We are your water harvesting ambassadors!
Grow Water is honored to be part of the California State Fair to display water harvesting and native plants in the Farm area of the fair. We're teaching through demonstrating alternatives to grass front yards with rainwater harvesting, greywater use and alternative watering methods. Through the combined efforts of volunteers and all the donors we hope to bring more regenerative design ideas to people who pass through the fair and continue educating people on the choices they make at their home.
A special thank you for all those who volunteered their time to work on this project. With your support we're able to bring water harvesting and native plants to the public.
Photos can be found at the bottom of this page.
The Demonstration Site @ The Farm
Blue Eyed Grass
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RAIN HARVESTING EARTHWORKS
RAIN HARVESTING CISTERN
OLLA SUNKEN GARDEN
Rain Garden / Earthworks: This rain garden passively collects storm-water and runoff and infiltrates it into the soil, making moisture available for much longer to the native plants that have been planted within and around it. Rain gardens utilize water where it falls or flows mitigating flooding, runoff and non-point source pollution associated with runoff. Once established, the native plants planted within and around this rain garden will survive and thrive on rainwater alone.
Rain Barrels / Cisterns: This tank passive collects water from the roof and is used to dole water out manually to the olla garden. Ollas typically require filling once a week in the wet season, and twice a week in the long dry season of the Sacramento Valley. Overflow from the cistern is directed to the rain garden.
1,000 square feet of roof in 1 inch of rain can harvest 623 gallons of water!
Olla Garden: Ollas are an ancient technique utilized, in some form, globally in dry areas since at least the 1st century BC. Because water seeps through the walls of an unglazed olla, these vessels can be used to irrigate plants. The olla is buried in the ground next to the roots of the plant to be irrigated, with the neck of the olla extending above the soil. The olla is filled with water, which gradually seeps into the soil to water the roots of the plant. It is an efficient method, since little water is lost to evaporation.
Greywater: Turn your “waste”water into resource water! Greywater is water from the washing machine, showers, and bathroom sinks, and is perfectly suited to reuse for outdoor irrigation (assuming you are using appropriate soaps.) It is the perennial flow of water produced daily in your home and reduces demand for potable water irrigation! Use it to grow food, shade, habitat, and beauty!
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Blue Eyed Grass
Wild looking in its natural state, the Blue Elderberry is a fastgrowing, multi-trunked large shrub or small tree that with pruning can be trained into a more garden-appropriate plant. The leaves are divided into 1″ – 6″ long toothed leaflets. Large clusters of creamy white flowers occur in spring and summer, followed by dense clusters of blue to black berries. The flowers and berries attract bees and an amazing number of birds and other wildlife.
Blue Elderberry tolerates many types of soil conditions and is relatively easy to grow. Plants in full sun produce more flowers and berries than those in shady conditions. It is drought tolerant, but holds its leaves longer and looks better with moderate summer irrigation. Hard pruning each winter will keep Blue Elderberry manageable and attractive. It is best planted in an area with enough space to fill out, but plants that have grown out of control can be cut back to the ground. It is useful in the garden setting as a screen or windbreak.
Used often in revegetation projects for its wildlife and habitat value, Blue Elderberry is protected in California’s Central Valley because it is the host plant to the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle, which is listed as a federally threatened species. - living wild, Alicia Funk
Western Yarrow is a small perennial that spreads by rhizomes. It varies by locale from 1-4'. The cream-colored (off-white?) flowers are in 3- 4"clusters. It's native to the western U.S. and is drought tolerant, swamp tolerant, somewhat alkali tolerant.
This three foot tall tufted perennial ranges from Oregon to the Channel Islands, where it will be found growing in seasonally wet or marshy places. Grown more for its gracefully arcing foliage than its blossom, inconspicuous light brown flowers appear from May to November. The Common rush does well in sun to moderate shade, and is surprisingly drought tolerant once established.
Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium bellum is a 1 foot tall perennial with 1 inch blue flowers in Jan.-June. It is widely distributed in California on open, grassy slopes, Redwood forests. Blue Eyed Grass has small, iris-like leaves. It likes full sun and garden water. It also can become very drought tolerant and tolerate full sun everywhere. It grows in sand to clay, coastal bluffs to interior grasslands. In dry full sun in the interior it will go summer deciduous early.
Lippia uses significantly less water than a lawn. Lippia grows a few inches tall and spreads by surface runners that root as they run. Lippia blooms Spring and Summer. Lippia is tolerant of light shade but will not bloom much in the shade and tends to get sparse and does not require mowing, though it will require edging to keep it from invading other areas and mounding over rocks. Lippia is a larval food for crescent butterflies and is a great addition to the butterfly garden. As a low growing plant it is good for the fire resistant garden and is winter hardy to the mid-teens and likely below.
Coyote Mint is a two-foot-high perennial with gray-green leaves and light purple clusters of flowers in summer. This coyote mint likes part shade to sun and is drought tolerant but takes garden water if given perfect drainage. Smells like a minty toothpaste and was used by Spanish as cure for sore throats. Butterflies use as a nectar source. Make sure you put it in the sun if you want butterflies. All the coyote mints seem to be fairly deer proof.. If this mint is happy it will form a small mat of gray covered with flowers and butterflies.
A five foot perennial shrub. Native Americans and early settlers used it for a cure-all. Now used for soil stabilization; will sucker along roots and tie-up a bank area. It's very drought tolerant. A pioneer plant, that grows in disturbed soil, and grows best in full sun. It grows in drier areas of the coastal areas and the Sierra Nevada mountains. It suffers die-back but has plenty of suckers to carry it. Yerba Santa tolerates sand, clay and serpentine. It's foliage color is white and type is evergreen.
Eriodictyon californicum's flower color is blue.
These plants are named for their funny-face-flowers that look like grinning Monkeys. The genus Mimulus is named for the Latin mimus, a comic actor or mime. We have left the two genera, Mimulus and Diplacus, separate for ecological reasons. The two may be similar taxonomically but there is a clear difference in their plant community requirements. The flowers in the genus Mimulus like moist areas in riparian corridors and aren't very drought tolerant. Some Mimulus species are annuals that appear only when there is a source of constant moisture, seasonal creaks, seeps, ponds etc. Mimulus species are more herbaceous and often shorter. On the other hand, plants in the Genus Diplacus like dry rocky slopes. They can often be found growing in almost solid rock with very little moisture even on south facing slopes. They will often survive drought by going summer deciduous. Diplacus species are erect and woody in their growth habit. Monkey flowers are more floriferous in full sun but will tolerate part or even full shade.
Sulfur Flower is one of the lowest of the perennial buckwheats, growing only 3 inches tall and 3 ft. wide, with showy yellow flowers and grey foliage; is an excellent small groundcover for higher elevations or colder parts of the U.S. This flat perennial ranges west of the Rocky Mountains, likes part shade to sun, and little or no water after established. An excellent low groundcover for small areas that are too poor to support most plant life. It's very drought tolerant but best with a little water after establishment (regular water the first summer).
California fuschia is a native, cool season perennial bunchgrass that is intermediate to long lived. The base is tightly clumped and the culms (stems) are tall and erect, growing to a height of 60-140 cm. Inflorescences (flowers or panicles) are 10-30 cm long, open and sparsely branched. Branches usually occur in pairs. Leaves are medium textured (2-4 mm wide), primarily basal, stiff, sometimes purple tinged, flat or rolled, firm, and rough to the touch. Plants are typically grayish blue to green and lack horizontal rooting systems. This species flowers anytime between March and July, depending on elevation, population, or locale.
California Strawberry is a perennial, with white flowers, edible red fruits, and spreads by horizontal above ground stems (stolons). These make a good ground cover for dry to damp shady areas or sunny areas with moderate water. Excellent for a small court yard or walkway that sets in moist shade. Tolerates clay, deer and seasonal flooding. Fruit is edible.
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Pineapple Guava Tree
A versatile, easy to grow landscape addition, yielding edible flowers and tropical fruit! Fleshy white flower petals have showy red accents, contrasting nicely with the gray green foliage. Tasty guava-like fruit ripens in late fall. Multiple, upright branching form is easily trained as espalier, hedge or small specimen tree. Full sun, once established requires only occasional watering, 19 to 15 feet tall that blooms early summer and has edible fruits.
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