Water is a very important element for plants (and people). Water shortages seemed to be one of those California things. I sympathized with my California friends who were dealing with water issues for the past several years. I wasn’t worried for myself because I lived in the rainy northwest and in particular the foothills where 50 to 60 inches of rain was normal. I started to worry a couple weeks ago when our well went dry.
When we moved out to Old Goat Farm we had the well tested for quality and flow. We were told that the supply was unlimited because we had a spring fed well and were on the edge of wetlands. For over 30 years this was the case. This year we have gone since the end of April with almost no rainfall. It is not uncommon for us to get no rainfall from mid-July to mid-September but this year’s dry spell started more than 2 months early. This early drought combined with unusually high temperatures has cause the water table to drop. It has been above 90 more than 15 times and the normal is 3 days of 90 degree days for the whole year. Our average summer time high temperatures are usually in the mid 70’s, but this year well over 80. Each month we have set new records.
Now one year does not make a trend but if this is going to be a new normal I will have to do some adjusting. The last few weeks has presented itself as an opportunity to look at the garden and re-evaluate what we are growing. With not being watered at all for 2 weeks and the highs being in the 80’s I was surprised that it held up so well. Many of the late summer blooming perennials are more drought tolerant so that helped. I also compost regularly so that helped hold in moisture. That being said, it was evident pretty quickly which plants were real water hogs. Certain plants such as Astilbiodes, Kringashoma, and Dianathes will probably have to go. I do have a few spots that are naturally wetter so they may be moved there but I’m thinking I’ve grown them and don’t need to do that if they don’t work. A few others may be harder to give up like the Hydrangeas. It is such a foundation plant for the garden that it would be hard to eliminate. I just maybe don’t need 40 of them throughout the garden and could move my favorites into one bed where a drip system would minimize the water consumption.
I’m sure I will have plenty of time to contemplate a make-over for the garden as I go into the fall and put the garden to bed. This will present a whole new list of challenges. I just can’t put in drought tolerant plants because I’m sure we will still get more rain than other regions. The winter rain here can be a killer for plants that don’t like winter wet.
Over the weekend we got 2 inches of rain and all my rain barrels filled up in no time. I guess I will have to figure out storage for all the rain from the barn. More food for thought. Moving cautiously forward…..