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5 Things for Water Sustainability and Home Gardening

We are all aware of the drought in California and the long term implications of water. This is an article on what every family can do to be water and food sustainable.   Today most of us can get water at the turn of a faucet.. and it is cheap.  But if you have a choice consider and incorporate these 5 things to be more water thrifty.

Get Started by doing SOMETHING.....

1.  The number one thing you can do (if you are trying to grow anything) is Cover the Ground and mulch over it.  Since we like to grow veggies AND flowers we keep many of our veggies in  a series of raised beds with a fine mesh screen on the bottom to keep critters out and much on top.   Our flower gardens are full of pretty flower beds in the ground with ground cloth and mulch.  We improve the flower bed soil under the ground cloth by pulling it back from time to time and laying on compost and digging in a perlite, water pearl mix and beneficial bacteria along with rotted horse manure.  We  then recovering it and add bark on top  This saves water and catches nutrients.  We also use a LOT of mulch on our raised beds since these tend to dry out quicker.

Strawberries with a perlite top dressing
that we will dig  and water Pearls
2.  Pick a water thrifty Medium.  This is a somewhat new idea to gardeners but is becoming de facto in the West.  Amend soil with a  medium like Perlite  (which is organic) and water pearls (also organic) and then add a top dressing of micro nutrients benefical bacteria that will grow and multiply in the soil.  We use this at Castle Gardener.    Not only is it less expensive than buying organic compost or dirt but the pearls in it retain water and the perlite itself is naturally porous so your nutrients and organic micro bacteria have a nice place to take up residence. The Result?  you use less water and your plants eat better.

If you mix it into your garden soil it is works great and is fine with your worms.   We use a greater concentration of perlite in our raised beds to increase yield (cuz it holds nutrients) so be aware there is a point where your additives can make the soil non worm friendly.   In our flower gardens we dig it in.   In fact dig it in everywhere in your gardens to improve soil and save water.

You can cover these tanks with fence sections
These tanks are about 24 inches thick
3.  Rain Water Collection. A 4X 6 raised bed garden can provide all the veggies two people need.  A collection of 10 pots along a wall can provide fruit trees or berry bushes.   In general you need 2 gallons of water a week per square foot of surface area.

So... if you do the math you need 2500 gallons for the raised bed and 1000 gallons for the pots.   While that may seem like a lot.  If you have a good rain water collection system it is easy.    
Out in the west or in Australia you see a lot of WaterWall systems... (or a bunch of  bunch of rain tanks work too but take a lot of room)....  A 1000 square foot roof can collect approximately 620 gallons of water in a 1 inch rainfall.  Each WaterWall piece contains 650 gallons, is about 1 foot think and 6 feet tall and can be lined up to make a wall or tucked along the side of your garage.   Make a fence of them...get creative..  Fence panels can attach right to them if you don't want to look at them.... 

4.  Become a drip expert.  Enough said.. Drip is EASY... the timers are cheap and they all hook right to water barrels.     

5.  Create a permanent Water retention plan for your property.   Don't let rainwater roll away or go down sewers.  Make driveways and patios  permeable with pavers and gravel, have drip edges on the sides of your house that channel water to low spots where it can infiltrate and seep back into groundwater.   The MOST inefficient and waste of water is letting it run into a storm drain... picking up oils and toxins along the way.    

Check back for our NEXT article:  What you can do in your home to save water...


Follow the Castle Gardener.   Perfecting permaculture and organic practices that are NO WORK and can be done by a farm girl with painted nails..