We all love a nice garden with colorful flowers and a green lawn, but it’s easy to waste lots of water in the garden. My husband almost became obsessed trying to figure out how best to keep our garden fresh without over watering. With a few changes, anyone can still grow beautiful flowers, grass and vegetables without wasting water.
- Outfit your water hose with an adjustable spray nozzle so you can use as much or as little water as you need.
- Don’t use your water hose to sweep the driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom instead.
- Water hoses are notorious for leaking at the connections. Therefore, when finished using the hose, shut off the water at the spigot rather than at the hose nozzle.
- Don’t leave hoses or sprinklers unattended. Garden hoses can waste hundreds of gallons of water in just a few hours.
- Sprinkle only when your lawn shows signs of needing it. Over-watering is bad for plants and lawns. It promotes shallow root growth and reduces hardiness. To determine whether or not the lawn needs watering, walk across the grass. If you leave footprints, it’s time to sprinkle.
- Turn off the sprinkler system if a storm comes up. A heavy rain means you don’t have to sprinkle at all.
- Use a sprinkler that throws large drops of water rather than a fine mist. That will reduce water losses from wind drift and evaporation.
- Locate your sprinkler heads so only the lawn is watered, not the house, sidewalk, or street.
- To minimize evaporation, water your lawn during cooler parts of the day. Very early morning is best. To reduce the impact of lawn sprinkling on your water utility bill, avoid the hours of peak water consumption, usually from 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., and from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Cease sprinkling your lawn before water runs into the street. Use a kitchen timer to remind you when to turn off the sprinkler system. Better yet, install automatic sprinkler controls.
- Never let the lawn sprinkler run all day.
Grow your own goods, even in a small space. Tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and strawberries fair well when grown in a pot. As long as they receive sunlight they will grow. Kids loves growing food and gardening, and it’s a great way to teach children how foods end up on our plates. Always buy organic plants and soil from a local garden nursery. If using seeds try to use heirlooms, which can be found at:http://www.anniesheirloomseeds.com
There many good reasons for going out of your way to plant heirloom seeds. Heirloom plants are grown using open pollination, which is natural pollination by permitting insects, birds or air currents to carry the seeds. Growing plants in this way enables diversity to enter the genetic code of the plants. Many heirloom crops have been handed down generation-to-generation, but the result is a more genetically diverse crop than crops pollinated by hand. There is some debate as to the age a cultivar needs to be in order to be considered an heirloom plant, but there are no strict definitions. Most people consider stocks 50 years old or older to be heirloom crops. Heirloom plants are never genetically modified. They are grown organically and allowed to evolve on their own.
Lately there has been an upsurge in the popularity of heirloom gardening. What are some of the reasons that people enjoy heirloom gardening? What are the benefits of heirloom seeds and the diverse plants they produce?
- Historical interest. Since many heirloom stocks are over a century old, growing them gives us a glimpse into the lives and dinner tables of our ancestors.
- Curiosity. You’ve probably eaten enough mass produced apples to be used to them. Aren’t you curious about how all those other apples taste?
- Preservation of the gene pool and resistance to disease. The Irish potato famine of the 19th century wasn’t caused by blight only; it was also caused by a lack of genetic diversity. It might have been preventable had the Irish farmers cultivated heirloom potatoes. Instead, they grew one particular variety of potato only. When the blight came, it wiped out their entire crop. If the potatoes had had more genetic diversity, some of them might have been resistant to disease and survived the blight, which might have saved millions of lives from famine and displacement. If we do not preserve heirloom plants and allow natural pollination and mutations to give us genetically diverse foods, we could find ourselves in a similar position worldwide someday. Not only that, but eating heirloom plants preserves our own ability to adapt and survive. If we forget how to eat diverse foods, we may eventually lose this ability.
- Organic and nutritional. Heirloom plants are grown organically. No chemicals or genetic engineering interferes with nature’s designs. Since genetic diversity is preserved in heirloom plants, heirloom seeds not only can produce disease-resistant crops, but crops with greater nutritional variety. You may be able to get nutrients from heirloom plants that you couldn’t get from mass-produced plants.
Heirloom plants are the passion of many organic gardeners these days and for great reasons: they are steeped in historical tradition, resistant to disease, nutritional and fully organic, and they preserve genetic diversity for the generations to come.