Rainwater is the garden's life support system
By Farmer Bubba Scott
Aloha ya'll. How's your garden growin'?
I hope all those gardens out there are lookin' good. I also hope if you're not growin' anything, you're planning what you'll be growin' in your next garden. Good planning makes for good gardening.
I started this edition last week thinkin' about raised flower beds, but with all the rain we are having, I got to thinking about the importance of rain. Without rain, life would cease. Every living creature, including you and me, depends on water to survive. When it comes to gardening and farming, we need as much rain as we can get. Water benefits everything from seed starting to growing your favorite garden vegetables.
Have you ever thought about saving rain water for those days and weeks when it seems to never come? Rain water has so many more benefits than city water can provide. For starters, it's untreated water. City water has chemicals that make their way through water filters and into your garden. But rainwater is just good ole water, the pure H2O variety from the sky, and it is your garden's best refreshment.
I have two advantages on my farm. I have a well that I get water from and I also catch water in 55-gallon barrels. The rain I collect comes off my pole barn and the 'cloud' I created that is my open-air hot house (this is something I will describe further in the near future). I have collected enough rain water that I figure, if we didn't get any rain for 6 months, the Bubba Farm would do just fine..
BUBBA NOTE: During a good rain, if there's thunder and lightning, the nitrogen in the atmosphere rides piggyback on the rain into the ground. This is called nitrogen fixation. That's why your garden grows well and looks so good after a storm. I can tell when I've worked in the rain that my hair grows a little longer. I don't recommend this for those without hair. That's called a lightning rod..
Catchment systems to collect rainwater can be made of anything that will hold water. As mentioned, I use 55-gallon barrels. Each barrel has a hose spigot so it is easy to hook up a water hose. If you want something a little prettier, it can be purchased at your local building store or ordered online from seed and plant catalogues. But be ready to pay a pretty price.
After a little while, you’ll notice algae growin' in your barrels. This is ok. Algae is another form of nitrogen. Raising your barrel off the ground about 2 or 3 feet will give you good gravity flow. By now, you're asking what about mosquitoes in all that stagnant water? Farmer Bubba has that bug problem covered. I use BT, Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural compound. For mosquitoes, it's packaged as BT Kurstaki. BT can also be found under the commercial name of Dipel and Thuricide.
BUBBA NOTE: I've made a lot of BUBBA NOTES in the past, but this link to the BT site is one of the most important that I believe everyone should read. It will make you wonder why local agriculture doesn't use it. I can tell you one reason. There's so much money spent on chemicals to solve problems, that when something comes around that's all natural, won't hurt the environment and is safe to use, it gets the label 'not enough research' tagged to it.
You can purchase the BT mosquito packets at your local feed store. The repellent comes in little water-soluble packets. Every water container on my farm gets a BT packet. My 4-legged com- posting herd, April, Jelly, BoBo, and Lucy, the horses, and Willie, Katy, Suzanne and Dolly, the little donks; Duke and Freddy, the cats; and Ginny, my guinea guard chicken -- they all drink the BT water. Heck, I've even tried it and I'm still around to write about it..
When I start new seeds, they get rainwater. Until they go to the big garden, it's always the good ole liquid from the blue sky that is their daily drink. Trust me when I say there's nothing like rainwater for a healthy garden.
BUBBA NOTE: Another benefit to having rain barrels for your garden is they attract birds. Birds need a drink every once in a while to wash down that little horn worm that's been eating your plants. It also keeps 'em happy.
Instead of waiting for the rain, try storing it in barrels. It would be smart gardening to add a rain barrel at the corner of your house if you're growing your own food.
We're gettin' ready to turn a gardening page with the hot months of July and August creeping up on us.
Here's one last friendly reminder. This is seed starting time for Farmer Bubba. It's time to get your garden ready for new plant families by adding more compost, as much as you can, to the garden's soil.
With the combination of bountiful rain and new compost, your garden will be in prime growing state when it comes time to plant your fall greenery.
Enjoy the heat, and the rain while it's here. When you feel stuck in the house during the rain, sit down and think about what you're going to plant in the fall. Or think about the lessons you learned during the past growin' season. And if you've made some gardening mistakes, remember this: Failure is the greatest teacher. Don't walk out of class. A new day is on its way.
Aloha from the desk, on Farmer Bubba's Farm.
Do you have a gardening question for Farmer Bubba or a photo of your garden you would like to share? Email Bubba or add your question in the comment window below, and Bubba will try to reply as quickly as possible.
Latest from Mike S. GLOB Master
Bubba Scott Sunday, 01 July 2012 18:54 Comment Link
Hello Lisa. My barrels are 55 gallon and I add one packet around every 6 weeks. These packets dissolve, but you might want to move the water around a litte to mix it up. If you have smaller water bowls around for pets, break open a packet and add a little in the water. It doesn't take much. Trust me when I say this. I've been using BT for as long as I can remember and all of my animals are healthy. This is great stuff. And don't worry about getting some rain to fill your barrels, I'll come.
Lisa Friday, 29 June 2012 10:46 Comment Link
Hi Bubba...I just got my rain barrel yesterday, which means it probably won't rain in GNV again, and plan to install it this weekend. Relative to the BT packets, how often do you add a packet to the rain barrel? Monthly? We sure have enough of those 'skeeters around without me adding to the problem! I love your articles! lc
Bubba Scott Thursday, 28 June 2012 06:50 Comment Link
Suzanne and Katy, my little donks are still mad at me for not putting floaties on them.