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September 2nd, 2010

Everything is parched here. It’s been a dry dry summer and it was especially dry during the month of August, we got less than an inch of rain for the entire month. To make it even worse we have sandy soil which doesn’t hold water at all. Everything is crispy and some thing are badly wilted.

I have rain barrels to collect the rain water, but they’ve been empty for weeks since we haven’t had any rain. They were drained to water all the potted tomatoes, vegetables and the raised beds in the back. I don’t make it a habit of watering much, the plants usually bounce back fairly well when the fall rains come. I do have a few choice plants that get a drink every 10 days or so to make sure they survive the dry spells. Mostly these are the hydrangeas in my collection, I’d hate to have to replace any of them, which would cost far more than the water it takes to make sure they survive the dry spells. When it’s this dry I do water the front foundation gardens as they are filled with a lot of plants that I’d hate to lose. The blueberries especially would suffer with reduced yields next summer.

I enjoy watering by hand most of the time, it’s good exercise and it gives me time to monitor all the plants. Usually I’m carrying around these 3 gallons watering cans and occasionally I’ll use the watering wand if the plants need a lot of water or if I’m watering a larger area.

When it’s been this dry I water the larger garden areas with the sprinkler. It saves a ton of time to set up the sprinkler and let it do it’s job. I bought this fantastic heavy duty Gilmour metal sprinkler many years ago and I love it. I’d highly recommend it if you’re in the market for a good quality sprinkler that will last forever, I especially love that it’s easy to set, no little knobs that get stuck and won’t turn. And it’s all zinc and brass and heavy enough to take some serious water pressure. After going through a few cheap sprinklers, I invested in this and I’ve been happy with it for the last 5 years!

When I’m using the sprinkler, I use a rain gauge to monitor how much water the gardens have received and I set the timer on the stove to remind myself to check every half hour. I make sure I give everything a good inch of water so I only have to do it once or maybe twice during a really dry month like this.

No doubt my water bill will be 2-3 times the normal amount, but it’s cheaper than buying new plants. I know the more I amend and improve the soil here the better the plants will weather these long dry spells. The rain barrel system is a real money saver for us when it comes to watering the garden, but there are other things I also do to save water.

I keep a dishpan in the sink and save the water from rinsing vegetables and washing dishes for the plants. When we run the shower to warm it up we save the water in a bucket. We also have containers that fit in the bathroom sinks that we use to collect hand washing water to use for watering as well. All of these small measures really can add up to a lot of gallons saved. Some day I dream of having a gray water system in my home, until then, it’s buckets and dishpans.

How’s the rain/water situation in your area of the world? What’s your preferred method of watering when rain isn’t coming?

17 Comments to “Parched”
  1. Sue on September 2, 2010 at 5:41 am

    I have the same conditions as you–dry sandy soil, and hardly any rain in the summer. I’ve been amending the soil yearly, but the compost almost seems to just burn up and disappear. I’m trying very heavy mulch (grass clippings) which seems to help a bit, but it is frustrating. I water a few choice plants about every 10 days-if they look like they just can’t hang on another minute, and try to grow only “xeric” plants, but I can’t do without my tomatoes!!

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  2. Sense of Home on September 2, 2010 at 8:29 am

    This has been a good year for rain so the rain barrel just went dry last week. I make sure I water the new plants and the potted plants. The new cherry tree we planted this spring has been getting a good dose of water weekly, I want my new plants to become well established, next year it will be on it’s own.


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  3. Dave on September 2, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Rain was lacking down here for a long time but the last couple weeks have been much better. I recently got a rain barrel set up and I’m really enjoying it. It’s very nice to have free water ready to go for all my cuttings. My hostas look about the same by the way!

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  4. MAYBELLINE on September 2, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I have determined that the irrigation factor is also a part of why I dislike summer. Irrigating is an everyday chore. Most things are automated but others are by hand. When it gets blazing hot, irrigation must take place twice each day.

    Rain barrels here would be black widow houses most of the year.

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  5. Wenchypoo on September 2, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Since I hardly use water, I just turn the hose on–but it’s been rainy for a Virginia summer, and a hurricane’s going to clip us, so water isn’t an issue this year. If we get a drought, I have plans:

    We’re rebuilding the garden soon for winter, and we plan on digging the plot out and installing a soaker hose around the inside perimeter. I can use this in drought or good conditions.

    After the hose is laid around the inside perimeter (hose hookup exposed), I plan to cover this with screening to keep dirt from clogging the hose holes. Then the dug-out dirt will be amended, then returned to the hole. I can then (in theory) hook up my own hose to the exposed soaker hose end, and water that way. I’ll update as to how APPLICATION differs from theory–there WILL BE a learning curve here, I’m sure.

    If I had been thinking ahead when we had our gutter installed last year, I’d have included a rain barrel downspout. Thankfully, the previous owner WAS thinking and had the A/C drainpipe placed to water the berry bush patch.

    Every month when the water/sewer/garbage bill arrives, it just slays me that water is the cheapest thing on it! It costs me twice as much for garbage pickup, and don’t even ask about storm runoff charges!

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  6. kristin @ going country on September 2, 2010 at 9:50 am

    We have some garbage cans positioned under our downspouts–woodchuck rain barrels. Except for watering in new plants, however, the garden lives or dies according to nature’s generosity with the rain. Ain’t no way I’m hauling water from the house to the garden on a regular basis.

    This year the eggplants suffered from lack of rain, but they’re high maintenance prima donnas anyway. Everything else is fine.

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  7. misti on September 2, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I’m sorry things have been so dry for you.

    You’re potatoes are beautiful, though!

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  8. Hailey on September 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    We’ve had quite the opposite summer here in NW Montana. It’s been cold and wet with few scorching hot days. Our rain barrels are currently full and I can’t remember the last time they were full in the END of August! It’s played out to be an interesting one in the garden, my tomatoes and peppers have still yet to ripen on the vine but other crops did fantastic. Bumper crops of beans, carrotts, beets, potatoes, peas…all the wonderful ingredients to throw into a soup on our cold winter days! If I could control the weather I’d gladly send you some of precip.!

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  9. Joshua on September 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    We’re having no trouble with rain at all here at the Wallow in east TN. I say that, but now that I think about it, there were some weeks when I watered with an impact sprinkler. Since we’re on well water, it doesn’t cost much out-of-pocket, except for the electricity to run the pump. Even still, I would like to get a rain barrel system installed, as we have gotten several deluges this spring and summer, and it would have been nice to make use of the water that ran off the roof. I’d also like to get a low-pressure soaker-hose watering system going, but there isn’t money in the budget for those improvements just yet.

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  10. Jackie on September 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    We haven’t had rain since May. But that’s normal for Central CA. We probably won’t get any rain until October. I look forward to the first rain of the fall.

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  11. Jennifer Fisk on September 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    We haven’t had normal rainfall on the Maine coast so I’ve had to water twice. I use the sprinkler like yours on a 5 gallon bucket on full. The arc reaches just over the edge of my garden on all four sides. My well is 450 feet down so I have quite a resevoir to draw from. My soil is loam amended with sea food compost, sea weed, chicken house litter, bunny doo and I mulched with straw so only a few things have shown lack of water stress.

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  12. Karen on September 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    May I suggest two other sources of water for your gardens: central AC and dehumidifier. When our central AC was installed I purposely didn’t have it plumbed so the condensation went to a floor drain but used a short piece of flexible tubing that drains into a 5 gallon bucket. Instead of emptying the dehumidifier container down the drain I pour it into a bucket. I carry this water outdoors and use it to fill the bird bath, water potted plants or garden plants I want to make sure get through dry periods.

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    • Susy on September 2, 2010 at 10:05 pm

      I keep meaning to catch my AC condensation but haven’t gotten around to putting a bucket in the sump pump hole. We don’t have a dehumidifier or I would collect that water. Thanks for the tips.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Christy on September 3, 2010 at 3:41 am

    Hi there – I’ve been enjoying reading your blog over the past wee while. Here down in the southern hemisphere it’s been a wet winter, but we usually have at least a couple of months without rain in summer. I highly reccommend installing an irrigation system with soaker hoses and/or drip lines. Mine are under a thick layer of mulch and they use the least amount of water out of any system I’ve used. We supply all our own water (huge tanks to collect rain over winter, although we also have the luxury of a bore). It’s time consuming, and reasonably expensive to install but worth it! On my wish list is a soil probe which can measure soil moisture – that would be interesting to see how it varies over the seasons. Happy gardening.

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  14. amish bed frames on September 3, 2010 at 4:12 am

    It looks like that you are taking good care of your garden. I like your watering device. Where did you get that meter? I think I need to have that kind of device in my garden. I am sure with that thing everything is going to be so well.

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    • Susy on September 4, 2010 at 8:24 am

      I think I got it at the hardware store.

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  15. Corrie Carswell on September 3, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Here in Cincinnati things look terrible. I can water my yard with the rain barrel or the sprinkler. But I work as a gardener in the City Parks and it’s getting really bad. All we do is drag hoses around every day, trying to keep things from getting too stressed. We’re even starting to lose trees now. I’m hoping Earl will send us some rain!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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