With rains, do we plant a garden? Dec. 11, 2014

Author: Heather Hacking
First we’re supposed to be embarrassed if we have a lush, green lawn. Then the media (which includes me) encourages people not to grow vegetables and certainly not summer flowers.

Next it rains profusely, but we’re still in a drought.

Recently, the state came out with water use figures from October, and those water folks made a big fuss that Californians have slacked on their water conservation.

What does Gov. Brown expect me to do? Should I stop washing dishes? Is Gov. Brown taking showers?

At the same time, part of my job is to think about water, pretty much all the time. I attend those meetings where they explain how the aquifers are still lower than they should be. I know it takes time for water to percolate through the soil and refill those underground storage areas. I know a deluge of rain does not fill up the aquifers overnight.

Scientists are saying that unless it rains every day for months, it could be a couple of years until the state recovers from the past few years of drought.

I would feel like a hypocrite if the drought continues for another year and I took warm baths when I could have been saving water.

Yet, what about flowers?

Garden addiction

A few weeks ago I planted about 100 daffodils, some in pots and dozens in the ground. I feel pretty darn proud of myself right now. The rains came and my daffodils grew.

Now the first greenery is poking up from the soil.

However, if this is the last rain we see for months, would I really let those bulbs wither?

I know myself. I would slog saved water from the sink to the daffodils outside. That would mean less “saved water” to use to flush the toilet.

When I planted bulbs I also stuck some seeds at the top of the soil in the pots – kale and sweet alyssum. I could pretend this deed was sheer habit, but I was fairly conscious as I dug around in the shed and found some leftover seed packets.

A gardener who has unplanted bulbs is like an alcoholic who has booze hidden in the house. Sooner or later, those bulbs or booze are going to be used.

The way I’m justifying the daffodils is that I’m an optimist. I think we’re going to all be OK. I think we’re going to get enough rain this winter that my bulbs will grow.

If the drought persists I’ll assess my personal ethics and hopefully become a better person.

Rain barrel alternatives

We’ve been joking about alternative ways to capture rainwater.

For dirt cheap, we could collect dilapidated hot tubs and leave them out in the yard. The Mosquito Control District will gladly give us some mosquito fish. From now until summer we could float plastic ducks in the putrid water and lure neighborhood children for a carnival-style ring toss game.

How much water would be captured? If we’re lucky, 18-21 inches. That’s the amount of rainfall the Department of Water Resources recently predicted we would need before we can declare that we’ve left the drought behind.

Good weeding

Meanwhile the rains have brought an opportunity to scratch my gardening itch. We sat up late Wednesday night listening to the rain.

With soggy soil, I can easily yank the remainder of the mallow weeds.

If there weren’t so many stories to write about storm drains and power outages, I would take the day off to get some mud under my fingernails.

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