Have you ever wondered how to make it rain? The folks at Home Grown New Mexico may have figured it out. For the second year in a row the Kitchen Garden and Coop Tour has concluded with a downpour. I can't think of a more fitting end to a tour of permaculture gardens, water catchment systems and chicken coops than a powerful rainstorm.
It is the height of summer and gardens are (or should be) at their best. Our garden is recovering from a hailstorm, so I must look elsewhere for verdant finery. Conveniently, the Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill held their grand opening last weekend and our family toured the newly planted grounds. I've seen a few botanical gardens in my day and many focus on obscure and exotic plants from far-flung corners of the globe.
One week ago a fierce thunderstorm hit our neighborhood and it started with a vicious hailstorm. I was in the middle of a project and could do nothing to save the tender annuals in our garden. While the corn survived, most of the chiles, tomatoes, beans and squash were shredded. Many of the perennials are already looking better, but I still need to decide what plants will be replaced this season.
I'm thrilled to have the precipitation, I just wish it had all come as rain. Ugh.
The Southwest isn't wet in the best of times and during a drought, like Right Now, it is downright parched. How do you keep a garden growing when the rain doesn't fall? We have to irrigate, but how can we irrigate effectively with scarce water? Drip irrigation is one modern answer, but ancient people had a simpler version of the same idea.
By necessity, life in the American Southwest depends on the availability of water. Aldo Leopold understood the importance of watersheds and those lessons are being re-learned today. Here is a documentary of a two day watershed restoration workshop held in October 2012 at Ampersand Sustainable Learning Center near Madrid, NM. "The Cutting Edge" was taught by Brad Lancaster, Amanda Bramble, Jan-Willem Jansens, Steve Carson and Craig Sponholtz. The workshop focused on catching, sinking, storing and using water where it falls.
While replacing the deck and subfloor we researched bathroom flooring choices. Our criteria for the floor were: low maintenance and water resistant, not cold underfoot, moderate to low price, and preferably a sustainable product. Those requirements quickly narrowed the choices to linoleum.
Our bathroom remodel is now on solid footing. Specifically, two layers of new plywood glued and screwed in place have replaced the water-damaged deck and subfloor. Half of the "wet" wall is replaced with new (full height) and reused (short pieces and blocking) 2x4 lumber. I've spray-foamed each of the water and vent pipe holes in the subfloor and wrapped the hot-water pipes for both bathrooms (they share the "wet" wall) with foam insulation. A can of spray foam and pipe insulation are cheap and help deliver hot water to the tap faster.
Life is what happens when you are making other plans. For instance, instead of doing almost anything else I've gutted and am now remodeling our guest bathroom. Simply put, small water leaks can become big problems, especially given enough time.