This is a guest post by Farmgirl of http://farmgirlschool.wordpress.com
May 1, 2013
It was a beautiful morning yesterday. The calm before the storm. The chickens at Debbie’s house were playing, her chocolate lab waited patiently for us outside the garden gate, and all was well in the greenhouse for my “farming without killing plants” lesson.
In the outside beds we planted rows of carrots, cauliflower, and kale. The kale we planted a month ago never came up probably due to our fanatical weather and the extreme cold temperatures. This time should work! It’s May 1st for crying out loud!
Then I helped her prepare a bed for planting. A lesson like no other. She sprayed it down very well, puddles welled up, and the soil was lovely and damp. We turned the soil with a spade. Dry. The ground was dry! I sprayed it really well for a second time. Turned it with the spade, dry. Debbie mentioned that this scenario is the very reason many gardens to do not succeed. We sprayed it once again and it still was not damp through and through. The fourth time did the trick. My lesson? Never assume that because the top layer is wet that anything below is drinking water! Always use a water gage or the poor (wo)man’s water gage…your finger. The soil should be damp up to the second knuckle, if not, it needs water! I came straight home and turned the sprinklers on!
This is a long time idea in my head that I have to reverse. Reading gardening magazines and books for 20+ years has taught me one thing….don’t over water! It causes diseases, fungal stuff, root rot and possibly world hunger. I have adhered to that sentiment with fervency. Don’t over water! Here is the thing they never specified, they aren’t talking about Colorado or other dry areas. It’s so dry here your nose may start bleeding at a moment’s notice, so dry my lotion flies off the table at the shop, so dry weeds died last year here! One would really have to work at it to over water in a dry state like this. I have been more diligent, twice daily checks on the soil in the garden. The reason I have NEVER had a carrot germinate is because the soil must remain moist the entire time until it gets its foothold. So, my soil has been consistently wet. It will need more once the roots spread down and need more drinks. The radishes have germinated in thanks.
In my garden, there are onions and garlic coming up, the herbs have returned, last years onions that never came up are making a grand display in the wrong bed, and the cold crop seeds are slumbering quietly just beneath the surface which I hope by this weekend will be light carpets of tiny greens.
Debbie’s herbs are so happy in her greenhouse they were jumping ship. Comfortably spreading out and lounging all over the bed. Because a good chunk of them needed to be evicted, I was the proud new recipient of twelve pots of oregano and cilantro. Which brings me to a great way to spread the wealth among farmers. Wendy brought me a few chive plants she split off, Diane is bringing me borage. Don’t worry about having herbs that spread all over, split them up, stick them in a pot and give as instant gifts!
The original article may be found here: http://farmgirlschool.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/farming-lessons-turn-on-the-water/