I remember back when it used to rain. I distinctly recall looking at computer weather maps with angry red, orange, and even purple rain pounding all of eastern Massachusetts. There were days when we awakened to a soft, gentle rain that soaked the soil down eight or ten inches.
But not recently.
Medfield in a drought. A Stage 2 drought according to the U.S. Weather Monitor. New England is 25% under its normal rainfall – 6 ½ inches short and counting – with a long term trend for more of the same. Our town has imposed strict watering guidelines that will likely get even more draconian in August.
|Water collected from the air|
conditioner goes into jugs
If we lived in an apartment or condo, we’d shrug, water the plants on our deck, and count our blessings. If we lived in a house with a long-established garden, we’d ride out the dry spell and consider ourselves lucky. But we don’t live in a condo and our garden is brand new – nothing in is more than a year old. We have a dozen young trees that are just starting to establish root systems. We have sixty or more shrubs and several hundred newly-planted perennials. If we don’t water, they’ll die.
|Almost all of New England is dry|
So, here is what we do. Every morning at 5:30 a.m. we are dressed and out in the garden. Our four rain barrels would hold 200 gallons of water if there had been rain to fill them, but they’ve been dry since Bastille Day. (That storm at the end of July that the radio promised would drop two to four inches of rain went south of us. Rhode Island got lucky. We got sprinkles.) So we collect the water condensate from our air conditioner. We collect the water that we ran while the shower warmed up. We pool the water in which we washed vegetables saved in a pail. There are mornings when those three activities generate six or seven gallons of water.
|It just hasn't rained around here.|
Double-click for an enlargement.
To get the rest of the water we need, we begin filling re-purposed cat litter jugs with tap water. One day, we water the plants in the front of the property. The next day, we water the plants in the back. Each tree, shrub, and perennial gets a specific allotment of water. There is no waste. We’ve built little berms around the plants to ensure that there is no runoff. Betty applies the water, I refill the jugs and run them to where they’re needed next. And ‘run’ is an accurate descriptor: I carry two, three-gallon jugs at a time, and a jug is filling while I sprint to the next drop point.
|Yesterday, the radio spoke of 2-4" of|
rain today. It went south of us!
The jug-watering brigade goes on for up to two hours because we also have to water our vegetable plot two miles distant. (There, we’re allowed to use a hose, but Betty is just as precise in her watering.) At 7:30 or so, we line up the empty containers. We are both covered in sweat and ready for a shower.
Where, of course, we will start collecting the water for tomorrow morning…