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  • Watering in a drought

    In my area we could be facing severe water issues if we don't get rain next year, and if we don't cut back now. I've decided to not have a large veg garden this year. Then there are all the perennial plants in pots - the figs and blueberries. So what's an avid gardener to do?

    These are a few things I've done this year.
    - gave away a good number of undesirable or redundant plants.
    - keep plants smaller than usual
    - apply less fertilizer (though I did just add some to the figs, and blueberries always get some)
    - repotted most container plants into a more water-retaining mix (before spring)
    - when I water, apply less water per plant. Plants don't seem to be noticing.
    - Put saucers both store-bought and homemade under potted plants where possible to catch any extra
    - remove all weeds
    - mulch deeply

    I'm going for survival and relative good health rather than the most growth possible. Any other suggestions you might have?
    SoCal, zone 10.
    www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends. http://www.ourfigs.com/core/images/smilies/smile.png

  • #2
    There are several products out there which absorb water, holding it for the plants to use at a later time and keeping the pot moist. One of them is "Terasorb"....

    I've been using it for years in containers with tall bearded iris...like a charm. The problem is...it should be mixed in with the "soil" prefrrably toward the bottom of the pot.....The material turns to a jelly like cube..and the plants root right through it. a tablespoon swells to a cup+
    Ross B. Santa Rosa Calif zone 9b, wish list: CdD Blanc, Igo, Palmata, Sucrette, Morroco, Galicia Negra


    • Gina
      Gina commented
      Editing a comment
      Good idea.. but it's too late for me this year. I'll look into that for future repotting. Even if we get good rain next year, it will take a few years to get out of this drought.

  • #3
    I see YouTube video using material inside adult or baby diaper for retaining water In potted or grounded plants. Is not toxic. YouTube diaper for garden. Look cheap and effective.
    I hope you are well! Good night
    Zone 5 Chicago IL Wish list:
    1) Rest peacfully Amico Bello Buddy 👼🏼.
    2) This weeks ebay auctions.


    • #4
      Can you give me an example of a water retaining mixture? Im in Ca too with tons of figs in pots.


      • Gina
        Gina commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm not familiar with the various commercial mixes, but usually peat moss is water retentive so you can add that. Also mixes with less aeration. I've been adding compost to mine as well.

      • rusty hooks
        rusty hooks commented
        Editing a comment
        Terrasorb is one material...hydrogel

    • #5
      Looks like I may not have any water at all to do anything with the way California's Drought is looking.... On a bright note... These idiot Politicians and Corporate Thugs have realized they can't muscle the Water Resource anymore and Desalination plants are under heavy development right now.... San Diego has 1 Billion dollar plant being built right now..... You know for a State that is facing a drought and rising sea levels, one can only wonder how we haven't used the the overly abundant vast Ocean cutting through all the red tape and government restrictions, they literally waited until almost the very last drop was gone.

      “ Americans will always do the right thing… after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.” — Winston Churchill
      Last edited by Claymango; 04-15-2015, 11:50 PM.


      • noss
        noss commented
        Editing a comment
        Don't you realize that politicians only lock the barn door AFTER the horse has been stolen?

        They could kill two birds with one stone with the desalinization plants--Water to use and sucking up all the excess water "they" say is making the seas rise due to ice melts.

    • #6
      Be careful using the Absorbant Gelling Material (AGM) in diapers. It is a carcinogen. I worked for a diaper manufacturer and we had very strict handling procedures when working with it. The process where it was added to the diapers was sealed and any entrance required a respirator... not something I would want to add to my soil.

      Gina have you thought about diverting your grey water? Depending on soaps you use, it may be safe to use shower and sink water...
      Youtube: PA Figs eBay: tdepoala
      Wishlist: Galicia Negra, Paritjal Rimada, Black Ischia UCD


      • drphil69
        drphil69 commented
        Editing a comment
        It's only carcinogenic when dust is inhaled - its actually the particle size that causes the carcinogenic behaviour, not the AGM itself. Not a concern unless you work in the plant where it is made, in that high dust area.

    • #7
      I was also thinking to put my grey water to use. I think a manual switch and new piping and a water distribution must be installed but that is a very good idea for the inground plants. I am not sure how to design it for the containers since they do not fully drain and a contamination is inevitable over time if the water is not properly filtered.
      USDA z 10a, SoCal. WL: Boysenberry Blush


      • #8
        I use gray water, but mostly for in-house uses. Mainly flushing toilets. If the water is relatively soap/detergent free, I'll dump a bucket or two on the peach tree near the door.

        Depending on how long this lasts, I'll look into a better system then having to carry buckets of water around.

        I have collected some rain water, and I use a submersible pond pump to help distribute that. Could probably do the same with gray water from the washing machine - but have to figure a safe (non leaking) way to get it outside. In the summer, outside baths might be an option.

        edit: I also divert rainwater into an old in-ground spa. It holds about 300 gallons. Perhaps that's where I could divert some gray water. There are water hyacinths in there now and those perhaps might help remove something, but I don't know for sure. They are used in some water treatments.
        Last edited by Gina; 04-16-2015, 02:12 AM.
        SoCal, zone 10.
        www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends. http://www.ourfigs.com/core/images/smilies/smile.png


        • #9
          Do any of you add Turface to your soil recipe? I add it to a modified 5-1-1-1 mix that I use. I found it to also add a little weight to the pots, which helps with tipping. The product I use is called Turface MVP. It was difficult to track down but an Agway was able to get it for me. Check out Tapla's threads on the other sight for a better information. I originally purchased it for making gritty mix for citrus trees, but I now use it in every batch of soil I make. Glad I bought extra. Approx. 25 bucks a bag.


          • #10
            Good luck Gina. It stinks that you need to make trade-offs or decisions, but I guess that's a theme in all aspects of life. Vacation or Staycation? Eat out, eat in? When I read you chose to have a smaller veg garden I wondered what I'd do in these circumstances. I love gardening veggies...a lot. As well as figs.
            Arne - Northern NJ - Zone 6A


            • #11
              That old spa reservoir and any other tub reservoir you come up with should help greatly with the pots.

              For anything in-ground, a swale system, whether mulched or hugelkultured would be key.

              A glance at hugelkultur swales is revealing.

              And for greening the desert, growing figs in the desert, take a look at even the first several minutes of the Lawton video, Permaculture Greening The Desert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzTHjlueqFI
              Last edited by mountainfigs; 04-16-2015, 09:28 AM.
              Tony WV 6b


              • #12
                Remember the last one...1976

                Herb Caen......."Pinot Poodo".....

                it all helps
                Ross B. Santa Rosa Calif zone 9b, wish list: CdD Blanc, Igo, Palmata, Sucrette, Morroco, Galicia Negra