Hands up if you danced in those downpours this week in metro-Atlanta. Or maybe you stood by your window with your arms to the heavens and proclaimed Hallelujah? Okay, that counts, too. Gardening in drought-prone areas like ours helps us get back to basics pretty quickly, doesn’t it? And water is definitely a basic when you’re gardening.
Sure, sure, most plants need only about an inch of water a week, and yes, we all know that ole’ water-less-and-let-the roots-grow-strong trick. But when you transplant or plant seeds, your little babies need a good solid week of tender loving watering, and then after that, well, you do still need that inch a week.
That’s where lack of rain, lack of time, and lack of consistency can become a problem. It’s especially so if you travel or are juggling new babies like Farmer D and his wife or your gardening has gotten so extensive that watering is a two-hour commitment like the food pantry effort at my nearby community garden. What’s more, increased concern about our dwindling water resources and rising costs makes even the most carefree gardener think twice about how he or she is using water.
Good news! You have lots of choices. Rain barrels are truly remarkable, if you haven’t tried one yet. You hook it up to your downspout and it can fill in just an hour or two of a good, steady rain. Seriously. You can get something like a half gallon of water per square foot of roof. Check with your city to see if it is hosting a rain-barrel-making class soon, or come by the store and choose from our selection so you’ll be good to go right away (you never know when it’s going to rain next–might as well be ready).
Drip irrigation is another solution worth installing. This method delivers water directly where it is needed, with no waste and no splashing of leaves which can lead to disease. Also, it can even be put on a timer, saving you water, money, time, and trouble. If you’ve been wanting to grow food, not lawns, but are concerned about keeping up with it, drip irrigation may be just what you need.
Keep in mind that sometimes it’s good to have hand-watering as a responsibility–think school gardens (kids simply love watering), and community gardens where there is always someone who not only wants to but needs to be the person who “waters on Wednesdays.” Or maybe it’s coming home from work and taking some time to water is just what you need to relax. Even in those circumstances, however, having back-up drip irrigation can help during vacations, late nights at the office, and other times of inconsistency. Plus, it preserves the chore of watering as a pleasure and not a burden over time.
Thinking bigger than that? Through our partnership with an Atlanta-based company named Ecovie, we can provide you with complete rain harvesting systems. I love the story about how Dennis Creech at Southface, a non-profit organization that promotes energy, water, and resource-efficient businesses, homes, and communities in the Southeast, said he wanted to capture every single inch of water that fell on Southface’s property. And that he has, through a comprehensive combination of rain harvesting methods.
You may not want the “Petticoat Junction-esque” cistern on your roof, but you most likely can use the water that does fall on your home, school, faith-based, or community garden more effectively. Let us help you! Come by or call Farmer D Organics (we’re doing a free workshop on it soon) at 404.325.0128 (our national friends can visit us online for some irrigation aids). And if it’s raining, don’t be surprised if you catch us dancing.