Tomorrow, the City of Raleigh will implement its most severe level of water restrictions, Stage 2. As far as I know, these harsh restrictions are unprecedented. Since the end of last summer, we've been at "Stage 1 and a half," which allowed irrigation and hand-watering one day a week. The new restrictions ban all outdoor watering, including watering potted plants or vegetables with a hose. These restrictions also apply to landscaping businesses and nurseries, so there will be a lot of plant funerals and pink slips in the coming weeks and months.
My feeling is that we'll be on this schedule for quite a while unless something changes markedly. That means no new perennials in the ground. And it means I won't be starting any seeds this month. Fortunately, most of the perennials and shrubs in my garden are pretty drought-tolerant.
Sixty-seven of North Carolina's 100 counties are currently in the most severe stage of drought, D-4 or "exceptional drought," according to the federal drought map.
We received about an inch of rain yesterday morning. Week before last we got 7/8-inch. Before that, the last rainfall we got was 2 inches on Jan. 1, according to my records. So if I didn't forget to record any, and if my math doesn't fail me, that's only about 4 inches this year.
Last summer, I attended a talk at our local library by one of the city's water department reps. Just a handful of people showed up to ask questions, all of us flower-and-vegetable gardeners. When someone asked how many of us had watered plants with bathwater and other gray water, every hand shot up. The rep said that we "were not the problem," that lawn sprinklers were. I say it's long overdue for many Americans to cure their addiction to turf grass. I would like to have just a little of that water to grow Granny Cantrell's German Red tomatoes, Purple Haze carrots and Easter Egg radishes.