Friday, February 3, 2012

"How much rain did you get?"

If you're growing vegetables, you're going to be asked this question -- regularly.  And no, the answer is not, "Tons!  I've got puddles everywhere!"

Seems like a lifetime ago that I never even thought about how much rain I had gotten.  This was before I had a garden.  Now, I can't imagine a life where 'rainfall' is not a permanent topic of conversation.  

The post office in our little town is the main gathering place, and we always talk about the weather (among other things ;)).  If there is a 'big' rain, it is a 'big' deal around here.  Not only do we discuss it at the post office, but we're just as likely to talk about it again at the grocery store.  My phone actually rings with calls from friends and neighbors to see how much rain I got -- which can vary greatly from one part of town to the other!

In early spring during the first year I was growing a vegetable garden, my cousin called to see how much rain I had gotten.  I said, "Tons!  I've got puddles everywhere!"  This was hilarious to her, as she has been gardening and farming all her life.  It was in that conversation that my dear cousin Carolyn told me I needed to get a rain gauge. 

People, I am here to tell you that the rain gauge is a game-changer for your garden.  Ohmy.  That first year I had a rain gauge, I was so excited to see how much rain I had gotten that I would actually run outside, while it was still pouring, just to see how it was coming along.  I gave them as gifts to everyone I knew who didn't already have one of these fine instruments, just for the fun of being able to call them and ask how much rain they had gotten -- such an easy way to share joy!

Yet it wasn't until I started writing down when it rained and how much it rained that I saw the true value of the rain gauge.  Here is the game-changing part:  most vegetables require 1" of water per week, but how do you know if you've had 1" of rain if you don't measure it and write it down?  In other words, how do you know if you need to water? 

Before I started recording rainfall, I was letting my plants tell me when they needed water.  Sadly, they were already in distress by the time they spoke up -- which is not good if you want a lush, healthy garden.  Within 3 weeks of recording rainfall (and watering accordingly), my garden was as beautiful as any I had seen.  I was delighted, and so was my garden :)

 Below is a haiku I wrote, which expresses my true sentiments about the wonderful rain gauge:

Latest measurement ---
oh the joy for man and bean!
bounty overflows.
                                                                 - Lauren Graves


  1. Very good article Lauren. This is the type of information that "new" & old gardeners need to know and enjoy reading about.
    Best of luck!!