I live in Utah. Am I screwed?
I currently live in an apartment, but my dream has been to buy a home on a 1/4th or 1/3rd acre lot, and turn the entire thing into a giant garden, and do some major urban homesteading.
I'm very concerned about water conservation, though. I was excited tonight when I cracked open Gaia's Garden and read about someone who was able to grow a lush, green garden in New Mexico with very little municipal water use! Could it be true!
So I flipped forward to the chapter on water use, and the numbers just don't seem to add up. The author says, as a rule of thumb, that you'll need about 1 gallon of water for every 10 sq. ft. of garden space.
I live near Salt Lake City, UT, where we get about 17 inches of precipitation per year. If the rain fell evenly throughout the year (which it doesn't), this would provide about 106 gallons for every 10 sq. ft., which I guess means that I'm good for about 106 days, or 30% of the year.
Since the rain doesn't fall evenly throughout the year, my actual benefit will probably be much less, but I can try and stretch it out as much as possible using water storage, mulch, ground cover, etc. Maybe I can get through 20% of the year (75 days or so) using just rain water.
Ok, so on to rainwater collection. If my roof is about 1,000 sq. ft. in unsloped area, then I can collect about 10,625 gallons of water per year off my roof. This is enough for roughly 106,250 sqft-days of use. So, if my garden is about a third of an acre (13,000 sq. ft.), this water will last me about 8-9 days. If my garden is about a fourth of an acre, (roughly 11,000 sq. ft.), this will buy me roughly 9-10 days. Not much help.
I figure that I may not need to water much during the winter months (correct me if I'm wrong). So, let's say I need to water 270 days out of the year. Best-case scenario, the rainfall in my area buys me 85 of those days. So, I need to draw on the municipal water system for the remaining 185 days.
For a 1/4th acre lot, I'll need about 1,100 gallons of water per day, according to the 1 gallon per 10 sq. ft. rule!
Sure, I could recycle gray water, but according to this book, most households "only" use about 100-200 gallons of water, total, per day. I was hoping to be able to use less water than the average, not more. I guess that is a stupid plan, though, if you're trying to grow your own food in Utah!
Gosh, though. Over a thousand gallons of water a day? Does that sound right or am I way off? I think I need to move to Washington.