Ewen's garden

A collection of columns, paintings and photographs about gardening on an offshore island in New Zealand.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Watering problem

Warm winds and sunny days soon dry out our soils, leaving gaping cracks in the ground and plants wilting. Dwindling water supplies at this time of year and the threat of a dry summer, I wonder just how my garden will survive. The news in the last week has been full of the problems our planet will face if we don’t, as a species, fully grasp the ideas of sustainability. They tell us global warming is now really a fact and we must take measures now if we are to avoid another “thirties” style depression. Sustainability seems to be the byword these days, so I feel a little nervous when there is mention of reticulating services on Waiheke. If only more places were like Waiheke, where we catch our own water and process our own waste (or partially process our waste, as at present pumped out septic waste is shipped to Auckland!?). After the great depression of the thirties, the “quarter acre pavlova paradise” was set up. State housing and a back yard for everyone, no one need go hungry again. What has happened? Water and septic reticulation mean properties can be subdivided and more people to the acre supported and property prices go up. Many on Waiheke still have their won vegetable patch and grow fruit trees, a hang over from the days when the ferry service was not as regular and the shops as plentiful. My own patch is only small but in two years I have managed without buying water, admittedly we are only two in the house hold and I let the vegetable patch go over the summer. This year though I hope for better success with the use of pea straw mulch to hold in the moisture and stop the soil temperature from becoming too hot. So for some of the year I have the pleasure of harvesting my own produce, in the knowledge that it has been organically grown and the taste is so far superior to the shop bought produce. As for the rest of the garden plants are selected for the fitness to the environment in which they have been planted, this means they will get no water from me, so if they survive then they will stay. I wet subtropicals over the septic field and arid loving plants from places like the Mediterranean, South Africa, Mexico and New Zealand in other parts. So far the idea is working but plants still need a little bit of nurture in their first year or so. To this end I collect the water from the kitchen sink for those in desperate need.
I certainly don’t know what the answers to all these problems are, but certainly there are some things we can do and should do personally. I realise not every one is fortunate enough to have access to a piece of land but those who do, it seems a pity not at least grow something that is of use to us.
Don’t forget the Garden Safari next weekend, I am looking forward to this event naturally enough and hope the weather is kind to us!


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