Friday, July 27, 2007

It's July. It's Virginia. Ack! It's Another Drought Watch.

No rain. No problem. Some annuals, like the Spider Flower, still keep going during the worst of times.

It is that time of year in Central Virginia when we need to rethink our water usage. If we don't receive much in the way of rain this week, water restrictions will go into place. Here are a few more details.

Out in Sugar Hollow, we rely heavily on rainwater, as we collect it off of our roof for all of our household water needs (check out Rainwater Management Solutions out of Salem, VA to learn more). So, as of late, showers are getting shorter, laundry is prioritized by way of familiar summer standards, plates and cups are reused and used again. And, parts of the garden suffer. In a huge, gut-wrenching way. It is all about picking our battles.

Yet, as a gardener and best-of-intentions nurturer of anything green, this is the hardest blow for me. Sniff.

Lots of crunchy stuff. Yellowed and stressed and dead. My carefully cultivated oasis of a container garden is struggling. Plants that normally thrive in Mediterranean-type climates - tomatoes, peppers, basil - are eking out an existence here in the Piedmont.

These times do open my eyes to what is kickin' in others' gardens during the dry spells. My friend Leora pointed out the Spider Flower a.k.a. Cleome to me the other night. Maybe next year.

But for now, the signs are all too clear. Our dwindling water supply is mirrored by the river that runs through Sugar Hollow. Low. Dried out. Desperate for replenishing.

As for my plants, I have the memories. And a few thirsty stalwarts who will teach me a little bit about a theory called - survival of the fittest. Rock on.

What do you do around the garden and in the house to make the most of your water usage while conserving?! Are there any plants you have found to be especially resilient during a drought?

The above photo is from Wikimedia.


Marvie said...

We haven't been put on water restrictions yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't happen soon. Here in Hampton Roads, we're pretty far behind on rainfall too.

I have been collecting the water from the a/c unit to water plants with. I have a 2 gal bucket under the drip, and over the course of a day I can collect 8-10 gallons of water. Eventually I'd like to set it up to run into a bed, but for now I just keep collecting and dumping.

I also reuse my dish water when I do them by hand. That's another 3-5 gallons a day. I use a dish tub in the sink and wash/rinse, all water goes into the tub not down the drain, then onto the nearest flowerbed.

All water from boiling and steaming when cooking, straight out to a container or bed.

I haven't gone so far as to collect water from the shower/tub or bathroom sinks, but if I needed to I would.

If I handle it right, I generally only have to water the tomatoes and green beans with the hose. All the flowers and herbs get hand watered with saved water.

Tracey said...

Oh, Marvie! Can I say, um, brilliant? I am loving the AC unit idea.

Pam/Digging said...

You wrote: What do you do around the garden and in the house to make the most of your water usage while conserving?!

While Austin is enjoying a surfeit of rain right now, we've often dealt with drought. To that end, I collect rainwater in two rain barrels and use it for small watering jobs and to refill my container pond. I also use my cooking water to give plants a drink. Planting drought-tolerant, native and adapted plants is the best defense against drought though.

You wrote: Are there any plants you have found to be especially resilient during a drought?

Agaves, yuccas, cacti, of course---and there are so many wonderful varieties that grow well in Austin. Native grasses, salvias, cupheas, lantana, rosemary, and even some antique roses will handle drought with little assistance.

Tracey said...

Hey there Pam,
I was hoping the hear from Texas - thank you! Your plant list is especially helpful - I would love to hear more about the antique roses - varieties, etc . . .

Anonymous said...

Up at 4:49am! That must be a gardening thing...

Gentle Palm's gardener, Portia said...

So glad I found your site. So sorry about the drought. Here we are kind of crunch too, although we had a much needed day of rain yesterday.

Sean Tubbs said...

I saw in this post that you mentioned Rainwater Management Solutions. I spoke last week with their salesperson in Charlottesville while they were installing a new filter at a home in Albemarle County. The resulting video has now been posted at Charlottesville Tomorrow, and I thought you might like to take a look.

Your ideas sound great, by the way!