This article was written quickly and in collaboration with a few people. Share your thoughts below.
We want to talk a bit about water planning and efficient water use during the season.
It’s clear spring is here. It is getting warm and early flowers are blooming. We’ve had lots of rain, especially recently. However, despite our heavy rains this winter, it is likely that the long term trend toward drought will continue.
It’s time for spring planning in order to assure a successful season. Thinking of growing from seed to get deep roots and strong plants? This year, as we always do, we are growing in the ground. Adding lots of compost and mulch to the growing beds to get them ready to plant.
And now is the time to get your water system and water plans in place.
Not many are thinking about water now, with all the recent heavy rains. There is water everywhere. However, weather experts all tell us our long term drought is likely to continue as a general trend even if we have occasional wetter years.
For you outdoor growers, a good water plan with appropriate infrastructure can mitigate needing to haul water for your grow. Or at least reduce the amount of water you haul during the season. Another method is to catch water from your structures and use the water you catch. If you have a rainwater catchment system in place, during the rainy season, you can fill up your water tanks several times over and start your season without needing to pump or haul water.
Water catchment systems are finally being promoted more broadly. The Soquel Water District wrote the following description for their rainwater collection workshop held last weekend at Cabrillo College:
“Rainwater harvesting is a popular alternative for homeowners and gardeners who want to become more self-sufficient by collecting rainwater while reducing their water bills. Rainwater can be used to water gardens and for emergency water supply. In this class we will discuss the fundamentals of designing a domestic rainwater harvesting system, how to optimize capture and usage, filtration and distribution. Graywater systems will also be discussed.”
It is also becoming clear when attending meetings of the C4 (Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee) and listening to possible rules that are being discussed for permitted or licensed grows that there are likely to be requirements and regulations around water. You are likely to be limited and regulated regarding how you can source water. You may not be allowed to divert surface water at all.
A Good Water Plan is Essential
Do you have enough water storage? Do you have proper water distribution to make your summer watering easy? Could you install an extra water tank or two before the season begins? Or as my friend does, use an above ground pool.
Make a plan, and work on it now so you are ready. If you intend to apply for one of the upcoming growing permits that will be allowed in Santa Cruz County once the new rules are in place, a well planned water system will be essential in getting your permits approved for outdoor grows in the mountains.
In addition to a good water system for storage, a well planned distribution system, and a water catchment system; we also need a plan for managing our water use during the season to minimize the impacts of extreme water use.
In our opinion, a good planting bed, well amended soil with plenty of mulch and compost, good drainage, and an organic growing method is the most effective and efficient in terms of water use for outdoor or greenhouse grows.
Ditch your pallets (in our humble opinion). Sure there is the theory that growing on pallets “prunes” your roots. However, this method radically increases the amount of water your plants will need during the season, and will actually reduce your yield a bit by adding a bit of stress to the plants. By allowing roots to grow deep, your plants will need less water during the season.
If intending to grow; make a plan now. Don’t wait. Add storage. Think seriously about mulching, growing your plants in soil with deep roots, and putting in a water catchment system.