We decided last year after a four-week spell without rain that left some of our charges stressed and fruitless that we couldn’t let fear of an outrageously high water bill keep us from watering. So, we have two long hoses — one for the front yard; one for the back — that trickle day in and day out. Every four to eight hours, they get moved. But not until the lucky recipient is surrounded by thoroughly damp soil.
Where we can, we create zones so multiple plants can benefit from a single drip session.
The fruit trees and tomatoes get the most attention. We can’t afford to lose the young trees, and plucking off baby tomatoes suffering from blossom-end rot breaks my heart.
But with plenty of mulch and high calcium supplements, we’ve staved off the worst of it this season. We lost only a handful of tomato sets before we got the hose rotation down, and so far, the distressed yearling pear tree is staying with us through sheer force of will.
Most of the vegetables have had to make due with gray water saved from doing dishes in the kitchen sink. We collect the hot, sudsy water in pails and let it cool before lugging it over to whoever needs it most.
As I haul the life-giving refreshment bucketful by bucketful, I wonder what my great-grandmother would think. She left Poland as a teenager because she didn’t want to spend her life lugging water out to the men in the fields!
“I hit the basil this morning,” my husband, Kevin, will call after my retreating back and snap me back to the present.
So I’ll head instead to the freshly transplanted cole crops — young, tender bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower that have staved off predation from the four-footed neighborhood nibbler, thanks to our new citrus oil spray.
When the buckets are empty, I check elsewhere to see who should be next in line.
The beans and squash are so bushy they create their own shade, and the grapes seem more disturbed by the ravages of Japanese beetles than the lack of water.
The peppers actually are loving this weather — especially the Asian and South American varieties that thrive in this heat.
(But I do hit them with gray water about once a week.)