Watering with a purpose


I grew up in the Midwest and our biggest concern was whether March would come in like a lion or a lamb according to the blowing winds. February has dealt some windy days involving drought and blowing dust here in the lower desert — and we are ready for spring.

This year, I want to remind everyone to conserve water. The state of Arizona is in extreme drought and has been for many years. Our major rivers and lakes are showing dropping water tables, the white rings around the edges of reservoirs like a ring around the bathtub.

And as summer approaches and the temperatures start to rise, the water levels will only continue to dissipate.

It doesn’t mean that you must sacrifice fresh fruits and veggies. There are ways to enjoy the value that a garden brings. We just have to be smart about it. It’s possible to have your cake and eat it, too.

Here are several things we can do while gardening to save water, including:

  • Learning to use native plants for the desert. They thrive in our area and are drought-tolerant, so they can survive with reduced water.
  • Choose plants for the vegetable garden that take the least number of days to produce, such as tomatoes that produce in 60 days.
  • Watering garden and plant life is equally important. First, check all your appliances and irrigation sources for leaks. Repair them right away. A dripping faucet or leaky tubing can be expensive in cost and conservation. Frequently check faucets, toilets and irrigation for leaks.
  • Didn’t drink that entire glass of water? Pour the excess into a plant or Rover’s bowl.
  • Learn water requirements for plants and don’t overwater. See the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension “blue sheet” handout for three seasons and frequency to water.
  • Water use should be minimized. Run water only with purpose. It goes beyond how we use water in gardening and landscaping.

Here are some more ideas for conserving water around the house:

  • Use the Navy shower method, which means wet down and wet the soap, then shut off the water. Lather your body while wet, turn on the shower to rinse off, and then turn off the water.
  • When brushing your teeth wet the brush, apply paste and turn off the water while brushing. Turn on to rinse. Don’t allow water to just run down the drain.

Harriet A. Phelps is a Master Gardener.


This column was first published in the March edition of InMaricopa magazine.