Monday, May 23, 2016

Water In The Urban Garden

Empty rain barrel.
Rain. It's probably the one thing that gardeners worry about the most. Not enough and your plants wither. Too much, and you fight fungus and no sunshine. There was a chance of rain Saturday night and then Sunday. Now they're saying there's a 60 percent chance of rain tonight. We'll see. Sixty percent isn't a guarantee by any stretch, and we do need the rain. The soil in our garden is made up of a high percentage of vegetable matter, but yesterday when I was planting I was noticing that it was kind of dusty. Even organic soil isn't going to hold moisture forever. So, while it's a beautiful day to hang the laundry outside, I'm looking at the sky expectantly. There's a mackerel sky and says the barometer is dropping, so that means the weather will change. 

Right now we have two barrels under downspouts, but we'll need more than that. Last year was a hot dry summer, and a couple of times we ran out of water. This summer is predicted to be hot, too. I try to just use rainwater in the garden, simply because I try to keep the cost of our yield as low as I can. Remember the promise I made to our landlord: If his water bill picks up, I may lose a garden. If you're going to collect rainwater, pick a downspout that comes off a big section of roof to ensure that enough water comes down to fill the barrel.

Just think of how much of our modern world is paved over, from streets and parking lots, to building roofs. Water that falls on a city is almost virtually sealed off from entering as groundwater until sewers dump it somewhere far from where it fell. As civilization moves forward (God willing) I've wondered why urban planners don't incorporate cisterns, along with solar energy, in both developments and individual homes. Public water systems were a boon to public health, but why can't homes collect rainwater (it comes out of the sky for free, like the sunlight and air that's drying our clothes right now!) It doesn't have to be used for potable water, but could be used for things like watering gardens and flushing toilets. There's no reason to pay for water that's been purified for those reasons.

I did take advantage of yesterday's dry weather, though, to plant the zucchini and acorn squash. I noticed that something had already eaten one of the brussel sprouts and my neighbor, Tom, gave me an entire bucket of coffee grounds to spread around the plants, saying that squirrels don't like the smell. He goes to the local coffee shop and gets buckets of grounds (yesterday he had three bucketful) so we'll see if squirrels/rabbits/insects stay away. I figured it couldn't hurt. I know one animal that loves coffee grounds is the earthworm.

The paving stone at the bottom of the barrel anchors it in case of high winds.

A gorgeous day to dry clothes. We dry our clothes outside almost all year long. Why use a machine and energy when there's a perfectly good dryer that comes up in the east every morning?
Mackerel sky. Hope it brings a little rain.

Yellow squash seedlings.

Thirsty yellow squash seedlings.That's mint and Jerusalem artichokes in the background.
Coffee grounds spread around plants to deter squirrels. I'll let you know how it works.

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