- Author: Maria X. Isip-Bautista
There's much in the news lately about California's infamous drought and the, perhaps even more notorious, water restrictions recently imposed by the state. Since an estimated 50 to 80 percent of household water use goes to outdoor landscaping, these issues are of particular interest to those of us who keep gardens. But what are these new restrictions, and what do they mean for you? This short summary aims to tell you what you need to know to avoid a run-in with your local water police.
In addition to other changes not directly related to home garden watering, the current state restrictions:
- Prohibit the application of potable water to outdoor landscapes in a way that causes runoff
- Prohibit the use of hoses without shut-off nozzles
- Prohibit the use of potable water for washing driveways and sidewalks
- Prohibit the use of potable water in non-recirculating fountains or other decorative water features
- Prohibit the application of water to landscapes within 48 hours after measurable rainfall
- Limit outdoor irrigation of all ornamental* landscapes and turf to limited watering days
*Vegetable gardens, fruit trees, etc. are exempt
City-specific water restrictions in Solano County include:
|City||Days permitted to water||Hours permitted||Additional Notes|
|Benicia||Addresses ending in odd #: M/W/F; Addresses ending in even #: Tu/Th/Sat||7pm-8am||April 1-October 15|
|Dixon||2 Days a week||Reduce overall usage by 20% for outdoor use and 10% for combined indoor/outdoor use, relative to 2013 usage rates|
|Fairfield||Addresses ending in odd#: M/W/F; Addresses ending in even #: Tu/Th/Sat||6pm-noon|
|Rio Vista||Addresses ending in odd #: M/W/F; Addresses ending in even # Tu/Th/Sat||7pm-noon|
|Suisun City||Addresses ending in odd #: odd number calendar days; Addresses ending in even #: even number calendar days||6pm-noon||Schools, day care facilities and public parks exempt from the lawn watering restrictions but must reduce water use by 20%|
|Vacaville||4 Days a week|
|Vallejo||Addresses ending in odd#: Tu/Th/Sat, Addresses ending in even#: M/W/F||6pm-9am|
Some cities have also put into place fines for violators of these ordinances and/or ways that residents can report water waste. Check city websites or mailings for updated or more detailed information as it becomes available.
For those of us who've been looking for a good time to convert our lawns to more water wise landscaping, there's no time like the present, since Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) is offering cash rebates for water customers (including businesses) that take the plunge into a lawnless lifestyle. Find more information on this and other rebate programs (including a program for installation of smart irrigation controllers) here: http://solanosaveswater.org/rebates/.
These changes in our outdoor watering habits can also be better for our gardens…
- Watering with more water wise systems, like drip irrigation, can also be better for our plants, since overhead watering can sometimes lead to more plant diseases, like molds.
- Planting native plants, many of which are more drought tolerant, can be good for bees, birds, and other beneficial insects in the garden.
- Watering at the right time of day/night (i.e. not at noon) reduces stress on plants, resulting in healthier plants and happier gardeners!
The California Climate Action Network in its Water Conservation Leadership Guide notes that, “Using drought tolerant plants, along with water efficient irrigation practices, may reduce outside water uses by as much as 25 to 50 percent.” It's great to know that it's in our power to positively impact the future of water in the state, since we've not yet figured out a smart irrigation controller for that big faucet in the sky.
For more info:
Dixon ordinance: http://ca-dixon.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/Home/View/4739
Fairfield Water FAQ: http://www.fairfield.ca.gov/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=10772
Rio Vista Municipal code: http://qcode.us/codes/riovista/view.php?topic=17-17_68-17_68_025&frames=on
Suisun restrictions: http://www.suisun.com/wp-content/files/20140903_Drought_Informational_Flyer_v2.pdf
- Author: Christine Paris
This past year, I graduated from the Solano County Master Gardener Program. It gave me a very broad, eye-opening of all horticulture.The intense learning program was very brain stimulating. There were days when I left class with my mind wheeling with information overload. Well now its time to put all that to practical use! One of the things that I am passionate about are backyards birds. Or birds in general. Watching their little daily schedules is something to behold. I am lucky enough to live outside the city limits, although I have lived in the city my whole life. Mostly in Vacaville. But enough about me. Lets talk Birds.
Did you know that over five billion birds die each year (National Audubon Society)? Mostly caused by humans. Examples are cars, home or high rise windows, pesticides, high tension wires, loss of habitat, global warming and of course our beloved domestic/feral cats. To name a few.
I ponder all the time about just what can a person do to help these poor creatures in some small way? With our serious drought conditions. How is a person able to plant for birds? Where are they to get the backyard water from? Birds absolutely must have shelter, local food, local nest building materials to survive. Pretty basic stuff for such a hard life for birds. Considering that a hummingbird just hatched is the size of a bee! Hard to survive that small. So most of us put out the hummer feeders. Good job there! Lets consider moving on a bit and perhaps plant a native species? Did you know that 1/3 of all California plant species are found no where else on the planet? Local birds and some migrating species need that specific native plant to survive on. You can go to Morningsun Herb Farm right here in Vacaville. Good to buy local whenever possible. Usually Big Box Stores have alien/exotic plant species. They haven't caught on yet- at least each time I check to see.
As this drought continues to plague us and water becomes increasingly precious, I am finding more and more ways to save here and there. I now have placed a 5 gallon bucket into my shower. When I turn on the water to get it hot. That cold water is saved. It is amazing to see how fast it fills up! I then take that water and dump it into the bird water. Yes, it is more work for me. Then I could use the exercise and the poor birds need that extra little boost. Next time lets talk on replacing a water consuming plant to a pretty blooming native. One that takes very little water and feeds, draws the pollinators and birds naturally. You can help.
- Author: Lorraine Remer
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by Lorraine Remer
- Author: Susan P Croissant
Native to Italy. A food source for the adult Painted Lady Butterfly and the California Dogface Butterfly. The garden plant grown under this species name is likely a hybrid or polyploid mutation.
"True" C. gymnocarpa is rare, endangered and endemic (indigenous) to the remote island of Capraia (Isola Capraia) in the Tyrrhenian Sea near Naples, close to French Corsica, part of the Tuscan Archipelago. Under Conservation Action law guiding biodiversity conservation in the Tuscan region, it is forbidden to collect any species in this genus. On the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list of endangered species since 2006. Invasive alien plants threatening sub-populations are Carpobrotus acinaciformis (fig-marigold family) and Senecio angulatus (sunflower family), found mostly in Capraia between the cities of Paese and Porto. See photos differentiating garden plant vs. endemic at: http://gimcw.org/plants/Centaurea.gymnocarpa.cfm
For IUCN red list including birds, fish, fungi, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, etc.: http://cms.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/who_we_are/ssc_specialist_groups_and_red_list_authorities_directory/. Info on IUCN at: http://www.iucnredlist.org/about/overview#partnership.
This species belongs to the "cineraria" group. It was probably once a single species when the land masses were united. But as islands were formed, new species evolved on each island. Today, there are a number of closely related species of Centaurea in the Mediterranean growing on rocky seaward cliffs. Herbaceous, it colonizes in cracks and fissures of rock faces, growing on acid rocks. Found in association with Linaria capraia and other endemics Silene badaroi and Galium caprarium.
Of the 500 species, only 12 are cultivated. The garden variety is a perennial growing up to 13-ft high, 1-ft wide. Great for cut flowers and wildlife. White/silver felt-like leaves are more finely divided than C. cineraria. The big, fluffy 2" purple flowers bloom in late Spring or Summer, 2-3 at the ends of leafy branches. Full sun or bright shade, very drought tolerant (but can take regular irrigation/moderate water), deer resistant, hardy to 15-20°F. Fast growing in pots or ground, and flowers from seed within 2 years. For best performance, add lime to acid soils. Clay tolerant.
For garden variety, see: https://www.anniesannuals.com/plants/view/?id=2977
One of the many wonderful species that frequent Gabriel Vaturi's collective Mediterranean/Tropical garden, where I was docent at this year's Vallejo Garden Tour.
- Author: Mike Gunther
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