7.4.16 This week in the garden–Abundance in the Drought

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Posting pictures from my dad’s garden in San Diego this week. I had honestly given this space up for lost– the soil is root bound by a beloved family tree– and trying to make the vegetables thrive in the midst of the drought seemed too hard. But my dad has been puttering along for years, and when I didn’t plant it this year he did. He’s always said he didn’t want to be in charge of planting or deciding what to plant, but this year he took himself to the garden center and did a blitz purchase of both seeds and starts, and the garden is looking beautiful and yielding bucketfulls of beans, strange pink flowering strawberries, lots of spicy peppers and delicious cherry tomatoes (Kellog’s Breakfast, anyone? I think these little orange cherry tomatoes are my favorite).

The garden is ‘downstream’ from an outdoor shower that is designed to get the sand off from the beach. One of the tragedies of the design of the shower is that the drain empties to the street and not onto the plants. This weekend in a stroke of innovation, my mom put the kiddie pool under the shower head and by capturing the water in that, we could pour the catchement onto the garden. DIY-greywater irrigation seems like it is going to have to become the status quo in the middle of drought as parching and persistent as the one we’re dealing with here. Especially when it’s something like washing off sand, irrigating with the runoff just seems logical. It’s too bad that to make it ‘easy’ to do this by habit, it would be necessary to jack up concrete and re-route the drains. It puts me in mind of Brad Lancaster and his work in Tuscon to make sure that all new construction is plumbed with the option of greywater irrigation. This should be mandatory throughout California.

Until then, we are all hauling buckets, seeing how many baths we can get out of a tub of water, and thinking about washing clothes in the shower. A lot of people don’t have the stomach for this kind of re-use, though, and so everywhere in San Diego you see dead trees, and even shriveled and dead succulents and cacti. It would be lovely to see some of the funding that is going to lawn conversion re-routed for passive greywater systems so that we could maximize what we already have instead of defaulting to one-off moonscapes. On a positive note, San Diego County Environmental Health does have a program that will provide basic design consultation on passive greywater systems, see link here.

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