imafan26
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How do you grow vegetables with less water

Climate change is here. California's drought and the declining rainfall in my State. Yep, Hawaii has had drought conditions for at least 3 years now especially on the Big Island. I have seen less rainfall every year. The BOWS has not instituted water restrictions in years. They have a more effective way to curtail use, they raise the fees.

How are you coping with less readily available water?
What kinds of vegetables and herbs can be grown using less water?
What can be done to make the water we have go farther?

I already Have rain barrels? But not very useful in the summer when there is no rain. I get about 20 inches a year.
I have cut back on watering and lost a few plants along the way.
I reuse water in the house- saving bath and sink water to flush the toilet and soaking dishes and doing them as a batch.
I am adding more organics to the soil and mulching.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Amazing/ frightening to think of drought in Hawaii! I'm in the half of the country that has more water than we know what to do with. We have big snow/ice mountains sitting around where it got piled up from streets, driveways, parking lots. Now there's a warm up coming with rain and (as Bobberman suggested) it is like to cause flooding when it all melts. I keep thinking someone could have packed all that snow/ice that we were running out of places to put into insulated train cars and shipped it to Calif. Even if it was water when it got there, that wouldn't be bad.

Nonetheless I think we all should be thinking about water conservation. I really want to work on some grey water re-use system. You pretty much named all the common things to conserve water. Drought tolerant plant varieties seems real important. Here's a little article about gardening in drought (though it mostly covers the same things):

https://asonomagarden.wordpress.com/2009 ... le-garden/

note it was from california, written in 2009. Their drought has only gotten worse since then.
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applestar
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

- Mulching definitely.
- Swales and contours to take advantage of the slope of the land for maximum catchment of every drop that does fall. CONTAIN and don't let rainwater leave your property (I still have to work on my front yard/lawn because water puddles on the sidewalk after rain which means my front lawn isn't retaining the water)
- think of all the rainwater that just flows down the driveway! I'd love to convert the concrete driveway to something else that will keep the water from going down the driveway to the street and down the storm drain.
- Plants along the base of fences, rocks, and other stationary objects in the garden get extra moisture from condensed dew dripping on them.
- rain garden (garden at base of rain gutter sprout) when not collecting in barrels
- planting appropriate plants according to the moisture retention of the microclimates on the property.

** but plants that depend on the extra moisture from the rain suffers when there is drought **

- Saving whatever water used in the house as mentioned, including things like produce and grain rinse water as well as not salting the pasta, etc, boil or steam-and-toss water and using the cooled water.
- Saving the air conditioning and dehumidifier condensation water.

...hmmm what else? 8) ...
(It's hard to think about drought when I'm hearing all the melting snow rushing down the drain spout... :wink: )
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rainbowgardener
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Since you mentioned water rushing down the driveway, here's one. We have a long downhill driveway that has lots of water rushing down it. We had one piece of it torn up and a drain installed. The drain goes across the drive and catches a lot of the water. From there it goes into a long pipe with holes in the bottom, that runs underground in the middle between my two long narrow flower beds. Eventually it exits and lets out whatever is left to go down the hill through my woodland shade native plants hillside.
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grrlgeek
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

We're here in the southern California high desert. It doesn't rain much to begin with, and it's rained only a couple times this winter, and only for an hour or so. Even if I could capture runoff, there might only be enough to water one time.

My house was originally a model home, and as such, had an insanely extensive landscaping and irrigation system. Virtually none of the plants could survive without watering daily. When I moved in five years ago and saw my first full-cycle water bill, I shut off the timer and waited a year. Anything that died, went away. I defoliated some shrubs and pruned the dead sticks and they make great natural trellises for my blackberries, now watered by drip.

I was buying boxes of 50 PVC caps at a time. Every plant had its own personal sprinkler head spewing gallons per minute. These days, even with increased watering for the veggie garden, my water bill is about $37 per month in summer, and $19 (the minimum usage fee) in winter. Before my "survival of the fittest" torture test, it was $140+ in summer, and the grass still looked terrible. I really like the native plants too. And even in the dead of winter, the rosemary blooms and is covered by bees every day. I had tried to kill the rosemary, and it persisted despite my efforts. Now seeing it as bee forage, I am so glad it made it through.

Nearly everything on the property is on drip irrigation now, except for two water-saving sprinkler heads in the shadiest corner of the front yard. Most of the grass is gone, replaced by a 500sf rock garden with yucca varieties now finally established, and this year, my new 100sf raised bed. (yes, it's in the front yard!). I am using two sections of the rock garden for a perennial herb/flower bed that I will let get a little wild and see what happens. The flowers chosen are all suited to the climate, and they will have to survive on drip like everyone else. I overseeded what was left of the grass (about 100sf) with white clover and Roman chamomile. I'll see how that fares as this year will be its first summer.

Every raised bed for veggies has drip line of some sort and it all runs off a timer from the eight main irrigation valves. I can't walk more than 6 feet on my property without arriving at an available riser. Our biggest challenge is ensuring enough drip lines are on the same circuit otherwise there's too much pressure and the valve doesn't want to close. Hubby has programs for every month of the year increasing and decreasing time and frequency as appropriate. It didn't all happen overnight, but the rock garden project of 2009-10 put us on the path to be more than ready to weather this drought.

applestar mentioned the A/C condensate drain - we have ours directed to provide its bounty to a large juniper that shades/sound dampens the condenser unit and the bedroom window on the west side of the house. I can't imagine what kind of funk is in that water, but it seems no worse for the wear.

We've had droughts before, so being water wise has become habit for us. Just little things like not running the water while brushing teeth has been ingrained since I was a small child. And with the heat of our summers, I instinctively look for the words "heat and drought tolerant" in every seed catalog listing.

And Mulch. Lots of Mulch!
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digitS'
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Image
Zuni Garden, from the Library of Congress, 1927 photograph

You can click the picture and see more images of Zuni gardening, past and present.

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grrlgeek
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

That is inspiring and it gave me a great design idea for the herb/perennial bed in my rock garden. Thanks for sharing the link!
Zone - USDA 8b / Sunset 11

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rainbowgardener
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Congratulations, great job of creating a water conserving garden grrlgeek! Show us some pictures, please

I do think people in drought prone areas just need to give up on traditional lawns. It's an idea that was invented in rainy/foggy England.
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SouthernStyle
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

No Till and Mulching

Also consider varieties that are drought tolerant like eggplant, okra, pole beans, jalapenos and some squashes.

I like wheat straw layered heavily around the plants as it reflects a little sun and works wonders for moisture retention.

-SS-

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Ozark Lady
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Hawaii in a drought just blows my mind!
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Gary350
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

It has not rained here in 9 months. A simple irrigation system works wonders. My garden gets 1 minute of water every day at sun down.

Image

About a month later garden looks like this.

Image

Then another month later it looks like this.

Image

Taiji
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Wow, that is such a cool irrigation system! I really need to devise something like that for myself. My garden has been kind of unorganized til now, but now that my raised beds are pretty permanently placed, I could make something like that too.
Questions:
Did you just drill holes in the PVC at certain intervals, or do you have little tubes coming out of the holes?
Do you have trouble with the plants nearer to the hose source getting more water than those at the end of the system?
Do the holes plug up eventually and need to be cleaned out?
Is one minute of water enough for the plants? When they get bigger do they need more?
Thanks for posting such great pictures with such great results!

imafan26
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

One minute irrigation and you got that. Those veggies look like they get a whole lot more. Do you use a lot of organic to hold the moisture. It doesn't look mulched from the picture.

I have reduced my lawn. I would not have any if I had my druthers but the HOA requires 50% lawn. I have Dwarf St Augustine and right now it is in heaven with the rain but I cut it back a few years ago to 5 minutes every 4 days and my water pressure is so bad that it doesn't even reach the whole lawn anymore. Some parts of the subsoil is much drier now, but the grass survives. Nobody's lawn look great when they are dormant in summer. I do aerate and topdress but I cut back on fertilizer. It made the grass grow too much.

I have drip on 4 of my six valves, I lost plants when I decreased from every day watering to every 4 days and I run them between 5-10 minutes depending on what it being watered. I have one faucet valve that I cut from 10 minutes to about 4 minutes now a day. It waters mostly potted plants. I also have other potted plants that need to be hand watered every 1-3 days depending on whether it rains enough or how windy it has been or how pot bound they are.

I have a hard time changing my growing mix. Since I have so many plants I use a drier mix. It means I have to water more in summer, but plants will not rot in the rain in winter that way. I literally have close to 1000 plants in pots. Over 300 are orchids. I have 14 citrus trees in pots, tomatoes in containers (3), eggplant, peppers, ginger, taro, strawberries, herbs, roses, and other things all in containers. Most because they are invasive or I need to contain or control roots and size.

My water bill is $30 for water, but the ceal crime are the base fees and sewer charges $70 and most of it is going in the yard not the sewer this time of the year. I used 3000 gallons = $100 last month. In summer my water usage climbs to 11K and my bill is closer to $200 and about 9K goes to the yard and I am still paying sewer charges for water that does not go down the drain.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Yeah, I can't argue with Gary, but apparently a lot of things work for Gary that wouldn't work for anyone else.

One minute of watering in AZ in unmulched sandy soil doesn't seem like nearly enough. And yes, in general plants do require a lot more water as they get bigger.

I take it Gary is growing those through AZ winter and doesn't try growing things in AZ summer, when it stays above 100 for weeks on end. In cooler, moist-er weather, plants don't loose water as fast.
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ReptileAddiction
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

I am conserving water by watering less often but watering deeper and much longer. It actually helps quite a bit. I also heavily mulch everything.

In a few years I am going to redo the whole front yard, gating the courtyard, new entryway to the front door, new pergolas. When I do this project my lawn size will decrease significantly. I will get rid of an entire lawn. This should also help the water pressure issue I have.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Good plan, RA! Do take before and after pictures. No one in the dry southwest should be having lawn at this point! I grew up in Southern Calif, before people had irrigation systems and I remember being out every morning in the summer watering the lawn.
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Gary350
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

The only time I ever water plants is new plants I buy at the garden store in spring they need water for a week or so until roots get established. After that I never water my garden. If you do not water the garden that forces plants to grow deep roots in search of water. When hot 100 degree weather arrives plants have a good root system for finding their own water. Same thing with planting seeds. Keep your eye on spring weather an wait for perfect planting conditions 65 degree soil with rain in the forecast, corn, beans, squash, melons, etc all grow a deep root system to if I never water them. Once you start watering plants they become dependent on it. We had a very hot dry summer this year with very little rain my plants suffered but they lived without me watering them. Tomatoes & other plants do very well planted on the East side of a tree or house with early morning sun the coolest part of the day then shade 11 am to dark the rest of the day. If there is no shade put up tarps so plants get morning sun then full shade the rest of the day. Very often in hot weather my plant leaves are hanging down as limp as a wet rag but come back to life when the sun goes down.

When I lived in Arizona where they get no rain for 6 months each time plants needed irrigation 10 minutes every evening at 9 pm. Winter garden was planted Nov 1st and plants got 1 pint of water per day. No shade needed in winter temperature never gets over 70 degrees F and low 50s at night. Feb frost & freeze kills the garden then 2 weeks later cold weather is gone time to plant a new garden that will be killed again by hot weather in June. No garden for several months 115 degree weather June to Oct.

For some reason everyone in Arizona believes you should only water the lawn early morning about 6 am for 1 hour. I watered my lawn 10 minutes every night at 9 pm and I had the perfect lawn. Neighbors noticed my yard sprinklers were never ON and asked me, what are you doing to have such a nice yard. I told them, nothing much I water after dark for about 10 minutes that is all I do. NO ONE believed that. WHY does a population of 5,000,000. people all believe you water early morning, how did that none sense get started and no one questions it they just do it and tell everyone else that is how it should be done. People should use their own brain stop and think a minute if you water 1 hr in the desert in very low humidity where water evaporates very fast and sun comes up at 5 am and its 100 degrees by 9 am & 114 by 11 am that 1 hour of water was wasted it evaporated before plants can use it. 10 minutes of water in the dark coolest part of the day works much better plants have 8 hours of dark to suck up very drop of that water. Learn to think outside the box.

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jal_ut
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Here in high dry Northern Utah a reservoir was built up the canyon and water is put into a canal which goes for 7 miles and the water is diverted into pipelines on the farms and rainbirds are used to spray the fields. I wanted to bring you a picture, but seems I am not smart enough. Anyone know how to display a picture on a post? Try again......Image

Arguah! Well I guess you can right click the image icon and ask it to open in a new tab?

Image
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imafan26
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

This year we actually got more than our usual rainfall, thanks to the storm of the week. In the past years, the Big Island had drought conditions for more than 3 years. As of November, 2018 we are ahead in total rainfall and are drought free.

This past summer was not as hot. Fewer days above 90 degrees, but with a lot of humidity. The summer storms meant that there was some rain every month. The heat does limit what will grow. That and disease has shortened my summer list of veggies. The tomatoes got TYLCV so now, I need to find resistant varieties. I can grow holy basil but not sweet basil and it actually tolerates the heat better. I am growing more tropical vegetables like yard long beans and chard since they produce better; have fewer disease problems, and tolerate heat better. Wild bitter melon is a weed in my yard. The citrus trees do need to be watered every 1-2 days because they are in pots, but otherwise the heat does not bother them. I usually plant throughout the year, but when it is a hot dry year, I harvest only June-August and start planting in September. It is actually still hot in September, but I need to plant broccoli in late summer so they will head up during the cooler weather.

I do have air conditioners but I have not used them in years. Even on hot nights, I only use the ceiling fans because it just costs to much to run them.

The gutter water does go into the rain barrels and I have connected rain barrels in tandem to increase storage. The thing with rain barrels is that you have excess water when you don't need it. One 55 gallon barrel will water my front yard once. Rain garden is an idea. Usually, if the rain comes down slowly, it gets absorbed well. Runoff is only a problem when the rain comes down hard and fast or has been continuous for weeks and has already saturated the soil.

I have had to turn off my sprinklers and it is survival of the fittest in the yard. Geraniums do well, in fact they do worse when there is too much rain since they get oedema and the stems can rot. The roses, most of the established trees and shrubs in the ground, and rosemary, are pretty drought tolerant. They can survive on very little extra watering. The worst thing of course has been the weeds, since they take over any bare ground. I have planted alyssum as a ground cover and that has helped since it does not need a lot of water. Although, I keep getting harassed by the HOA that does not like that the alyssum mounds onto the edge of the driveway. I don't feed the grass, since feeding it makes it grow and then I have to mow it more. It is a mix of dwarf St. Augustine grass and weeds and any water will set it off. When it does not rain for a while it gets quite yellow, but greens up fast with a good shower.

I am watering my garden less over all. I used to water it every day, but that can make the plants dependent on that next drink. So, I try to extend the time to a day and a half or two days when I can. Some plants can't but, sometimes it is because they need to be up potted. Up potting has helped some of the peppers in gallons that really needed to go up and I have a cutting celery that really needs to go in the ground already.

I tried soil polymers and while it worked fine in summer, I think. It was a mistake when the rains came and they just bubbled out of the soil and became a gelatinous smothering mess.

Plant spacing and deep but infrequent watering has helped the most. Mulching has also helped to keep a lot of the weeds down. I do have problems with mulch when I don't have the drip system on, since I seem to be spending a lot of time watering the mulch instead of the soil. Once the plants size up and shade the ground, they use proportionately less water than when the plants are small.
This is the drought monitor that indicates the regions of the US that are in drought or have varying degrees of dryness.
https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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jal_ut
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Imagegrdn223 by James_40 Lofthouse, on Flickr

We shall see?
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jal_ut
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Image

Well I got one to show up but another one won't . Arguah! I hate this software. :twisted:
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

There ain't no use........................ :(
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applestar
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

...it’s OK, I tracked down the image link :-()

Image
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jal_ut
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Thanks applestar, I was just trying to point out that in this high dry country, one does not grow a garden without irrigation. IOW you gotta add some water. I run that sprinkler line in the picture once a week for 12 hours. That puts down about 1.5 inches of rain on the area.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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Gary350
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Re: How do you grow vegetables with less water

Taiji wrote:Wow, that is such a cool irrigation system! I really need to devise something like that for myself. My garden has been kind of unorganized til now, but now that my raised beds are pretty permanently placed, I could make something like that too.
Questions:
Did you just drill holes in the PVC at certain intervals, or do you have little tubes coming out of the holes?
Do you have trouble with the plants nearer to the hose source getting more water than those at the end of the system?
Do the holes plug up eventually and need to be cleaned out?
Is one minute of water enough for the plants? When they get bigger do they need more?
Thanks for posting such great pictures with such great results!
The 1" PVC pipes had a 1/8" diameter hole drilled in them at each plant location. I pointed the holes straight down to make sure water stayed where i wanted it. I made a small soil levee around each plant. PVC pipes were connected to the water hose I turned the water faucet on the side of the house it took about 1 minutes to fill all the levees around the plants. Holes did get plugged up sometimes I learned to put a, stick, rock, board, or something under the PVC pipes to hold them up to keep holes from getting full of soil. Arizona soil in town is powdered rock it is like pouring water into a bowl of all purpose flour once it gets wet is stays wet. Desert soil 60 miles from town is completely different it is big sand, pour a 5 gallon bucket of water on the desert soil it is gone into the soil in seconds.

The yard had an automatic timer irrigation system that was all screwed up. Some plants got too much water while others got very little. I soon learned 2 liter sprayers from Lowe's turned on 15 minutes gave bushed and trees about 1 quart of water each. Front yard had a different type irrigation for grass it only needed to be on 10 minutes every night.

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