Showering with a bucket

This whole water crisis has caught a lot of people off-guard. I can’t help but notice the plants in my yard looked dead and lifeless. Yet, it’s winter. I just normally don’t notice.

We had those weeks with bitter cold. Some plants died. Which ones?

How can you tell if something is dead from lack of rain, frozen by cold or merely sleeping?

Just when I started thinking about watering the yard in winter, the governor comes out with a drought proclamation.

He asked every person in California to use less water.

Could that also, possibly, include me?

Darn it. Yes, he also means me.

Luckily, my medium-term plan is to move to a new house. That makes it fairly easy to cut back on watering and simply water the few plants I plan to take with me.

More indoor fun with less water

Saving water indoors has actually been fun. A five-gallon bucket was placed in the bathtub. While the water for a shower is warming up, the bucket fills about halfway, and a little more after a scrub and spritz ritual.

When I haul the bucket outdoors I burn a few calories and feel better about saving my drought- tormented plants.

But what about people who have fruit trees? I hear that farmers are watering their orchards about once a week, just to keep the trees alive.

What should someone do if they want fruit from their backyard?

Is it too late? Will folks be fruitless this year? Is it too late to bring the water from the shower to the pear tree?

Joe Connell, our county’s farm adviser, said assuredly that it’s not too late. While it hasn’t rained much, plants don’t need as much water as they do when it really warms up.

“In home yards, I’d want to have at least a foot of moist soil before fruit trees start to bloom and leaf out,” Joe said.

“Then we can wait to see if it rains any more before we start the irrigation season.

“Sacrificing landscape and fruit trees by not watering them is probably not warranted in the Chico area. If someone is concerned about the drought, saving lawn watering is probably a better course of action. Maybe converting lawns to lower water requiring plantings will also save on mowing,” he added.

Easy water saving

The state has a website at, with fairly basic outdoor water saving tips.

Of note is that we use far more water outdoors than inside.

Water early in the morning or late in the evening.

Check sprinklers for overflow.

Use water-efficient irrigation, including a drip system.

Mulch, mulch and more mulch.

Plant drought-resistant plants.

Clean cars are not trendy

When my family travels to Mexico, we often wait for hours to cross the border into the United States.

People knock on your window to offer a wash with a dirty rag and a squirt bottle.

The cars look pretty darn good after a brisk, mostly-dry scrub.

With a hose, washing the car uses 30-100 gallons of water. But if you run out there with a dry towel right after a rain, you can scrub off the dust without a drop from the hose.

I’m guessing driving dirty cars will be a new symbol of water consciousness. With my habit of never washing my car, I’ll be a trend-setter.

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