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Re: piped in water

  • Subject: [cg] Re: piped in water
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2006 19:59:44 -0800 (PST)

Hi, all,

Great discussion, that's what this list is all about.

I'm for piped water, but with rainwater harvesting
whenever possible - I mean, really looking for ways to
make it work. Primitive systems that I've seen don't
work, don't get used, and breed mosquitos. But I've
also seen some good ones, too, and research and
creative design, like Lenny's and Dan Winterbottom's
in Seattle, are very important and worthwhile.

From the plant's point of view, veggies need - rule of
thumb - an inch of water per week for optimum
production during much of the growing season. That
water needs to be available at the right time, too. 3
inches of rain in 2 days followed by a 3 week drought
doesn't cut it. By far the most practical way to get
reliable water is through piped-in water, from a well,
pond or (in the city and the 'burbs) muni water.

Water for growing food makes a lot more sense than
water for washing cars or growing lawns. I don't feel
guilty watering my 'maters.

That said, conserving water is very important. Hand
watering is very reasonable, so are trickle irrigation
systems _when set up and managed properly_. Mulching
and building soil water-holding capacity can help.
These steps can be done without big buck investments.
btw, most sprinkler systems and 'spaghetti tube' drip
systems are probably not the best choice, in my book,
for community gardens - but I've seen well-meaning
funders spend beaucoup to install these (gardeners
quickly find ways to subvert them).

Of course, if it rains, you don't have to water. Every
garden needs a rain gage.

At the same time, rainwater harvesting, from rooftops
especially, can be an excellent supplement to any
system. Here, you bet mosquitos can be a problem, but
it's solvable. Rain is great for plants (even contains
some N after thunderstorms), and rainwater harvesting
slows the rush of water off impervious surfaces, like
natural ponds and tree canopies used to do. As we
slowly release water into the soil when we water, it
moves gently through the ecosystem, instead of in a
damaging storm rush that wipes out natural streams
(after picking up pollution from roadways).

So, yeah, rain harvesting is great - but I'd still
start with reliable water, even if it means the
municipal kind, chlorinated and all.

Don B
Charlotte, NC

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