I wrote this article for the Cambrian (local publication) in October. Many people commented on it to me so I decided to pass it on to you who read my blog. I never get too upset about the politics in our small town. Nothing really changes. We have had a “water issue” for 40 years and nothing has been done about it. So here we are being limited and regulated in the use of our water. We’ll see how this all turns out.
In the 1980’s there was drought throughout the west. Water directors where we were living in Marin County piped water from the Sacramento delta, across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, providing customers with enough water for basic needs. Like people here in Cambria, our family carried water from showers to water trees and used clean sink water from washing fruits and vegetables to water potted plants. When the rains came, the crisis was abated.
Any gardener or farmer worth their salt knew there was no water in the soil and that the shortage of rain over the past few years was going to effect local wells. Why the CCSD (Cambria Services District) spent the last year talking about granting water hook-ups rather than solving the problem of an alternative water source is mind-boggling. But I’m way to practical to waste this space on my opinions. I’m a gardener. I’d rather discuss ways to keep our gardens alive in a water crisis.
Gardeners in Cambria are among the most resourceful I’ve met. Cisterns have been installed to catch roof run-off during rains. Friends on Marine terrace have tanks under their house that catch spring water. Some folks have been hauling tanks in the back of their pick-ups for years, helping themselves to the free non-potable water that CCSD offers, using it to keep their gardens green.
There are those who’ve had the foresight to plant drought tolerant plants that are California natives or are from Australia, Africa, and Chile. They may die back a bit but will live with little or no water. Common garden plants will need some supplemental water but will survive this fall if you are creative in saving water from household use. Potted plants, except for succulents, will suffer the most without water. Move your pots to a shady location now to avoid increase demands during the inevitable “hot spells” of fall.
Plants need some foliage to manufacture food, but leaves “transpire” giving off moisture. Native, drought tolerant plants naturally shed some of their leaves in the summer to reduce moisture loss. Let leaves dry naturally on the shrubs. If you prune too early, you may cause the plant to put out new foliage, increasing the need for moisture.
Be rational and don’t panic. Be patient. Be diligent. We will get through this. Hopefully, our gardens will survive and we’ll become “gardening fools” once again.