Maybe we’re coddling our plants. Maybe they, too, can do more with less. Check out this article from the San Francisco Chronicle. There might be room to reduce the amount of water that is budgeted for irrigation in the design of rainwater harvesting systems.
It wasn’t by choice that Dan Lehrer cut off the water supply to his apple trees. When the irrigation system on his organic farm in Sebastopol broke down five years ago, repairing it was too costly, so his entire orchard of Red Rome Beauty and Golden Delicious went cold turkey.
Accustomed to enjoying drip irrigation 24 hours a day for roughly five months at a time, the trees were thirsty and stressed, but began producing smaller fruit that was less waterlogged and resulted in notably richer and crisper apples. They ripened later and kept better in storage. Meanwhile, Lehrer saved a hefty chunk on his water bill and conserved thousands of gallons each season, both from his well and from the public supply – notable in this low-water area of western Sonoma County. His apples haven’t seen a drop from the tap since.