Vegetables: Not Without Water

This time of year, the day starts early and ends late. It starts and ends outdoors.

These are the HHH days, where heat, haze and humidity spawn afternoon showers–if we’re lucky. If we’re not, the garden takes an extra hour of attention at least every other day to keep it watered.

No less than for us humans, there is no vegetable life without water. it provides a water skeleton that supports the plant (or not: you’ll know when plants wilt they are dehydrated.) Plants use water like we use blood to get goodies in and badies out, to plump up fruits and make more sun-gathering leaf surface. The water footprint of our garden is huge!

The Water Footprint of Food

For these thousands of gallons needed in a summer of vegetable gardening, we generally have enough–or almost enough–rain. In dry years, we are fortunate to have the creek as a source, only fifty feet away from our very limited very fenced garden.

Caveat: the creek can dry up–like it did to the very bedrock–in 2002. Without the creek, it’s game over for the gardenr. This season has started out dry and I’m concerned the creek will last until the garden has produced.

Our small rectangle is confined to the bit of level land locked between the county road, the hillside, the parking spot and the septic field. That doesn’t leave us much garden, but it seems big enough when everything has to be watered by hand.

Ann, never one to shun avoidable hard work or find any merit in efficiency, would fetch water, bucket at a time, from the creek. Brawny as she is, you can imagine how many gallons she carries per load.  A full watering takes at least 30 gallons. That’s a lot of fetching.

I, OTOH, will generally find a way to avoid wasting  time and effort, so years ago, I set up this little pump system. The short green length of garden hose is my supply. It draws water from a deep-enough pool created by a temporary dam of rocks across Goose Creek.

The little pump and lawn-and-garden battery do the work. A battery charge will pull a hundred gallons or more. The mason jar is used to prime the system by pouring water down the intake before connecting the pump clips to the battery. The bucket covers it all to keep it dry. Not exactly rocket science.

What I have not done but have discussed with myself is finding a larger reservoir for higher-capacity storage than the filled 35 gallon garbage can that sits on the level of the garden. I’m just not sure how HIGH my little pump will lift. A 300 gallon farm tank up on the hill would gravity-feed a soaker hose system.

Or maybe we’ll get rain.

Where the Water Goes

Goose Creek: near the coiled western-most reach of the Roanoke

I’m finding threads all over my computer that if pulled, would lead someplace maybe worth going–digital scraps, memos, and saved pointers to all sorts of things I’m interested in pursuing but mostly never will, or am increasingly feeling I’m the only one who gives a rodent’s rump about such geo-eco-trivia.

This screen shot of the Roanoke River drainage came after my two days spent on Rock Castle Creek, when I was wondering where the water goes and how it gets there and about what it sees along the way.

Turns out, the water from Goose Creek meets the water from Rock Castle Creek since the Roanoke and the Dan rivers find each other at what today is Kerr Reservoir and once was an undammed confluence of two sizable rivers. I wonder if there are any pictures of those two rivers flowing together before the dam was built–in what year? More digging required.

So what? I don’t know how to put this factoid in global perspective except that we start understanding and caring about world water by knowing our own watersheds.

The USGS Name Information Service (GNIS) is a good place to start. Just type in the creek or river closest to you for a map. Follow it to its end. Amazing how many people never think about and don’t know where the water comes from, or where it goes.

Here’s the GNIS map for the Dan River just so you can see what a river map looks like.

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Staying Afloat

A Well-Watered Winter
A Well-Watered Winter

I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about water lately–thankful for the abundance we have just now, sad for the water poverty of peoples and the planet to come. I’m struggling to find a working stance somewhere between parched by despair and drenched with hope. Is it enough to turn off the tap when we brush our teeth? How much will individual responsibility  alter the game if it only means changing habits within our homes  or in our day to day choices with regard to consumption of water for private? That’s important for sure, but it is not enough.

Like so many other major issues facing humanity, bottom up can help, but only top-down will turn the tide.

What will it take (I think we’re getting a pretty good idea of that now from inaction in Copenhagen) to shock us into international governmental action to do the difficult, costly thing today for the effects it will have on people who cannot vote today’s leaders and corporate CEOs back in office?

Do you think as a species we have the intelligence, courage or wisdom to exert our collective power on our leaders to save our own kind?

I guess for this answer, I’m trending more towards the parched end of the spectrum after watching the story play out since 1970. I see puddles of reason, vision  and hope, but seas of apathy, desperation and self-interest.

They say life began in isolated pools rich in nutrients and an energy source. Maybe that is humanity’s future: small ponds of creatures working with nature, living within their means, doing the right thing, swimming against the currents of their times, resilient, creative, staying afloat.

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