Rain and Watering

It’s raining again this morning and, as always, it makes me think of the garden. The past two and a half weeks have given our garden over 10 inches of rain. If our beds were in the ground, they would have drowned by now. Many gardens around town are dying from so much water. Our raised beds help ours drain well. And it’s wonderful not to have to water.
How much water does your garden need? Watering once a week is the best practice, up to twice a week in the dry heat of the summer. Watering every day can encourage fungus and also causes your plants to be lazy and grow shallow roots because they don’t have to go down deep to get water. Shallow roots make a less sturdy plant. Think wind storms later. The amount of water the garden needs is about one inch per week. How do you figure out what an inch of rain or water hose water is? You definitely need a rain gauge to measure rainfall. As part of our curriculum, we used empty tuna cans to measure our hose water. Tuna cans are about one inch tall. We placed them all around the garden, let the sprinklers run, and timed how long it took to fill them. It works very well. Making sure you water deeply helps prevent many problems in the garden.
It’s best to water in the early morning or late evening so the sun does not evaporate all the water you put on. We always water in the early morning to prevent fungus that can develop from evening watering. It gives the water a chance to soak into the ground before the hot sun burns it off. It doesn’t stay on the leaves overnight, so you have less disease in the garden.
There are many ways to water including sprinklers and soaker hoses. Sprinkling does cause some water loss, about 4% evaporation when it is not windy. Do some research into different kinds of watering systems and see what is doable for you. For us right now, sprinklers work to meet our needs, and they are budget friendly. As we get our garden more established, we will be looking into other ways that may be more efficient.
It’s amazing how much better and greener the garden grows when it rains than when we water with the hose. Why is that? The chemicals in our tap water including chlorine are the difference. Plants don’t like drinking them any more than our bodies do. That’s why rain barrels are great for storing rain water until your garden needs watering. A good soaking rain will perk and green up a garden like mad. I’m amazed every time. With all the rain we’ve received recently, our garden is growing by leaps and bounds and it’s as green as can be. Think about that when deciding whether you need a water filter for your own drinking water. The garden tells us many secrets if we listen.
Did you ever notice that after a thunderstorm everything is amazingly green? The air and clouds contain nitrogen which plants need. When lightning strikes in the air, it forces the nitrogen out of the air and brings it to the ground. So the lightening is actually “fertilizing” the plants. Amazing, huh? Oh the thinks you can think!

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2 Comments

  1. Wow, I never knew that about lightning! Can’t wait to tell the kids about that one! And you are so right; the garden seems so happy after rain. Hand watering with tap water doesn’t do the same at all. I’d like to collect more rain water for this very reason. Great post!

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