Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Wednesday Vignette: Rain fell in SoCal!

Agave attenuata 'Raea's Gold'  looks lovely decorated with raindrops.  I planted this pup in the south-side succulent bed shortly before the rain started.

The Renga lily (Arthropodium cirratum) nearby was also studded with raindrops

As forecast, Southern California got rain on Monday, the majority of it falling between noon and 3pm.  I'd scrambled to get a lot of things planted over the weekend, including 12 plants received by mail order on Friday, tree lily bulbs I'd received earlier, and the Freesia bulbs dug up when I tore out some invasive plants in September so I was invested in getting everything well watered.  After nothing but drizzle in the morning, I ventured out to take care of one of the tasks I'd forgotten on Saturday: taking down the shade covers in the lath house.  So of course the downpour started while I was mid-way through that project.  That was the first time I got soaked.

After changing my clothes, I pulled my car out of the garage to let the rain wash it clean(ish).  I also started collecting water running off the rain chain in the back garden.  I have 50- and 160-gallon tanks to collect rain running off the house roof but a large amount comes down the rain chain too, where it's funneled down to the back slope and the canyon area beyond.  My 50-gallon tank filled quickly and I tapped some of that to start filling the 160-gallon tank while rain continued to flow into the 50-gallon tank.  I also pulled my car back into the garage and wiped it down.  Running back and forth between those tasks was how I got soaked a second time.

I still had these 5 buckets filled with water after dumping much of what poured down the rain chain into the 160-gallon tank and on plants under the roof overhang

You can see the water line near the top of the 160-gallon tank, filled roughly to the 150-gallon mark

On Tuesday morning, I poured all the water I had remaining in the plastic trugs shown above into the 265-gallon tank attached to the back of the garage.  It's unfortunate that our largest tank is attached to the smallest roof surface but it was too big and homely to attach to the house.  Moving water collected in one area to a tank in another area is an exhausting process but, given the severity of our drought, it's worth the effort.  I estimate that the 265-gallon tank is 33% full so, in all, I stored approximately 288 gallons of rainwater this week.

How much rain did we actually get?  The atmospheric river that pummeled Northern and Central California on Sunday gave us just four-tenths of an inch of rain, slightly more than Weather Underground's forecast predicted. 

Our total year-to-date rain for the "water year," which began October 1, 2021 and ends November 30,2022 is 0.52/inch.  Our total for the previous water year, which ended November 1, 2021 was 4.12 inches.  The "normal" annual rainfall for my area is 15 inches.

Even with less than half an inch of rain, the garden got a good soak.  I could have collected a bit more water but my husband and I were scheduled to get our COVID booster shots and, after running my clothes through the dryer, we took off to take care of that.  The rain was over by the time we got back.

I won't have to spend much time watering in the short-term but the rain reinforced the need to give the two Leptospermum shrubs framing the path between the front door and the driveway a hard pruning.  These plants have grown MUCH larger than the tag on their pots predicted (5-6 feet tall by 6-7 feet wide) .  When the branches are laden with rain, it's now difficult to walk between them without getting wet.

View of the two Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' shrubs from the front door

View of the same shrubs, looking more and more like trees, from the driveway.  Planted in December 2014, you can see them at their infant stage here.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


18 comments:

  1. Good for your, for making the effort to collect as much rain water as possible. 288 gallons is impressive.
    Oh, those tags... some indicate the size and add "in ten years", which I think about whenever I get a new plant. Plants don't really stop growing after 10 years, do they?

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    1. Well, many plants do seem to top out at some point but earlier and more vigorous pruning of the two Leptospermum on my part probably would have been a good idea. I cut one of the two shrubs down by about a third today. I hope it handles that without sulking, or worse yet, dying.

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  2. It often seems like plants are either smaller or larger than the size the tags give. It can really throw things off. So happy for your rain and very impressed with how much you "harvested" even though the total rainfall was small.

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    1. It'd be nice if I could collect more rainwater using the passive approach with what's shed by the roof going directly into holding tanks. But I don't want to ring the house with a half dozen ugly plastic barrels. A large metal (preferably underground) cistern would be ideal but we'd need pipes to collect the water and a good pump to move it wherever we might need it later. I can't even imagine the hoops we'd have to jump to get our city to approve installation of an underground tank - even getting a pool installed requires a complicated geological survey here.

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  3. So glad you got a decent amount of rain, Kris. I'm sure your new transplants and garden are basking in it. I can just imagine you scurrying around saving what you could! I feel a bit guilty that we take rainfall for granted here. I need to up my gratitude and appreciation of it.

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    1. I do a LOT of scurrying when the rain is coming down, at least when it comes down during the daylight hours. I've yet to get up in the middle of the night to collect and move water. But that could change...

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  4. Oh, I'm glad you got some needed rain. Everything looks so fresh! And wow, you collected a lot of the rainfall--excellent!

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    1. It's always surprising how fast that rainwater gets used up, Beth.

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  5. Yay for rain! That rain water collection system is impressive

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    1. I'm glad to have a rainwater collection system but sadly the supply doesn't last long, Hans. I was very envious of the cisterns I saw in some Texas gardens years ago during the Garden Bloggers' Fling in Austin.

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  6. Your plants look great. It never fails to amaze how even .4" can refresh everything so dramatically. I was deadheading some roses and the petals were as crisp and water-fat as iceberg lettuce. Rain is magic! We got about .4" also.

    Congrats on the 288 gallons! Got about 100, here, with trash barrels, buckets, and tubs.

    That is a heck of a nice weather station you have there.

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    1. My husband upgraded "my" weather station a couple of years ago because the original system didn't pick up and track rain totals. We've had only one problem with the current system: dense spider webs prevented the system from accurately recording rain totals at one time but my husband rigged something to prevent the spiders from repeating their feat.

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  7. I'm glad you got some rain! Glad that storm had some moisture left after it dumped about 6 inches here. Our 7 day total was 8ish. I badly want a rain tank but foe reasons that remain mysterious I can't locate any company that sells and installs rain catchment systems.If we have a normal year your 288 tank would probably take me through June.

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    1. We got our 160-gallon tank from a local company but our largest, Bushman tank (265 gallon capacity) came by mail order. However, it was deposited in our driveway and my husband had the task of setting it up, as well as setting up our rain gutters and the overflow piping. In our sandy soil, 288 gallons of rainwater won't last nearly as long for me as it would for you.

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  8. It must have felt like such a relief to get some of that miraculous wet stuff! I'm very happy for both you and your garden. :)

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    1. We've had so many disappointments when it comes to rain forecasts that it does feel like a minor miracle when the rain actually falls in any quantity than a couple hundredths of an inch, Anna.

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  9. So glad you finally got some rain. Every drop these days is valuable. We collect rain off the house and garage roofs and then use a sump pump to move the water into 2 1250 gallon tanks in the vegetable garden. It works quite well. The pumps are not expensive.

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    1. That's interesting, Elaine. We had a sump pump at our former house to address periodic flooding of our driveway and garage but I've never seen them used in tandem with rain tanks. I can only imagine how much space those 2 1250-gallon tanks require given the size of my 265-gallon model. Part of my problem is space. Our 265-gallon tank is behind our garage. We could add more tanks there but that's a small roof and not connected to the house. An underground tank on the same level as the house or a tank at the bottom of our slope would make the most sense; however, piping to and from the back slope poses logistical challenges. If water issues intensify, though, I imagine more companies will step forward to assist with those logistics.

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