Friday, May 24, 2024

Sharing my passion with the next generation

I always enjoy sharing my knowledge about sustainability with the next generation. So I was especially excited to give a tour of our rainwater basins to my son Jeremy's girlfriend Lillie, a civil engineering major with an emphasis on the environment. Can Jeremy pick 'em or what?!!! Jeremy tagged along to find out which plants to water when Dan and I go away on vacation. He took some photos while he was at it. Thanks, Jeremy! 

Our first stop was filling up my water bucket at the slimline tank. I explained how we get a lot of rainwater off of the roof (nearly 11,000 gallons a year.) Some of that water is directed from a gutter to a downspout and into our jujube basin. Gutters also direct water to the various cisterns around the house. 

I was delighted to share how the nearby jujube trees had grown three feet last year on just rainwater collected in the basin. And they were starting to bear the first fruit of the season. Even after this long dry spell! 

I had recently chopped and dropped some dried native plants (that some people might call "weeds") into the basin to create organic mulch. That observation inspired this story. Five years ago, Dan had removed a row of aging oleanders and dug a basin there for three baby jujube trees. The one planted farthest from where the oleanders were grew four times as fast as the two planted in the soil poisoned by the oleanders. But native grasses, organic matter (chopped weeds and fallen leaves) and rainwater mitigated the soil, so now the other two trees have caught up with the biggest tree!

The next stop was our shallow front yard basins. (See the pic at the top of the page.) The wood chip mulch has mostly broken down into soil. (We need another truck load.) So a bunch of poppies and native grasses grew there. When they died, I broke the stems of the poppies into hay-like mulch and left the dried grass (that had gone to seed) to feed the ants, birds and squirrels. 

Doves eating grass seeds in the shade of a desert acacia tree by the PLANTS FOR BIRDS sign.

Here I am pointing out the bird bath in the mesquite guild. (It is so important to provide daily water for the birds - especially in this heat!) The mesquite tree acts as a nurse plant providing shade and nitrogen for the nearby hackberry and a young saguaro. Notice that even during this dry spell, the native trees are green and thriving.

Next we visited the right of way basin where our moringa is coming back nicely after dying back in the hard freeze. Lillie gamely tasted the leaves of the nutritious "horseradish plant." 

Then I filled up my watering can and watered our flowering hibiscus plant that we recently planted in the greywater basin. There it benefits from greywater from our outdoor washing machine. The drought tolerant heritage pomegranate in the basin was also bearing fruit! It's always good to have that extra washing machine water for higher water-use plants like fruit trees.

I pointed out how the big slanted roof on the neighbors house had directed so much water into our yard that it had dissolved a wooden shed. Our kind neighbor gave Dan permission to install a gutter there to direct rainwater into a cistern to water our little garden. 

Jeremy followed me and Lillie into our fenced-in garden where he took this picture of his loved ones and learned that I use one watering can full of water on our little veggie garden. 

Lillie learned that the Palo Verde trees shade the garden from our hot summer sun and provide nitrogen to the soil. Bird netting cages keep the squirrels out of the chard (that grows year-round here.) And we use our dirty dishwater (with salt free soap) to moisten our compost pit. Every drop of water is precious in the desert.

It was so fun sharing my passion with Lillie. Can't wait to see what the next generation does... 

Continue our tour of my favorite places to bring visitors here:

Share the love! Join our campaign and show your friends the joys of rainwater harvesting basins.
Just post a pic of your basin with the hashtag #lovemyrainbasin


No comments:

Post a Comment