Friday July 31, 2020

Are you also obsessively checking radar to see if it might rain anytime soon?
According to Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University, “July 1-15 rainfall was extremely variable, ranging from less than 25% of normal to more than 200% of normal. There were only two days during the first half of July without flash flooding or some type of severe weather in the Northeast.”

In these variable situations, and ever changing climate, it’s not always clear when and how best to water, or if the plants need it. Here is a 4 minute video about watering your garden:

While there are some universal tips (water in the morning, water at the base of the plant, water deeply and less often rather than shallowly and more often, etc.) it’s also important to know your soil. Testing how far the water has penetrated your soil using your trowel to dig a small hole is a good tip. One of the biggest factors for water infiltrating the soil is the texture of the soil (sand, clay, organic matter) and that is slightly different for every garden. Get to know your soil!

Given that our current Massachusetts conditions are bordering between “abnormally dry” and moderate drought, water conservation is also incredibly important. Collecting rainwater is a story for another time.

While it is easy to extol the benefits of drip irrigation as more efficient (less water is lost to evaporation), sprinklers, and rain on leaves, works to keep the plant tissues cool. When internal plant temperatures reach 115°F, plant tissues can die. On the up side, the lack of rain limits some fungal diseases, which tend to develop after long periods of leaf wetness.

As Jews, much of our religious practice is rooted in the rhythm of the seasons and agricultural practices. Many of our holiday celebrations are based on them. From Sukkot to Passover, as the grains are developing in the semi-arid grasslands of our biblical heritage, we insert daily prayers for rain into our practice. We recognize this reliance on rain water, and on the forces of nature to nourish our crops and our community. There is language to describe the early rain (Yoreh), heavy rains (Geshem), and later season rains (Malkosh).

As gardeners, we recognize how different types of rain penetrate our soils and nurture our plants. May we all be blessed with rain here and now in New England, the right kind in the right time, to soak through and infuse the roots of our crops.