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Verde Valley Good Eats
By Lu Parker, Cottonwood, AZ
Cover the how-to's to backyard poultry, gardening, putting the food by and where to find good eats that are all natural, Verde Valley grown. Tips on preparing all natural food, particularly meats that have not been injected with water or dripping in fat. Pickling, canning, a few recipes here and there and a general discussion on growing and eating it here.
Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wise Water Planning Now

 By Lu Parker

WISE WATER USE Heading for another dry year.

The National Weather Service and Drought Forecasters all have us pegged for a dry 2012 with drought levels predicted from moderate to severe by Fall. Now is the time to be planning to use what we have wisely.

While we are always looking for better conservation methods, some the simplest are still some of the best. Rain barrels or routed gutter streams can really help now and during the monsoons, which we hope come this year.

If you have never set up a barrel under your eave runoff, you don't really see how much water we can save for other uses. The grass is always greener over the leach field and under the eaves for a reason. Simply catching that runoff in a barrel and then using it in a garden can make a huge difference in the watering needs come May. Start catching now. Add 1 gallon of apple cider vinegar for every 20 gallons of water in the barrel and the water won't spoil with algae.

There are many fancy rain barrels and drip systems designed to work off the rain barrel catch. Basics? Set up the barrel and use a bucket to carry the water to where you need it.

Gutter runs are downspouts with tile running the water to where you want it. If your garden is near a building, this can work very well. One of my gardens is behind a one car garage. A little tiling, and the rains are dispersed from the roof into the rows.

Plan the water user plants this year. Try to adjust your plantings for drought tolerance (that doesn't mean no water, just less). Use the tall - short method of planting. Taller plants shade the shorter plants and help reduce evaporation losses.

When you do water, water the root zone down to at least 2 inches, but not every day. The deeper the roots grow, the more drought tolerance the plant has. Spray watering is not as effective as drip systems or soaker hoses, and should not be done on windy days, or after early morning. Most of the water will just evaporate.

For our critters, keep the tanks and waterers in shade. A simple lean- to over a stock tank will greatly reduce algae growth and evaporation losses. Again, apple cider vinegar is an all natural algae controller. One tablespoon per gallon for chickens will keep the waterer clean.

Last but not least, fix any leaks now. It might only be a drip, but every drip adds up and a drip a minute will be a gallon.

Hopefully, our weather prognosticators are wrong, but better prepared can't hurt.

Hens are laying well now, and 35 chicks in the brooder. Still waiting on the turkey hens to lay. They have their own calendar! Cure the local allergy crud....buy local honey!

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