No Garden Next Year?

The days are getting cooler and the nights are finally cold enough to put the duvet on the bed. Jackets have been dusted off and it’s time to switch from the Chacos to the Muck Boots. Now if I could just find my slippers…

We’re still waiting for rain. As the days wear on and the end of the year quickly approaches we’re being reminded that we’ve gotten less than an inch of rain so far. 2013 has only gotten 50% of what the last record driest year got. You read that correctly. We have gotten LESS than 50% of the rain that the previous driest year on record.

Our golden hills are not golden, but brown – the color of the dirt beneath what should be fields of dry golden grass. The hills are barely covered with more than a few wisps of dead grass. The parched, cracked soil beneath is clearly visible. There is a fear of heavy rains causing mudslides since there isn’t anything holding the soil together. But as it stands, heavy rain is just a pipe dream.

Surprisingly (or maybe it’s not) this is not news. The media has yet to say a word about this severe drought happening in a state that gets nearly all of it’s rain this time of year. A state that provides 80% of the country’s fruits and vegetables and nearly 100% of the country’s almond supply is looking at not having enough water is somehow not worthy of discussion. It’s being ignored even to the point where we don’t even have to ration water yet, even though many of our reservoirs are at less than 30% capacity. It is appalling.

If the rains don’t materialize this spring we may have to make some changes. There may be no garden this coming year. It’s a scary thought to have to skip growing our own food because we won’t have access to enough water. Some people have recommended dry farming, however, even dry farming relies on normal winter rains to be able to work. Rainwater collection is also clearly off the table if we don’t get any rain. Greywater is a possibility, but illegal in my area. Our well has salt water intrusion, which is more than likely even worse this year with the drought as the thousands of acres of vineyards “upstream” haven’t slowed down on their pumping of the aquifer. I’ve heard ollas may work with salty water, but I hesitate to pull more water out of the ground. Not to mention for a garden our size, they would be cost prohibitive. I’m not sure where that leaves us besides foregoing the garden until the rains return.

For now, all I can do is hope that the Rossby Waves shift and bring us some late winter and early spring storms.

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  1. I can’t believe we haven’t seen anything on the news about this yet. I’m in the midst of searching for a new job and living in an area that receives adequate rainfall is high on my list of priorities. Washington and Oregon are definitely appealing. What do you think it would take for you to consider moving to greener pastures?

    • I have to keep my job and since no one is hiring I’m stuck. Plus I really like the company I work for and loathe to even think about working somewhere else.

    • Hi there! I live in WA, ran here from CA over 20 years ago. There are many things I could tell you about our weather, but will pass on the first little tie bit. If you come here, get a ‘happy’ light, one of those lights to help reduce the symptoms of SADD. The dark can get to anyone, and there is a lot of it in the winter. But in the summer, it’s incredible, and yes green. Good luck down there, I hope this drought breaks, It to have family down there.

  2. Milt Stone says:

    Use your greywater. I use mine. So what if it’s illegal? No one will no the difference .

    • Yes, gray water! I imagine you’ll still be washing dishes, taking showers, and doing loads of laundry through the drought. Why not put that water to good use? We don’t have the skills or means to install a legit system, but we still pipe out our washing machine water and use it to fill our empty rain barrels.

  3. Does anyone police the use of grey water? I guess if your vege gardens are flourishing when others are not, it might tip someone off to call the authorities, but maybe a fresh produce bribe might work?!

    Sending some moderate-levels of evenly placed rainfall vibes your way…

  4. Have you thought about an aquaponics system? Yes, the set up wold be quite an endeavor but it does use far less water than conventional gardening.

    • We have, but it’s just one more big project and another thing we have to take care of that I’m not sure we have time for. The garden pretty much takes care of itself after planting, so it’s not an equal switch.

  5. Jennifer Turner says:

    Hi Rachel -

    I would use the gray water as well. Ollas can be made using regular clay pots, corks & clay saucers for a “lid” if you don’t want to fuse 2 pots together using adhesive. That is going to be my plan.

    You can get the pots at the $1.00 store, corks can be fairly cheap in bulk & the saucers would be the biggest expense. I figure, it’s worth a try.

    I’m to the point, that I am praying for rain. We had the one day in October, one day in November & one day in December. January’s forecast looks like there will be one day for this month too. I have lived in California all my life & never remember it like this.


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