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Drought and gardening?

Posted by bob_b Sunset 14, Ca. (My Page) on
Fri, Jan 31, 14 at 15:30

So how will the drought affect your gardening?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Drought and gardening?

I've been thinking a lot about this, especially what the summer will be like. What we do depends on if we get a February or March miracle like we had a few years ago. We can hope.

Most of our shrubs are old and could probably survive with a lot less water. The lawn could die, I guess. I would hate to lose my 40 rose bushes. Could skip the vegetable garden this summer. We have a young magnolia which still needs water.

How about you, Bob?


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RE: Drought and gardening?

It's going to be an opportunity to learn a whole lot.
I feel like I have "equipped" if you will, my garden & yard fairly well to withstand less water & I can't wait to see what lives & dies. I already operate semi-xeric so with an exception of a few vegetables I'm fairly confident.
At the same time a March Miracle would be so welcome!! Prepare for loss & have fun.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Our former property would have survived with almost water, but this yard I have doubts about. It's totally a 'city' yard, and old at that. I will use saved grey water to water my herbs, vegetables and citrus, the rest will probably die. It won't be pretty.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

My gardening will be affected with a higher water bill.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by jenn SoCal 9/19 (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 1, 14 at 10:11

In the bathrooms, we have a 4-gallon bucket in each shower to catch excess water. We save about 7 gallons each day and use it to water plants. I'm going to see how long we can go without having to fill the watering can from the garden hose.

In the kitchen, we have an old 1-gallon Tupperware pitcher (orange -- remember those?) by the kitchen sink to catch excess water. We save a few gallons a week this way.

In the garden, I'm converting small areas to low/no water. Fortunately, we have clay soil!


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RE: Drought and gardening?

we installed a gray water hose from our washing machine to some of our plants out in our front/side yard, which has been great.

we also capture what little rain we get from our gutters in the back.

I like this idea:
"In the bathrooms, we have a 4-gallon bucket in each shower to catch excess water. We save about 7 gallons each day and use it to water plants. I'm going to see how long we can go without having to fill the watering can from the garden hose.

In the kitchen, we have an old 1-gallon Tupperware pitcher (orange -- remember those?) by the kitchen sink to catch excess water. We save a few gallons a week this way. "


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by jenn SoCal 9/19 (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 1, 14 at 13:49

Do any of you know if a little soap residue in the water is harmful to soil or plants? It's impossible to keep a little bit of it from splashing into the bucket during a shower.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

I don't think "a little" would make any difference, however you may want to err on the side of caution & use this water for just ornamentals, not vegetables. Your plants will soon tell you if they don't like it :)


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Long, long ago I watered a huge vegetable garden solely from grey water from the clothes washer. I used a biodegradable laundry soap. The garden loved it!

My grandmothers also watered with the water from the dishpan, but back then they only had soaps... not detergents, and it's my understanding that there is a difference.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Dawn dishsoap will cause brown spots on grass, but sometimes it will come back green. Not sure about it killing anything.
Detergents used to have phosphates but I'm not sure about them now a days.
I have an HE washer I guess I should do research on how much it uses.


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Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by bob_b Sunset 14, Ca. (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 1, 14 at 21:57

Last year I began to replace many of the high water using, herbaceous perennials with creeping junipers and woody perennials. This was done not so much to save water but to reduce maintenance and the need for frequent watering out in the intensively hot summer. I spend enough time on my twenty roses which I try to maintain nicely for my wife and, oh yes, my tomatoes, which I enjoy most of anything in the garden. Glad I made the changes. I'll be satisfied with roses and tomatoes.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 3, 14 at 11:59

Wrt soap in the garden, something like Dr. Bronner's won't hurt anything but a lot of detergents will. The reason is that when phosphates became a no-no the formulas were changed to sodium based detergents. Even most of the biodegradable laundry detergents are loaded with sodium. You should look for biocompatible laudry detergents and read the ingredient list. Bleach is obviously right out as it is sodium perchlorate and sodium hydroxide. Oxyclean is also sodium based. Automatic dishwasher detergent is terrible with lots of bleach and sodium. Bath soaps and shampoos are most likely fine. They probably have sodium edta or something similar as a preservative but in very small amounts. Obviously, water softners powered with a sodium based salt are no good as well.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by jenn SoCal 9/19 (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 3, 14 at 15:27

Thanks for the replies about soap.

I'm only concerned about liquid shower soap (Suave in particular - non-creamy) since don't save laundry water. After each shower, there's a small amount of suds around the edge.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

I think a google search is in order to research soap & detergent products & affects on the environment.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

If we get put onto rationing again, I may have to run the irrigation more often. Last time we were on a Sunday and Wednesday schedule, or something similar. I generally water as needed. Some plants could go from Sunday until Thursday or Friday before needing irrigation--but they could not survive once/week irrigation during hot weather. Rationing forced me to water twice/week even though the plants only needed watering every 5 days.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 3, 14 at 20:29

Gyr Falcon, you may want to talk to the city about that. When we got put on ration days, I was all prepared to pitch a fit because you could only run on certain days and for a short amount of time. Well if you are using drip everyday at ETo replacement timing for high efficiency or using low precipitation rate rotors that need to run for an hour you would be screwed even though you are being really efficient. The powers that be, told me not to worry about it because they can tell who is the problem and that they weren't going to go after people using mp rotators or drip, just those blasting their lawn constantly. They also just said to water when your neighbors are asleep because that is how they get people, by having neighbors turn you in. They can tell how you are watering from the meter. If you're not a total douche, you can get away with breaking the ration days.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Nil13, most of our outdoor irrigation is drip or micro emitters. But you never know how they are going to set up the rationing. I would not bother raising my blood pressure trying to reason with this water district/city.

Last year I wrote the water district to suggest they correct some glaring errors in their top dozen drought resistant plant list. They had a photo of Syringa vulgaris as ceanothus, they listed two plants that are only sold and grown in eastern U.S., and some of the recommended plants were average water users, at best. Would you list Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus) in your top dozen suggestions for a hot, dry climate such as Southern California? They did. Yet I never even got so much as a form letter reply, and nothing got changed on their site.

I'm sure I'd quickly lose my temper dealing with these powers that be in person. lol


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by sffog 10/SanFran (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 4, 14 at 11:16

i need to learn how to install grey water hose for the washing machine, anyone with information or a link, please


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RE: Drought and gardening?

This drought is horrible.

Last year I bought 2 330 gallon IBC totes and 6 55 gallon drums to store rain water.

I even installed a drip irrigation system. Due to the drought I dropped my emitters from 4 gph and running for 4 hours to 1 gph running for 4 hours.

I have about 50 fruit trees and bushes fed off of my 2 ibc totes. I am totally off grid as far as plants go. BUT I am out of rainwater. My next step here soon is to reroute the washing machine out to the avocado trees. They aren't planted yet (they're going in in may) as I want them planted before I run the hose out there (camouflage purposes.)

If we don't get rain in the next month, I'll have to water by city water. Which I do NOT want to do. I didn't spend $1000 for a rainwater and drip system just to see it no used lol.

Maybe because it's winter but my water bill already went down because of the few times I used the totes/barrels and drip irrigation. It went down on average $15/month.

So I'll be outside doing my rain dance. Anyone wanna join me?


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 6, 14 at 11:06

sffog, try this link.

farmerkevin, you spent a grand in order to save $15/mo? That's a pretty long ROI. Also, why to you feel the need to camoflage the hose? just get some 1.5" sanitary pipe and bury it with proper fall into a mulch basin. Then just discharge into that pipe.

Here is a link that might be useful: create an oasis with greywater


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Nil13. It's not about the return on investment. It is more about being self sustaining and off grid/independent. Some months were more saved and some were less saved. I operate on $350 a month, so $15 a month saved is huge.

And about camoflouging the hose. They built million dollar houses behind be. They are extremely nosey and find any reason to call me in. I was having a SMALL fire in an approved pit. They called the cops. I know it was them because my neighbor to my left is my grandmother, at the end of the street, that guy has fires himself, my neighbor to the right has fires themselves, and their neighbor has fires too.

I think its because my house is more "self sustaining". I have chickens (and a crowing rooster), fruit trees, a decent sized garden, compost bin, firewood pile, etc. It's not a common site in this part of town, and if you paid $750k+ for your house, now it's worth squat, and had to look at a $100k trailer, wouldn't you be pizzed??

I just want to hide it so that the busy bodies don't call me in for illegal waste water dumping or some stuff. I'd just rather avoid the hassle.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 6, 14 at 18:18

a single fixture laundry discharge to a mulch basin is perfectly legal in California without a permit. It's better to have everything prepped and ready when you plant.

with regards to the ROI, ROI is always important especially on a limited income. You have about 1000 gallons of storage at the cost of $1000. For a few hundred you could have the materials for a multifixture greywater system and be discharging a few hundred gallons per week. The average family of 4 will discharge about 500 gallons per week. So that would be about 2000 gallons per month or 2x your storage capacity. That's every month and that's water that is already paid for.

Now let's talk about storage capacity. I did the calcs for my tiny house with a seasonal rainfall average of 15 inches and came up with about 10,000 gallons of water. So you would be storing about 10% which is pretty good for barrels. But in order to really get some serious storage you have to either spend a ton of money on a huge cistern like the Romans would have done or look at what farmers do and make an irrigation pond. In urban areas I like to call those fountains if kept less than 18" deep. all you need then is a pond liner and a big hole and you are able to quickly get into the 5000 gallon range. A effluent pump for irrigation willset you back another few hundred bucks and never clog.

People have had this whole rain barrel thing beat into their heads but the quantity of water is so insignificant it's ridiculous to have just a couple barrels. At least you went an order of magnitude bigger.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

In the summer i use the water from my swamp cooler..twice a day water drops in a bucket from my cooler i use that to water my garden..


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Good info nil13 :)

I wish I had room for a cistern. My house is on the front/level part of the yard. It's at the top of the hill. The trees and plants are all downhill, so I opted for a drip system that was gravity fed. I don't want to rely on power/grid. Plus there literally is nowhere to put it. I have trees or something planted on every square foot of this property.

My most recent thought is to have a 330 tote where the avocado trees are, which would make the top level with the bottom of the house. The discharge would empty right into it. It would only be for washing machine. I rent out a room once in a while for extra income and don't want to hook the showers into it (I have a fear that someone would pee in the shower)

The only reason I'm using totes and barrels is because they can be stacked. I do plan on getting more totes. But at $150 a pop for 330 gallons, it'll have to wait.

Oh and I did some more accurate math. I'm actually only ~$800 into the setup.
$100 for drip irrigation ($20 initial plus more emitters, tubing, fittings, filter)
$90 for barrels
$300 for wood to build the stand for the barrels and PVC pipe and fittings
$340 for 2 330 totes delivered

So I'm hoping to get my ROI in 8 years haha.

Seriously though, I have a friend in the fruit stand business that said I could sell fruit through them. So ~$15 a month saved in water, plus whatever I can sell, even if I only sell $20 a month in fruit/veggies, that's $35 a month I'm not putting out that i could use for other things. Oh and my water bill usually only ran around $45 a month even with tenants. Knock off $15 and that's $30. Not bad if I don't say so myself.

Back on topic though, gardening and drought. I have planted and am growing drought resistant plants (3 kinds of prickly pear cactus, aloe Vera, lavender, etc) so that even if my yard starts to suffer from lack of water, there's still some good looking plants out there.

I also mulch heavily. Before I would mulch, I was watering every other day where there was decomposing granite and less where there was red clay. When I started planting and amending the soil, I started mulching. I noticed the plants would grow better and look healthier on less water. I used to water my roses 3 times a week and they were still suffering in the summer. Now I can water 2 times a week and they thrive in summer. I can pull back the mulch a week later and it's still moist. Not soggy but moist. Same with my blueberries. I dug the whole section out, amended with acidic soil (50% acid soil, 50% original material), planted the blueberries in the ground, and mulched. 2 are COVERED in flowers but the last one is struggling. It was put in last and I assume that by next year it should be ok. It's just not set in yet. One more year :)

I also water on set days. Saturdays and Wednesdays. Water long, and slow. Make the water go down deep so the roots go deep looking for it. Deeper the roots, hardier the tree or plant.

I root zone water. Never from above.

I also water either early early (6am-10am, 7am-11am, whenever I wake up and get my day started) or if I have to work or am preoccupied, I'll do (1pm-5pm or 2pm-6pm) avoiding the hottest part of the day to lessen evaporation. I used to water in the evening not noticed my Valencia showing leaf curl and signs of distress. I got no Valencia last year. So I switched it up, and now not watering at night, its loaded with golf ball sized fruit. I suspect it was starting to suffer root rot from the water sitting in the basin overnight. It's on a hill and I water at the drip line and it runs into the basin before overflowing out to the other side of the basin to the other drip line.

Same with my tangelos(?) when I got the house, there was a tiny citrus tree hidden in a corner. It and another unknown citrus didn't produce the first 2 years I was here. Both were about dead. But now on less water (4 gallons twice a week=8 gallons a week) they are thriving. The unknown has fruit that should be ready in the next couple of weeks and the tangelo(?) has small marble sized fruit all over it and more flowers.

For me this drought has been a blessing. It really showed me and taught me how little water the trees need. They sell .5gph emitters but I will NOT go that far down. 1gph is as low as I'm comfortable at. This drought taught me more anout how important mulch is (I had mulched before, but didn't take it seriously), taught me to root water, not from above, avoid watering during the hottest part of the day, taught me to water deep and slow.

Sorry about the life story. I finally had a few minutes to myself lol


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 7, 14 at 11:03

don't store greywater for longer than 24hrs!!! even if it is only from the washing machine. Don't worry about people peeing in the shower. It's just fertilizer and it's sterile. plus the salt really isn't a problem because of all the other water.

You're on a downhill lot. Downhill lots are made for greywater.

I recommend picking upthe book that the people at the link I provided above wrote. It's cheap and full of good info.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by sffog 10/SanFran (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 7, 14 at 13:09

nil13, thanks for the link. very helpful, now i have an idea how to recycle the laundry water


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Ok nil13. When I get to a computer, I'll check out the link. My phone is acting funny, and won't open the link.

Thanks :)


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Crazy that code won't let you install gray water distribution. In areas with septic it makes a whole lot of sense. This is completely valid where the history of the area is rural and agricultural. However, in my part of California paternalism is rife. So there's no chance you can have gray watering without running the risk of a vindictive soul turning you in for a code violation.

Anyone have thoughts on this in Southern California?


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 12, 14 at 11:01

CA code allows for greywater distribution. Where are you that it isn't allowed, psient?


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by chadinlg zone 9%3B Sunset 15 (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 12, 14 at 14:03

I'm sure you will have a filter for your drip system - just be aware that water from the Washing machine will contain a lot of clothes fibers and will clog your filter in a short time.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Rain barrows are not going to help if they won't fill and then consider the water will be too heavy to lift and move it around. I am thinking of a grey water system, but I can't do it right now do right, but that would be my long term plan. I have less worry san Francisco is not that hot in the summer, so takes less water and I compost make my own compost which keeps the moisture in a lot better then dry hard soil.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 16, 14 at 12:13

Here's a Simple Laundry Greywater System that just about anyone can set up. Even if you capture every other rinse cycle, it could add up to a lot of saved water.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Mr clint that is a good idea, but would take a lot of lifting carrying of the water out of the basement to the garden, which is why I would rather have an automatic system connected to the shower. I use only natural soap like dr. Bonners, but my washing machine is low water anyway, and I think showers use a lot more water.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 16, 14 at 13:17

tropical_thought, there isn't an optimal solution for every situation. The easy entry points into gray water reclamation for most people is to capture water into buckets. The water that is normally wasted waiting for the optimal temperature for sink and shower, or rinsing fruits and veg is enough for me to top off three EarthBoxes every day.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

nil13:

I'm in Riverside. If I'm not mistaken there is nothing one can do to re-route plumbing from appliances and sinks to a non-septic distribution. Even though residences in my area are mostly on commercial citrus acreage and under the provisions of an agricultural zoning, grey water is not allowed.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Grey water is not allowed? I hope they can change that. I own my property and I think in the future more companies will begin to install grey water systems. But, it can be complicated and expensive to install. I think the water goes from certain areas of your choice ie the shower into a filter type thing, and is then distributed to your plants via your drip system, which would be a timer so as to allow the correct application of the water at the correct time. Plants that are watered little bits too often will die from root rot. That does not seem to be harmful or objectionable unless all properties have to uniform such as some kind of condo or co op, but if they all have outside plants they can all get a system and be all uniform. I saw an article about once on the local news. But, almost no one has one around here. It's like solar power, very obscure.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

Be sure you are looking at the most recent laws on the books; on the state level, there were changed made in 2010, I believe. The problem is, there are also county and city regulations that have not necessarily kept pace with the state. So it is a bit of a jungle weeding through what is, and is not, allowed.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 17, 14 at 12:54

Greywater diversion is approved at the state level, and I am not finding anything at the Riverside County Building Department website to contradict that. They law changed in 2009 and was written in to the plumbing code in 2011.

You don't need a complicated filtration system anymore. That was the ridiculous old code. Now all you have to do is have the discharge below grade into an 8" deep mulch basin. No storage is allowed. The water is not allowed to pool on he surface. The system that is being promoted is the branched drain system.

A single fixture laundry doesn't need a permit to drain to a mulch basin if the existing plumbing is not altered. Once you start altering existing plumbing, you need a permit and diverter valves.

Now it is possible that a locality will have stricter ordinances, but I wouldn't assume that. I would head over to the building department and find out. And since ordinances change frequently, don't assume that because someone went to the building department 5 years ago and it wasn't allowed that it still is not allowed. And if they tell you it's not permitted, make them show you the specific ordinance that says so and photocopy it for you. I couldn't tell you how many times I have had engineers at the building department give me wrong or out of date information.

Here is a link that might be useful: ca greywater regs

This post was edited by nil13 on Mon, Feb 17, 14 at 13:02


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RE: Drought and gardening?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 17, 14 at 13:15

If anyone gives up Scorched Earth Policy (raked beds of exposed soil) and converts to mulching with organic litter they can produce a huge improvement in soil moisture and temperature conditions. As an example some years ago Sunset magazine had an article about a Los Angeles man who collected yard waste from all over the neighborhood and dumped it on his place every year, was getting terrific results from his plantings. Of course, anyone with specific hobby crops like small-growing vegetables or blackspot prone rose cultivars will not want to be dumping bagloads of coarse litter around them - or retaining old leaves on the beds in the latter case.

But if I was living where there was a drought emergency I would just dispense with plants or plantings that didn't lend themselves to coping with the situation.

Everywhere the living soil system is based upon litter from plants and animals falling on top of the ground and sitting there, until it is integrated into the soil system. Gardens being kept "clean" does not allow for this, with attendant effects on soil quality being the result - including the soil's ability to accept and retain moisture.


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RE: Drought and gardening?

this will seem silly, but it's a good tip. I read it this morning and it reminded me that I have done this many times.

We all drop ice cubes now and then. Instead of tossing them in the sink, place them on the dirt of your potted plants. Free water!!

Suzi


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RE: Drought and gardening?

On another forum I found some interesting information on watering with Ollas. Evidently they are an ancient method of efficient watering. They use clay pots, and I imagine clay pipe, sealed would also work. Pots are cheaper.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ollas Information


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