Drought Distress

santa barbara drought

When the water company sends a letter informing residents that if the lack of rain persists, come mid-July the town will run out of water, it kind of puts a damper on enjoying this glorious weather.

Ever since that warning hit my mailbox I’ve been doing research, collecting tips for drought tolerant gardening. I was planning on sharing a recipe here today, but this feels like more important information to share (did you buy that cover? I’m a little behind on recipe inspiration at the moment…and this is timely information for the California contingency).


Step 1: Stock-up on these babies.

Some tips (thank you, Save Our H2O, Sunset and Pat Welsh):

Check your sprinklers and make sure they are sprinkling your plants, rather than pathways or house.

Mulch like crazy – keeps the soil cool and reduces evaporation. It also improves soil and prevents weeds.

mulch in drought

Plant drought resistant trees and plants.

drought tolerant garden

Sedum is great because it’s a succulent that adds a pop of color.

astro turf pool

When we first moved in I wasn’t sold on the astroturf around the pool, now I think it’s brilliant!!!

Prioritize: Save your larger/older species shrubs and vines that add charm to your garden. New plantings and grasses can easily be replaced.

older plants

Drip systems are terrific and can be buried for deep watering, which translates to less watering.

drip system

My years of Catholic upbringing are showing. Now, I’m feeling guilty about the drought and not having a recipe ready — we made our favorite lentil tacos this weekend served with naked guacamole, do these links to recipes count for anything?

potted succulent

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12 thoughts on “Drought Distress”

Great reminders, Val. Thanks for spreading the word.

We had two free truckloads of the most gorgeous smelling mulch delivered on Friday and spent the weekend putting it around the yard. I could barely walk by Sunday, haha, but it was worth it:). Call any tree company and they’ll gladly deliver their mulch to you for FREE rather than pay to dump it at the transfer station.

Now, can you give us a more lovely way to store grey water from the sink than in a big plastic bucket on the counter? We’re using this water for our newly planted babies:).

I’m glad you are drinking wine to save water! Should help wth the dance moves, too.

I also have had free mulch deliveries from a local tree trimmer so I am set on mulch. I’ve been planting drought tolerant for years but even my drought tolerant plants are looking ragged and shriveled. I like the suggestion of watering the established shrubs more. I’ve been focusing on my fruit trees which are all relatively young. Most of our drip irrigation was destroyed by our puppy (that’s another story!) so I am selectively hand watering.

I have buckets in the shower and kitchen sinks that catch as much water as we can. I try to “rinse” dishes before I put them in the dishwasher with a wet sponge instead of running water. We’ve shortened our showers. I feel good about the changes we’ve made but I just really want some rain!

Thanks for some great tips…I was just stressing over the idea of planting any veggies this year – I’d planned a garden overhaul to be more food friendly, but it seems this isn’t to be the year.

My Meyer lemon is already stressed and the lemons are shriveling from lack of ground water, so I’m dumping grey water on it.

I’m using my canning pot in the kitchen sink for anytime the water runs or to rinse dishes. I got a free bucket from the bakery section at the grocery store that icing gets delivered in – I leave that in the shower to catch water as it warms/overflows when showering.

I feel the guilt when I see the salmon can’t spawn because the rivers don’t reach the ocean and the streams are so low….it’s making me feel like I can’t plant, but on the other hand…I sure want!

Hi Maria,
Ugh! Such a bummer about your Meyer. If it’s an established tree you might want to see if it’s the lack of water that’s the problem or if it’s actually diseased. Thank you so much for your comments and concerns.

Hi Valerie,

Wonderful to read about “Growing the Good Life” in Sunset this month. Congratulations! As a longtime subscriber I most enjoy reading about our SB area.

Drought is going to be our big challenge in the months/years to come! Several months ago we moved our washer and dryer and I had to do a load of laundry before the washer plumbing was finished so I directed the grey water from the washer into our big trash can. I was shocked and amazed to see the can was nearly filled after just the wash cycle. I emptied the can with a bucket putting the grey water on the fruit trees. I use biodegradable soap and read it is okay on trees and landscape but not edible garden plants.

Last week when we received the notice from the Monticeto Water District I knew I had to get serious about water conservation if I’m going to save my trees and old favorite plants. The washer was my first thought. My wife started shopping for a water saving washer and I came up with a short term plan to collect the grey water in the trash can and siphon it with a hose out to the trees. Today after some experimenting I got it working. It is just temporary, I hope, and it takes a little more effort but I was smiling when it worked. I just wanted to share this with you and your local fans.

Thank you and I’ll be looking froward to reading Eat Drink Garden.


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