If mandatory water use restrictions looming yet again are not enough to convince you we all need to be conserving water, all you need to do is take a drive around Lake Casitas to see just how serious the situation is. Many folks in Ojai have already taken significant steps to save water, such as replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping options, installing rain barrels to catch our infrequent rain, and choosing high-efficiency appliances.
If you would like to continue to grow food for your family but are looking for ways to save water in your vegetable garden, you might consider growing low-water vegetables and herbs. While deciding what to plant, consider this list of drought-tolerant herbs for inspiration.
1. Rosemary: This versatile herb is best known for its culinary and medicinal qualities and is often grown as a hedge in Southern California. It is also a great topiary option, a good addition to your container garden, an effective privacy screen, and a natural way to keep snails and slugs out of your vegetable garden.
2. Feverfew: Feverfew is probably best known for its use as a headache and migraine remedy, but throughout history it has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes. This drought-tolerant herb with white flowers reminiscent of tiny daisies has been used to treat anemia, allergies, fever, arthritis, and the common cold.
3. Oregano: This popular herb garden option is generally grown for culinary purposes, but oregano also has medicinal qualities and can be grown as an ornamental plant. Oregano can thrive with little water grown in the ground or in containers and can be particularly appealing for its ability to repel a variety of insects when planted around your outdoor living areas.
4. Echinacea: Echinacea is a member of the daisy family and can be found in all sorts of herbal and over-the-counter remedies for preventing and treating the flu and the common cold. It can be grown in your garden for use in making home remedies and teas or can simply be used as an ornamental plant. Pink flowers are the most common, but you can also find Echinacea with red, white, or orange blooms.
5. Thyme: Thyme is available in taller varieties that can be grown for culinary and medicinal use and low-growing varieties that can be used as a low-water ground cover. Ground cover varieties can handle foot traffic, so you can even grow them between stepping stones in walkways. Historically, thyme grown for medicinal purposes has been used to treat sore throat, bronchitis, fatigue, muscle pain, anxiety, parasites, and several other ailments.
Herbs, in particular, can also be grown as a low-water border along a walkway or patio or can be used as a ground cover for larger areas. You can see examples of this with the varieties of lavender and sage commonly found in Ojai landscapes, but there are lots of other options from which to choose as well.
The Davis Group
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