Edible Gardens in the California Drought

Updated: June 2015

The California drought has burst into the headlines…

…as Governor Jerry Brown announced new restrictions on water usage for 2015. Proponents of water conservation in California call attention to the greater issue of national water mismanagement. Many have reacted by pointing fingers at big-ag farms as the greediest offenders.

The truth: it’s conservatively estimated that US lawns take up 40.5 million acres and annually use over 4x more water than alfalfa, the second highest consumer of water. This makes turf the largest crop in America and consumer of more water than the other top 7 crops combined. According to the EPA, landscaped irrigation like grass consists of about ⅓ of residential water consumption. The typical lawn consumes 10,000 gallons of water per year beyond rainfall.

So what are we saying here?

Your lawn uses an exorbitant amount of resources – and you can’t even eat it!

The vegetable garden is one of the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly choices for drought sensitive locales like Southern California. Organic fruit and vegetable gardens, like those installed by California Farm and Garden, allow for increased flexibility, stability and efficiency compared to lawns.

How do we maintain a lush fruit and vegetable garden with water conservation in mind?

First, we assess the current irrigation system, making sure plants aren’t over-watered or watered during rain. It’s also important to check that irrigation systems feed specific plants and don’t waste water on dead space or sidewalks. California Farm and Garden uses drip and low-ground irrigation systems. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, overhead sprinklers water effectively about 50% of the time, whereas drip irrigation, zeroed in on its target plants, is effective nearly 100% of the time. In fact, current California laws restrict outside irrigation for new construction unless it’s delivered by drip irrigation.

Although the latest 2-day mandatory restrictions do not apply to drip and micro irrigation, adjusting the watering schedule is key. We recommend watering between dusk and dawn to avoid that pesky evaporation from the strong California sun.

Lastly, soil health can drastically reduce watering needs and is another California Farm and Garden specialty! Adding a proprietary blend of organic amendments, compost and mulch will help the soil stay healthy and retain moisture. This keeps weeds at bay, further avoiding wasting water on unnecessary and thirsty plants.

California Farm and Garden takes the guesswork out of gardening and is committed to reducing the impact of the California drought. For further advice and consultation on your drought management, please contact us at 619-563-5771.