiment with shade boulders. Lots of native granite here too!

Sffog, you have inspired me. I picked up inexpensive buckets, dishpans, and a handheld showerhead. Tonight i watered the garlic, pea and lettuce sprouts with clean "scrap" water as you described. Most satisfying!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 12:44AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

If it's brown, flush it down! If it's yellow, keep it mellow! ;) From about 1976 I think? Nancy

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 8:59PM
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CathyCA SoCal(10)

Sign in a small hotel bathroom on Little Cayman (remote island, population less than 200):

In this land of fun and sun, do not flush for number 1.

Makes sense to me. And that number 1 can go in the garden.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 10:03PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I searched online for how long droughts last. The overwhelming answer was, "When it rains!"

Hey! It's raining in Southern California! NOW!


    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 11:30AM
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I love recycling water from in the house to water plants, but it sure is heavy! Approx. 8 lbs for a gallon.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 7:05PM
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Love the ideas to bring a bucket into the shower to collect the extra water. Until we install a gray water system for our bathwater, that's what we'll do (already have a hose diverting laundry water to our native CA garden out front).

And yes, if it's yellow keep it mellow-- brown flush down.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 12:39PM
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winstella(10b los angeles)

It rained a couple days ago and right now it is POURING. Couldn't even see while driving back from OC to LA. Very happy that we are getting some rain (even though some of my seedlings in containers outside might drown). Does this mean we're no longer in drought?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:18PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Our mountains are covered in snow. But we are in Southern California, Riverside county. We are used to less rain, but I think it's worse in Northern California. Yes 86% rain today!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 8:50AM
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Elraes Miller

I've been xeriscaping in various areas of my yard for many years. We have had drought for almost as long. This last home it was wall to wall grass moving in. The first thing to do was lasagna half the yard and add xeriscape. I kept cutting back the grass area and then we had a major drought which killed it enough to just get rid of all. My front yard is a xeriscape cottage garden, it is always interesting to me the number of plants which are drought resistant and not thought about....Daisies and irises among them. Added a dry creek and mulching. The blooms are at various times of the summer and interesting shapes during the winter.

The back yard still has some water loving plants, but am changing over as the become stressed. Got rid of the grass there too. No more fixing a sprinkler system or mowing. And now that I'm not mowing, there is a wonderful woods of natural trees from dropped seeds blown in. It is amazing how fast they have grown and loving the environment among their 50 year old siblings. I'm enjoying the forest so much more than grass. This is also mulched for weeds, which is more of a problem than once was, mowing did have it's positives.

It eludes me with the number of huge homes and yards of wall to wall grass. This is east of the Rockies and near the base of the mountains, it was always desert. I live in an older area where many huge homes have taken 3 and 4 properties to build grand. A block away a home has enough yard to cost 3,000 a month in the summer for water, and they have never planted any trees. This is not a typo, the contractors around were discussing this. Obviously a big home and they can afford it.

Xeriscape can be beautiful, hope many are looking in this direction. I did notice last summer that many homes are changing over. It is the farmers that I am sad for.

It is also interesting that as much as the cities push for low water usage and suggest xeriscape, the public buildings still have their grassy lawns and offer a 10' square of xeriscape example for homeowners to visit.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 9:39AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I'm currently in the process of installing a whole house branched drain greywater system. California adopted sensible greywater regs in 2009. It is now much easier to install one legally. It used to be that you had to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on an overly complex system. I have a few hundred in materials invested in mine. A single fixture laundry greywater system that doesn't alter the existing plumbing (out the back) doesn't even require a permit anymore.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 11:34AM
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I tried the old "bucket to catch my pre shower water". It must have been well over 5 gallons. Its the cold water before the warm kicks in. Too much for me to lift everyday and carry out to the yards (down stairs all done with a bad back). So I was kidding the wife about some contraptions to divert that water or any hand rinsing water...to the yards...and back to the house when its needed.
If I only had a few solenoids, y pipe fittings...It might be Rube Goldbergian. SO close!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 12:59PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

Oops. Wrong drought thread.

This post was edited by Gyr_Falcon on Mon, Feb 3, 14 at 15:45

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 3:41PM
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to stanofh when it time to empty the 5 gallon bucket my husband brings a small 2 or 3 gallon bucket and divides the load or you could siphon the water out of a window

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:11AM
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