Sunday, July 16, 2006

When it rains, it pours

When it's hot and dry, plants suffer. But even gardeners get drought-stressed: I'm a bad case – drought makes me cranky and anxious, even questioning my commitment to gardening.

This happens despite the fact that I grow mostly plants that can tolerate a lot of dryness. I get drought-stressed because I'm a perfectionist. My garden hasn't a hope in heck of looking its best if it never rains – a big concern when there are garden tours coming.

I also hate having to drag hoses around, trying to remember which plants need watering. (Anything recently planted that hasn't had time to develop good roots needs attention.) Not only that, I worry about running cisterns dry and burning out pumps. And if it doesn't rain, I have to buy extra water, as our well water has to be reserved for the house.

This year we had very little rain in May and June, which worried me because that's when most plants make their annual growth spurt. May brought less than 3 inches (2 inches and 8/10ths to be exact) and June was even drier (only an inch and three quarters). Luckily, temperatures stayed on the cool side, a big improvement over June 2005 when we had both drought and an early heat wave that lasted for days. Talk about high anxiety!

Last year, thunderstorms finally came to the rescue in July, and so it was last week too. We finally got rain – in buckets. It came down three times, twice torrentially: The week's total was - insert drumroll - 5 and ¾ inches!

The picture below shows the flooding down at our creek after the last bout of rain brought one-and-a-half inches overnight when the ground was already saturated.

That was in the morning. By afternoon, things were still soggy, but the flood waters had receded.

The rain was exactly we needed and it came in the nick of time to help the garden (and the gardener) weather the current heat wave. Thank you, thunderstorms! Sometimes you just get lucky.