All life on Earth needs water, and all my work building raised Hugelkultur beds to conserve water has been missing… water.
Yesterday had drizzle on and off, just enough to make it unpleasantly chilly to work damp. I woke up to rain this morning. Actual water. Free to me water. Elixer of life. I have 3 days of rain forecasted this week. New Mexico doesn’t usually get frog drownders like Texas, or endless drizzle like Washington, but more often a gentle rain that seeps down into my sandy soil. Life.
One of my jobs in the circular economy is to find ways to slow the water draining away between free water events long enough to keep my plants alive and healthy enough to be productive. The easiest way is to rely mostly on deep rooted trees and shrubs. Native perennials too have deeper root systems, and frequently thicker roots that hold water, and small leaves that transpire less water or waxy coated leaves. Native annuals come up in the rain, bloom, set seed quickly, and die back when it gets dry.
For the most part, garden vegetables are not fast enough for New Mexico’s water cycle. This year I ordered much shorter season garden annuals to mimic native annuals. I also just planted perennial daylilies with their water and food storage nodules in the root system. Potatoes are a nice example of root storage… and they will be planted this week.
This is a good rain for this time of year, and I still have damp soil from the heavy winter snows at deeper levels for trees, shrubs, and perrenials. This rain is great for my cool season vegetable crops and I will get seed in the ground between today and Tuesday. The weathermen predict another moister than usual summer and I have a monsoon season around July and August to grow corn and beans. Life is good.
In Texas I mulched and enriched the soil, and rarely watered anything, but even there I planted right before rain. In Seattle I built low raised stone beds to keep my plants from drowning between occasional rays of sunshine, but still planted with a fresh rain. In New Mexico I use Hugelkultur beds to conserve our rare free water and plant with a delightful rain. It is a good practice in part because tap water is toxic and in part because it saves on the water bill.
Water is life and I feel the impulse to conduct a good rain dance.