Just Add Water
by Jennifer Weiss -- July 11th, 2012
My flowers are drooping, my grass has turned brown and I can literally hear my vegetables begging me for more water. It makes me a little sad to see them in this state, but with temperatures in the 90’s and 100’s, there is only so much I can do to keep them healthy and robust. Or is there?
A few years ago, as water restrictions were enforced for the city of Raleigh, I invested in a rain barrel. At first, I watered all of my plants daily from the rain that had collected in the barrel and felt the smug satisfaction that one feels when conserving … take THAT water restrictions! My plants were happy, I was happy and I am guessing that in some very small way, Mother Earth was happy.
As the years went on, however, my precious rain barrel became less of a source of sustenance for my plants and more of a source of entertainment for my two daughters as they began to create a variety of soups that only a mother could love. Soups made from flower petals, rocks, leaves and oh yes, mud. The rain barrel provided hours of enjoyment for my kids, but alas, it was neglected as a conservation mechanism.
And then the 100 degree heat hit Raleigh.
Although North Carolina is not officially under drought conditions and there are no water restrictions in place, the continued heat made me fear that our water supply was diminishing. One day, as I looked out at my wilting plants and brown lawn, I turned back to my old friend – the rain barrel. There he stood, full of water and ready to tackle the heat. It was if he was saying “Enough of the playing, let’s get down to business.”
For a few days, this new plan worked out perfectly. There was more than enough water in the barrel for my plants and my garden. Everyone thrived. Everyone was happy. I was a conservationist again. And then it happened … my rain barrel was dry. It, too, had succumbed to the heat.
The ironic thing about rain barrels is that they require water just like the plants. They can hold it a bit longer of course, but in the end, no rain means no water. And so, I made the painful decision to water with (gasp) the hose. I felt more than a little bit guilty as I looked over at my empty rain barrel with the hose in my hand, but I solemnly told myself that this was only temporary. Soon, the rain barrel would be full again, and the hose could be put away.
Sure enough, last night we had some rain. With the natural watering they received, the plants are happy and well nourished. Cautiously, I glanced into the rain barrel. It was full. Welcome back, old friend, I’ve missed you.