NOTE: This post features the second of the three themes of my forthcoming book. I covered the first theme, Nature and the Built Environment, last week.
Here’s the answer to the question that’s on every desert gardener’s mind: How do you water it? My gardening water comes from three sources:
- Our local utility, Tucson Water. Face it, there’s nothing like turning on the tap and watching the water come out. According to Tucson Water, approximately 40% of water use in Tucson is outdoors. This includes residential uses like landscape irrigation and garden watering. However, our municipal water supply has a higher salt content than rainwater, and salt can be toxic to plants. That’s why I had a cistern installed – as much as possible, I want to keep my garden off city water so I can help it thrive.
- My cistern has a capacity of 1,500 gallons. It’s harvesting rainwater from 500 square feet of roof. That works out to 250 gallons from a one-inch rainstorm. In other words, six inches of rain will fill the thing. That’s about half the rainfall we get all year – on an average year. But for several years, we’ve been in a drought. That’s why I and a lot of other Tucsonans are often hoping, praying, begging, and pleading for more R-A-I-N.
- Greywater. Oh, how I wish that my garden plants could live entirely on rainwater. But this is Tucson, the place with that five-month inferno called summer. Daytime highs range between too darn hot and a hundred and umpteen degrees. And then there are the droughts like the one we’re having now. So, I supplement my fresh tap water and harvested rainwater with greywater. This includes dish water that I haul out to the plants – not to worry, I use the Oasis brand of biodegradable soaps – and laundry water via my greywater harvesting system. The Watershed Management Group installed this system in 2017, and it irrigates my fig, Meyer lemon, and pomegranate trees.
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