Monday, April 23, 2012

Rethinking rain barrels in the community garden

I have written about the benefits of rain barrels several times in my blog, so I am no stranger to hauling water from barrel to garden. (Farmer's note, hauling water comes as second nature from a time when we had one hydrant far away from the family garden or animals thirsty for a drink).

I admit that when I saw two rain barrels installed in our community garden, I thought it was a quaint nod to sustainability but would probably not be used considering how close they were to the virtually unlimited water supply that was well-distributed via an underground piping system and six spigots throughout the garden, eliminating the need to carry water. I've changed my tune, however, now that I planted seeds a month before the garden water supply is functional.

One of two rain barrels in the American Family community garden.

With this year's particularly early spring, I planted radishes, cilantro, arugula and snap peas a good month before the water in our garden would be connected to the nearby fire hydrant. While it hasn't been a particularly dry spring, I wanted to be sure my seeds and later seedlings had plenty of water to thrive, which is where those rain barrels came in handy.

Radishes hiding under row cover - keeps bugs out, heat and moisture in.

During our early April garden cleanup, I installed the rain barrels. A week later, I planted  seeds and didn't need to wonder where I'd get water. This week I soaked in some transplants from the herb garden I am leaving when I move at the end of April. So even if the barrels aren't heavily relied upon during the summer when water is aplenty, for at least a month in the spring, they are welcome source of water.

Sprouting snap peas.

I soaked in transplanted anice hyssop, summer savory, greek oregano and garlic chives (not in the photo).

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