VIEWS: Drought Lessons From Down Under

PanAmerican Seed’s Mark Gross shares his observations after returning from a trip to Australia in his letter to the editor.

Delilah,

I just returned from a trip to Australia and found your editorial piece in the December issue of Greenhouse Grower very interesting. (Dealing With Drought)

As you may be aware of, Australia has been dealing with a severe drought for many years. They continue to be at a level 3 of a four-level system for determining the severity of drought conditions. Yet, as they move into their summer of ’07 and ’08, growers were pleased, even ecstatic over there current season.

Why? Because consumers have finally gotten the message that drought conditions does not mean you have to abandon gardening. You just have to garden smarter. You can still water your garden for two hours twice a week or water your containers anytime you want as long as you use a watering can or other type of containers. House plants, too, can be watered at any time.

Australia also has determined that water conservation is smart, even if you have sufficient water. There is now talk that even if they do get rains that fill up their reservoirs, they may never lift the stage 3 restrictions for gardening (or washing your car and other water-using activities). Even with the restrictions, you could still wash your car as long as it was from a facility that reclaimed and recycled water.

As one grower put it, “The car washing companies did a much better job of educating the consumers than we did.” After realizing that more people had cleaner cars than green gardens, the green industry put together an ad campaign to promote water-wise gardening, and it seems to have paid off.

It was the green industry in Australia that finally got the message out about watering during restrictions. It’s too bad that we never learn from the mistakes or experiences of others. It always seems we have to make the mistakes ourselves to learn from them. Maybe if we would incorporate wise water use, no matter where we are located, we would not have water restrictions imposed on us.

Mark Gross
PanAmerican Seed
West Chicago, Ill.

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