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Monday, July 23, 2007

Wet or Dry - You Choose

If you were given a choice, would you choose "too dry" or "too wet" in the garden?

Is it better to garden around the raindrops, dashing about when the rain finally stops, working in the mud with giant rain-gorged slugs looking over your shoulder?

Or is it better to spend all of one's time in the garden watering the plants, making potentially landscape-changing decisions when you choose which plants will get water and which will just have to tough it out?

The first answer most of us come up with is probably "neither, give me just enough rain for my region". But that is not one of the choices today.

Last year, I got rain when I needed rain in my own gardens and will always remember 2006 as a good year for rain.

This year, as most know, here in the midwest of the United States it is "too dry". Not "full-out drought dry", yet, just too dry. I've had to spend considerable "gardening time" setting up sprinklers and making sure key plants got enough water.

But there are gardeners in places like Texas (of all places!) and Great Britain who are dealing with too much rain, flooding rains in some places.

Unfortunately, we don't get a choice on the weather, we just have to deal with the weather we get as best we can. As Charles Dudley Warner, author of My Summer in a Garden, the June-July selection of the Garden Bloggers' Book Club said, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."

For my container plantings, I choose the amount of water they get and for the most part, they get the same amount of water each year because I water them daily, unless it rains that day. The picture above is of my pineapple lily, in a container, well-watered, and starting to bloom.

When it doesn't rain, I water the vegetable garden once a week with an oscillating sprinkler. I have one that is just the right size to water the whole garden from one place, at one time.

Other plants, like these candy lilies, are right by the patio where I water the containers, so I've been watering them fairly often, too.

For other perennials, shrubs, trees, and yes, even the lawn, I water mostly when I see signs of severe wilting or stress due to lack of water, paying closer attention to those perennials that were divided and replanted this spring. I sometimes wonder why I regularly water the plants in containers, when at the end of the year, most of them will end up in the compost bin, and don't water plants that I expect to return in full glory again next spring.

And everytime I hear the weatherman say that there is rain coming in a few days, I try to hold off watering, hoping that the upcoming rain will be the rain that catches us up to more normal amounts of rainfall. So far, they haven't caught us up, but there is always that next cloud coming from the west that might!

So, back to the original question, if you could choose to do something about the weather, and the two choices were "too wet" or "too dry", which would you choose?

15 comments:

Heather said...

Definitely too dry, you can always water, it's tough to remove water from a saturated garden. It's like which do you prefer for air temperature, too hot or too cold. I'm a too cold girl. You can always add layers, if you're taking off clothes at some point you're close to naked and you can only show so much skin at work!

Pam/Digging said...

I prefer too much rain to too little, especially because Austin gardens usually suffer from too little in the summers. This summer, however, is my dream summer as far as rain is concerned. Bring it on! So long as the garden has good drainage, of course, which is the real trick, isn't it?

Bev said...

I'm with the "dry" side. You can always add water and I detest slugs! My plants are selected with our semi-arid climate in mind. So when we get wet weather they flop all over the place. Just like me!

Gina said...

I think I prefer wet because that gives me a reason to blow off working outside. BUT, I think my plants prefer the dry side. There have only been a couple of times this summer that we've had an extended rainy period and it seems like my kitchen garden looks like it's coming down with a fungus or something afterward. But, hey, I've only been gardening for like 3 days so what do i know ;)

Wicked Gardener said...

Since all the plants I like would prefer to grow in a lake, I'd say too much rain. It is hurricane season in Florida, so I should be careful of what I wish for!

jodi said...

MMm. That's easy--too wet--because I deal with wet all the time. We're on clay (and rock) with springs running through the area. We have fog (of the thick, pristine, cool and clammy Bay of Fundy variety.) I have been dealing with this for eight years so I'm used to it--amending the soil with compost, etc; building a bed with real good drainage for the fussbudgets; working with plants that can handle long cold wet springs, often lots of wet in the summer. I prefer mud to dust. It's cause I'm a Maritimer, of course, with salt water in my blood.:-)

Annie in Austin said...

Well...if there's piped water available so I can hand water, and if I can afford to pay for it... I guess I'd choose too dry. It gives you more control and there are definitely less insects, diseases and overgrown weeds to deal with, as well as less lawn-mowing.

I may have mentioned this before, but when the owner of a wonderful Austin organic farm was interviewed, she said that irrigating in a dry year gave them much better produce than in seasons when nature provided adequate rainfall... too many bugs & slugs, molds and fungus running rampant, and just touching wet plants spreads rust. That's how it feels in my garden tonight... as the thunder rolls, another 3/4 inch falls on our saturated soil, and the native plants rot and turn black.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Too dry. I would rather pack drought-tolerant plants in tighter to try to get a lush look than deal with all of the wet, sticky, bugginess. (And yes, that is a very funny statement given my Blogger name! lol.)

steven said...

I'll go with dry.

I'm already cheap with the water anyway, everything gets watered at the base for five seconds, unless its greens, they get an overhead sprinkling for thirty second for the whole bed. If it got any drier, I'd just start harvesting my gray water.

I'm looking into building a gray water/rain harvesting system anyway, free water is free water.

Carol said...

All... I can't believe it but it is almost a 50-50 split. Five say too dry, and four say too wet. But the reasons are different. Interesting!

Heather... You are right, you can't remove 'wet' from a garden like you can add 'wet'.

Pam/Digging... Yes, drainage is key if you wish for 'too wet'. Of course, your 'too wet' may be normal someplace else.

Wicked Gardener... welcome, I don't think I've seen you comment here before. I'll have to check out your blog before a big hurricane washes you away!

Jodi... you can take the girl away from the ocean but can't take the ocean away from the girl. I can understand how growing up by the sea you would get used to water!

Annie in Austin... I agree, if you have a hose to water, and the money to pay for the water, which reminds me I'm not looking forward to seeing my next water bill!

Blackswamp_Girl... Yes, there is a certain irony to you choosing 'too dry'!

Steven... Do you actually count the seconds? I'd love to have a rain collection system, but here in the 'burbs, that might send my neighbors over the edge!

Thanks all for weighing in on the question of 'too wet' or 'too dry'. Any one else have an opinion?

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

John Curtin said...

After last years drought and this years rain I'd say if I had to choose/could choose - too wet. The spuds will love it, the salads responded, the peas didn't mind and the beans are greedy. But then I've sandy loamy soil so it percolates away pretty quickly.

Andrea/Heavy Petal said...

I live in a rainforest, so I'm used to wet. Saves you from watering, and everything's so green and lush all the time. Wet places are generally warmer, too. That said, the cold doesn't kill plants here, just the rain!

Carol said...

Now it is 6 for "too wet" and 5 for "too dry", still no clear majority!

littledog said...

This is our third summer here, and we've already been through a drought last year, and the 40 days of "spring" rain this year. I'd take rain over drought any day.

gintoino said...

well, I live in a mediterranean climate (southern Portugal) wuere we have drought for at least 3-4 months (from June to September) and I can tell you I would rather have the too dry cenario. You can always had water, and with the right choice of plants you can still have a very nie garden without using that much water