There is no complete replacement for natural rain.
With the recent rains we have been getting it appears that a drought this summer might not be happening. That means less dragging hoses around all parts of my garden. I have a widespread garden, so watering is not as simple as turning on a sprinkler.
Have you noticed how plants seem more radiant and fresh after a rain than a hose watering? No matter how much you irrigate, the plants won’t look as nice as after a good rain.
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One reason is because of the salts and minerals that are brought up from below ground when you irrigate. This forms a less than perfect environment in the soil for the plants to grow. This balance can interfere with the chemistry of the plant to the point where water uptake might be affected. Irrigation is preferred to no water at all, but it’s not as ideal as rain.
Another huge plus to natural rain comes in the form of thunderstorms. We have nitrogen in the air at all times, but it’s in the form of a two atom particle which cannot be used as is. The energy in lightening causes the atoms to split and the nitrogen can then be used by the plants. This is important because humans also need the nitrogen that plants provide.
While on the subject of nitrogen, many people have learned of the importance of nitrogen fixing plants. These plants are in the legume family and include clover and beans. Legumes take naturally occurring nitrogen in the soil, which cannot be used as is, into nodules in the roots where it’s released as available nitrogen after the plant dies. By rotating legume crops in your garden you are able to provide nutrients for your plants in a naturally occurring form. Typically, farmers relied on this to help offset fertilizer costs.
There is a great deal more to be learned about nitrogen if you want to research the science of it. I find it fascinating, even if it is difficult to understand. But the proof is in the pudding, as the old saying goes. When I walk through my garden after a thunderstorm, I can see the increased vitality of the plants. Increased vitality leads to increased yield. And that makes this gardener a happy camper!
On a side note, anyone who knows me at all knows that, as a gardener, I am big on vegetables but not so much when it comes to flowers.
I tell people that I always tried to pay attention in any classes or seminars I took about flower gardening, but that my heart just wasn’t into it. I try to learn a little more about landscape plantings so I might be of some help when people have questions about that sort of thing. After all, flowers can be quite breathtaking in their beauty and presentation.
Recently, the Master Gardeners of Michiana hosted the 19th annual Garden Tour. This year the toured gardens were in Elkhart, with seven of the 10 located within walking distance of the hospitality center on the west side of town. To the relief of those on the planning committee, the day was blessed with sunshine and mild temperatures: perfect for strolling through people’s backyards looking at some pretty incredible landscaping.
Obviously, any gardens chosen by the committee had to have a fair amount of wow power. While I’m not about to try to describe each garden, let me say the committee did a great job. Certainly the homeowners who work so hard to maintain these beautiful areas deserve a lot of credit.
While I’m active in different types of Master Gardener events, I did not help with the garden tour. I never would’ve considered touring flower gardens an activity that I’d enjoy, but I really did like this one. Interacting with my Master Gardener friends is great fun, but touring the gardens with my wife in a beautiful neighborhood in pleasant weather was also an enjoyable time.