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SHARING SECRETS: Done Any Water Saving Recently?

Edited by Cathy Tylka, for Let’s Talk Plants! September 2022.

Wix stock photo.

This month’s Question:

We need water for our plants and flowers. However, sometimes, we have to let something go and promote the items that will easily grow. Have you done any water saving recently that you can share? Have you let a plant go or introduced something new to your garden?


Lili Walsh contributes…

... We have a large kitchen sink and we used to just let water run to rinse and wash dishes. I remembered my mother using two plastic basins for the dishes, so now we wash in one, rinse in the other and when we are finished, we toss our water into our plants. They are happy and we reuse the water.


Ida Rigby responds…

Established Toyon and Turk’s Cap provide a niche for St. Francis and shade for a bench.

Small garden vignette. herb and portulaca rock garden.

... This summer with no May Gray nor June Gloom and the undeniable difference between just last year and this (unremitting heat rather than some hot spells), I have changed my approach from "tough love" to "ruthless." This summer I am not teasing out just one more squash, or one more any vegetable. (Today Nan Sterman’s column showed a scrappy zucchini being lovingly tended; I feel guilty, but no more water to eke out one more veggie.) I am also not allowing myself any impulse buys at the wrong season and have let the three struggling plants I planted in June die. I knew full well that it was not the time to plant them. Other years I would have nursed along impulse purchases. I will now think more actively about that first-year watering it takes to get even natives established. I hope others have sent in less Draconian solutions from which I can learn. I am resolved to see what IS in the garden. The garden is basically northern and southern Mediterranean latitude plants, so the long-established trees and shrubs are thriving. The thirty-year-old pomegranates, Engelmann oaks, pineapple guavas, chitalpas and Palo Verdes create a park-like environment and provide shade. Established natives like the Toyons and Turk’s caps offer shady nooks for benches. I can focus on more small vignettes, like my herb and portulaca rock garden. I am thinking about adding more garden art. The next step is developing a long term, realistic and restrained planting program for the fall.


Mark Freeman gives us this answer…

... I have drip irrigation for my two fruit trees, apricot and fig, and my drought tolerant plants are on their own - they thrive or I don't keep them and I replace them with something that will live and thrive in our climate changing environment.


Linda Canada, of 92122, shares…

... I have two cats and when I change the water in their dishes, I now use the "old" water on my potted plants outdoors. It’s a few extra steps out to my backyard, but worth the effort.


Janis Hendricks replied…

... We keep a 3-gallon waste can in our shower to catch the warming up water. We never have to use tap water with two active retirees showering.


Ava Torre Bueno of 92105...

Planting the rain is from Brad Lancaster .

... Planting the rain is from Brad Lancaster

He was a speaker at the SDHS many years ago.


Andrea Wagman-Christian reports…

... We are serious horticulturists. We also have one of the oldest Interior Plant scaping companies in San Diego since 1979. My husband has become a self-taught Drip Irrigation Specialist and we have cultivated our whole canyon property in South Park since 1986. Our water bill is quite high so we are using more native wildflower seeds that reseed themselves. We like to try to grow some of our own food and fruit trees that require a lot of water. We have some vegetable raised growing spaces that use a ton of water and in between we are trying for more succulents and natives. We still cringe at our water bill and it's not going down anytime soon.


Sharon Reeve shares...

... I wash my dishes in a dish pan with Dr. Bronner's soap and throw the water on the plants.


Janet Ward of 91902 shared…

... We had some repairs done to the outside of our house recently, and in the process an old patch of Agapanthus, Lily of the Nile, was demolished. It was about a 10’ by 5’ area and it is right by the back door entrance to our backyard, so I want it to look pretty all year long. I already have some Dianella, Lomandra, Rosemary and Lavender nearby so I am thinking that I will probably go with more of those to fill in the space, and sprinkle in some succulents for accents. Agapanthus is not the thirstiest plant there is, but it’s not that drought tolerant either. I think the others will be a better choice.


Next month’s question is:

It’s really warm in Southern California right now. What do you do to “beat the heat”? Do you wear protective clothing? What time of day do you garden? Water? When do you harvest your crops or fruit?

Are you being good to yourself as well as your garden?

And just to let you know, I encourage you to send me secrets to be shared…

xo Cathy Tylka


Cathy Tylka, RN, retired Emergency Nurse, found her love of plants and the SDHS merge many years ago. Cathy acted as Treasurer for the organization and volunteer for many activities. Now, more than happy to assist in gathering questions to ask you in the Sharing Secrets area of the Newsletter.


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