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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?

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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.