For the past month, the weather forecasters have been delivering nothing but bright and wonderful prognostications with the exception that it is sometimes too warm and humid. Sunny skies and no rain have been the the repetitive mantra of their joyful predictions. Unfortunately the garden doesn’t see such a forecast as goodness as the lack of moisture has a crippling effect.
As I was touring Ann’s Place earlier this week, a few of the viburnum that I had planted last year looked as if they were about to give up the ghost. They were stressed in the Spring and early Summer by leaf-eating bugs and for much of July, August and September by sparse moisture.A blueberry bush was shriveled from no moisture and the lawn was brown. The lack of volunteers and a sprinkler system make plant survival a Darwinian struggle at Ann’s Place.
Everything changes with no rain. The soil is dry to the point where it appears and feels much like sand. Even the heavy clay composition of my yard crumbles and falls apart to the touch. The bottom of a pulled plant is bare as there is little moisture that will clump and hold the soil. Their tiny root hairs are dry and thirsty for liquid.
Water could solve the problem, but water is something in short supply. Our well is rather shallow and as a result does not have much storage. A few weeks ago I noticed all the water taps were beginning to spew brown and black particles. As I pulled each aerator, I could see its wire mesh caked with sediment (an indication that we were drawing too much water from the well.) The silt filter in the basement was also clogged. So we cleaned everything and started to use less water.
Instead of watering plants every day, we moved it to every other day. Our vegetable garden, potted flowers, window boxes and things that were not in the ground received priority and a deep watering. Fallow areas where I had not planted vegetables are dry, dusty weed-free expanses where nothing grows. For the first time in quite a few years, I will probably not plant a fall garden.
Everything else, however, had to make due with the tiny amount of moisture they could extract from the dusty soil. Each plant coped with it differently. Oaks were dropping small, light brown acorns. The hosta flowers bloomed and then immediately went to seed. The red chokeberries dried up before they had a chance to be eaten by migrating birds. The leaves were turning and beginning to fall from maples, ashes and cherries.
We are spoiled in the Northeast when it comes to water as the droughts suffered by the western part of this nation are rarely experienced. Our greenery is assumed and taken for granted; times such as this make me appreciate their plight even more. With any luck, we should get heavy rains in the next day or so. I’m looking forward to the mud.