In a recent posting I was bemoaning the fact that I’ve got to be a four season gardener these days, since California has no winter to speak of. (Thanks, by the way, to everyone elsewhere in the country who resisted sending me boxes of snow, even if only because it was too cold to go out to the Post Office.)
Well, since then the California drought has really kicked in and my first gardenless year since I first bust a sod is looming.
A good California resident would have drought measures front and centre no matter where their water comes from, of course. But our water happens to come from a well. And if the well runs dry there’ll be no showers, no clean clothes and NO TEA!
So I thought maybe I would let the farmers have the available water to grow the fruit and vegetables and then I’d give them money to help off-set the galactic irrigation bills that are coming.
I thought if I could just keep the trees and the rest of the permanent planting alive and spend all my gardening time on soil improvement, hard landscaping and killing star thistle (grrrr) I might end up ahead of the game.
It's amazing how easy it was to save water once I started thinking. The car was the first to go. I wrote "slumming for Jerry" in the dust on the back window and drove it around with pride. Then I washed the windows with Sparkle and kitchen roll instead of hot soapy water and a hose to rinse them.
But most of my wasted water is wasted waiting for it to run hot for dishes or washing. Enter the buckets.
There’s a bucket in the kitchen for the clean water that runs before the hot comes through and the clean-ish water that comes when you rinse lettuce etc. (The dirty water from potatoes and swishing out the coffee pot already goes on the compost heap.)
This bucket is currently keeping alive primroses at the front door (I'm not made of stone) and the beginnings of a fruit orchard:- a cherry, a persimmon, an Asian pear, a pomegranate and a fig. As an aside, I'm sure it says something about your approach to design if a slop pail fits right in to your kitchen theme.
The other bucket is in my bathroom, a long way from the hot tank, and it gets filled to the brim before the water is warm enough to step under every day. Then, if I put it back in there and stand beside it, I get another brimming bucketful during the shower.
So. The Monterey-pine-hedge-to-be, grown from seed and currently eighteen months old, is going to be the softest, shiniest pine hedge ever.
After all, it’s being raised on a diet of Daddy-oh shampoo, Pantene for Colored and Treated and Buffy The Backside Slayer, or as it’s called in my house “greasy grit”, from the time the undergardener came through, dripping wet and hopping mad, to say “Why is the shower tray full of greasy grit? I nearly fell flat on my [redacted].”
And, of course, I can’t resist the rising sap and the calling bluejays – the lure of springtime. I’ve already sown lettuce seeds in a tub and rocket seeds in a patch near the artichoke, which is going to need watered every day with shower water anyway. Who knows? Maybe this year of no gardening will be the best gardening year ever.
I’m certainly enjoying the challenge so far. And if anyone has any water-saving tips, I’d love to hear them.