drought continues to plague california and our local irrigation district is now requiring 25% mandatory reduction in water use (compared to 2013 usage).
if you recall last year they were looking for 30% voluntary reduction. steps i took last year was to reduce turf watering - the lawn took a beating, but survived. front landscape plants made it ok (for the most part) - although i lost 3 or my flowering plums to borers - but the maples are doing fine. i reduced my orchard watering regime by 30% and i had no vegetable garden. we used 2014 as the year to line the garden beds with gopher wire.
2015 rolls in, the drought continues. how do i sync that with the need for fresh home grown tomatoes and maintain a 25% reduction in water usage?
well, only 4 tomatoes helps, and a few tweaks of the irrigation, the addition of coir and a thick mat of alfalfa is my hope to make watering the tomatoes a once or twice a week endeavor.
i have further reduced my orchard watering schedule. prior to the drought, my trees were getting roughly 48 gallons of water per tree per, per week. last year, i reduced it to 32 gallons of water per tree, per week. this year i am reducing it to 20 gallons of water per tree, per week. thats a pretty substantial drop. last years change had no noticeable impact, so i am hoping this further reduction is met with similar results. in el dorado county, water is gold, if i can keep some of that gold in my pocket - yay, for me.
my goal for my garden beds from the start was organic and the use of omri certified products if i needed to add anything. looking for something to improve water retention in the beds led me to coir - the outer husk of coconuts. suggested by Farmer Fred (http://farmerfred.com), i found coir at the Front Yard Nursery and it was omri certified. coir absorbs 9 times it weight in water, so the hope is it will help hold the water over a longer period than the soil in the bed - thus reducing my water needs.
to add even more protection, i have added a layer of alfalfa around the tomato, this should reduce evaporation and working with the coir - make water needs significantly less. like i said, my goal is to water twice a week - once a week is a stretch goal. in the center of the alfalfa chips (circled in red) is one of this years tomatoes. and those end of the season alfalfa chips will shred nicely right into the compost pile.
come mid august, we will see.....