Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Water matters

We've just had some very welcome rain here in the Cape. From now on every shower is a blessing because soon we will reach summer and three months of possibly no rain at all with a dry month or more added on, depending how kind the rain Gods are!
For the veggie patch, herb garden and the olive trees I have water tanks which give me 4000 litres of rainwater. This just about sees me through the dry season. I'm hoping to add another tank in the future, depending on how kind the money Gods are!

It can be quite a struggle to ensure that the garden doesn't die off as it did in the severe drought we had a few years ago. In fact the herb garden has never really recovered and I am trying to establish a secure microclimate by planting hardy shrubs like Artemisia afra around which I can establish softer herbs. This is a work in progress.

All around the garden are bird baths (often used by the dogs on a hot day, returning from a walk!) It's lovely to see the birds enjoying the water on a hot summer day and there are many birds that love the herb garden because it is lush and shady, with plenty to eat as they either share the chickens food or help themselves to fruit or even, in the case of mousebirds, eat spinach.
Under the dripping geyser overflow from the roof there is a water feature which at present houses some very fat tadpoles! The chickens like this water and make a beeline for it when they leave the coop in the mornings.

In one section of the garden is a fish pond which attracts dragon flies - always a lovely sight in summer. I have heard that pond water is nutritious for plants, so I periodically water the olive trees with bucketsful of pond water, and fill the pond with clean water. It doesn't have a pump so keeping the algae levels down has to be done manually (or should I say womanually).

All the water from the kitchen sink is directed into the herb garden. It was very easy to modify the system. I am very careful that no strong detergents or very hot water go down the sink. Luckily the dishwasher and washing mashine are in the laundry room, so the water from them drains away separately. In summer there is a bucket in the shower which fills up nicely from a shower or two, and is then carried out to help subsidise the watering. Lots of extra weight bearing exercise!

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