The Crop Report | Balancing Water and Unexpected Bursts
- Jun 21, 2023
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Man, it’s been a hot, dry lead up to summer here on the farm and nary a drop of rain! It’s the summer struggles of farming and gardening for so many of us and this year has certainly been taxing on all watering systems. I’ve learned over my years of growing that most of us over water our early sprouted babies but under deliver this vital need on established plants. It can feel like a hard balance to master.
We use lots of watering methods here on the farm from drip line to slowly, deeply soak the soil, sprinklers to cover large planting ground, and hand watering for the gentlest of needs to name a few. We’ve been more mindful than ever to keep a constant flow of hydration to all of our plantings and have worked hard to prevent dry out of soil…you should see us doing the sprinkler shuffle!
We have also learned a rhythm for watering that feels less taxing on our rural well and better absorption by doing a rotation of watering and allowing our drip systems to run overnight. Typically most folks who use drip line don’t allow it to run long enough for a measurable water. As the name implies it’s a very slow drip and in order to get the best soaks long stretches overnight in the cool air allow the water to be best retained. It also prevents me from being awake to watch the messy puddles at the connecting joints (yes they all leak).
We’ve also taken other approaches to maximizing the retention of water in our soil. Like leaves! I’m going to sing their praises once again. They are truly garden gold! A nice covering of leaves holds lots of moisture at soil level and leeches healthy nutrients to boot! They will break down and add healthy inert matter to your soil and help prevent weeds! We can learn a lot if we look at how Mother Nature does it. There's a very good reason those forest floors are covered in leaves and prolonged dry spells seem not to affect those areas as strongly.
We also have been slowly working on shade plantings. Trying to break up the wide open land with some larger, more established plant will help to cool the land in the shade and slow the transpiration. It’s a long term game but a worthy cause as this resource becomes more scarce.
As mindful as we have been of watering you can’t prevent the unforeseen and this weekend in the middle of the night on Father’s Day the main line from the well to the entire farm burst in my basement. Luckily we caught it a few hours later but the water had already climbed a solid 3.5 feet. I ended up calling the fire department after waking the entire family and asking for help. What a way to spend Father’s Day! We got the lines repaired and the water back on in time to jump right back into our watering rotations! And boy weren’t we lucky as the thousands of hybrid mums arrived on a full tractor trailer!
I’m sitting here writing this as the sky finally opens up and gives the land a long awaited drink. We do our best to sustain and maintain life but the magic of the land drinking from the sky almost reveals itself immediately. It can provide something a garden hose just can’t.
While a rainy week leading up to this weekend's Red Wings Roots music festival might not sound ideal we will gladly be jumping in any newly formed puddles and thanking the heavens for a little hydration from above.XOXO, Jess