Thursday, April 06, 2006

April in the Pacific Northwest rain shadow region means that the rains are starting to diminish. At last. At Lavender Wind Farm we are waiting to hear about our application for a Water Right to collect rain from the roofs to put into a holding pond which we can then use to water things like plants in pots. We don't irrigate here at all because we don't have irrigation rights with our land.

Western water rights are a complex set of laws(WSU's Water site). We live on an island which is a "sole source" aquifer. Our source of drinking water comes from one source, the aquifer under our feet that is recharged by rain. We don't have rivers running through our island that we can take water from, so we are completely dependent on the health of the aquifer below us for drinking water. The problem is that there are many places on this island that are threatened with salt water intrusion. Our health department monitors the water situation and the level of rainfall is important in recharging the aquifer.

Lavender, coming from the dry summers and wet winters of the Mediterranean region is well suited to grow without irrigation in our Mediterranean climate. Our summers aren't as warm as those in southern France, but our lavenders grow very well anyway. The plants that are more exposed to the harshest of our winds - the west wind - are having a harder time. They are smaller and less prolific than the others in the deeper soils and more protected areas of our other fields. Even so, we don't irrigate. The native lavenders of France are stubby little plants in hard-scrabble dirt. These are the early colonizers of the lavendula family and it's impressive to see them struggle for existenced in their natural way. They only have the water that comes from the rains and they bake in the hot summer sun - a real testament to survival with style. They smell so good!

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