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Surviving a Hot Dry July

Every long cold winter I dream of a hot summer. I dream of warm, sunny days spent at the beach with friends and family. I think of beer and margaritas and refreshing dips in the lake. I dream of t-shirts and sandals and never wearing my parka again.

I hardly ever think of scorching hot days hiding inside and staying away from the burning sun.

During the downpours of Spring, it is hard to even imagine 30 days or more without rain, of a time when the grass burns to a crisp and the vegetables struggle to grow.

But that's where we are now, in the middle of a heatwave. Luckily, because we have been here before, I spent the Spring collecting rain in our 3 water tanks. We have one collecting water off the barn, one off the house and the final one collecting water off the new potting shed.

In this post, I talked about my obsession with collecting rainwater. Ever since our first hot and dry July, I made it my mission to learn all I could about how to stockpile water because it is horrible to be at the mercy of a drought. My family motto is Never Unprepared, which despite being a double negative, is still an intelligent way to live life.

But even though we have collected almost 3000 litres of water (800 gallons), the tank closest to the vegetables in now officially empty.

Generally, anything planted in the ground, especially if it is over a year old, has deep roots and can survive (within reason) a dry July. But anything in a raised bed or newly planted, even with mulch, needs 1" of water a week.

That means, if we are to keep watering the cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, and peppers, I have to move water. But this is not new to us. In fact, because some of our beds at the front of the property are over 80 feet away from the house, we installed two small bins and attached soaker hoses.

rain barrel, diy, soaker hose
DIY rain barrel with soaker hose

It is a bit cumbersome, but rather than walking back and forth 12 or so times with 2 - 7 litres (2 gallons) watering cans, I fill up a 132 litre (35 gallons) water container, drive it over to the bins and fill them up. We have already done this once this season and we may have to do it again if we don't get the rain they forecast for the weekend.

rain water collection, rain barrel, electric golf cart
Pumping water from the large tank to a smaller tank
golf cart, water tank, rain barrel
Using gravity to move water from tank to rain barrel
golf cart
Daisy, the electric golf cart

This is Daisy, our second-hand electric golf cart and trusty sidekick to Tom. She is the ultimate multipurpose vehicle. She takes us to the beach, moves all sorts of stuff around the property, and even takes us golfing on occasion.

What is new this year is moving water out to the vegetable garden. There is no power out there so even if I can get the water into the small bin and drive it out across the yard, I can't create the necessary water pressure using gravity to transfer it to the tank. The back of Daisy is lower than the tank. (We do have 200 ft of extension cords but we thought this solution would be more fun).

john deere tractor, vegetable garden, rain water collection
Using Tom the Tractor to move water

Of course, even at this point, we still have to manually water the beds.

This year.

Next year will be a whole different story. You just have to spend a couple of years moving water in the hot sun to be driven to find a better solution.

I am hoping to install a bucket type watering system at the end of each bed. Either a soaker hose or pvc piping would be spread out over the bed and covered with mulch. Using gravity, I would fill each bucket with water and have it slowly disperse the water throughout the bed.

It still requires manually filling the buckets but this first step would reduce the back and forth with watering cans and ensure that the roots, not the leaves, get the right amount of water.

Of course, once we get solar power for the shed, well then, the skies the limit. I'm thinking of a permanent hose system with timed water distribution based on moisture levels in the soil and an app that gives me status updates to my phone.

We may be living in the country but we are still techy nerds at heart.

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