And The Rains Fell

raindrops on grasses

Raindrops, like stringed beads on ornamental grasses.

Gardeners love rain. It’s a key building block for growing things: We complain about it, (the not having it usually), and it’s what farmers worldwide pray for, as long as they don’t get too much, like places out west, and Toronto have had this year. Rain can be a good news/bad news thing for farmers, like this one in the Calgary area this summer:

“I probably lost maybe two to three per cent of my land, which is under water. So we did lose a bit, but the other 90 per cent of my crop needed it. As far as my farm goes, we were happy to see the rain,” Vandervalk said.

There are few things I like more than being indoors watching rain come down in a hard, vertical stream; especially after having planted that day, or after prolonged drought. Sideways rainfalls aren’t as satisfying: vertical is good, for covered-porch sitting, or being indoors with the windows open, a feast for sore ears. Last night, rain fell outside my open bedroom window, and it made me completely happy with my particular spot of the world.

While gardens and farmers’ fields need rain, a hard one, can be a problem, especially on sloping ground. The wild rains we’ve had this summer created deep ruts of erosion, destroyed stream banks, pulled shrubs and tree trunks into creeks. This type of rain says: “I’ve got no time to seep in, I’m coming through, step aside!”

My garden slope resists being watered: rain or anything I dump on it from the garden hose runs right off. The runoff ends up on the sidewalk, or the road if I don’t watch out. The solution: mulch. Even if I don’t mulch my whole garden, I do always put a thick layer of mulch on the slope. It’s only that that helps anything stay alive in that inclined spot. Mulch softens the impact of the water as it hits, slowing down the water drops, allowing it to seep into the soil.

The slow seep of infiltration is what the earth wants: nature’s most effective moisture distribution system. Our cities’ hard, impermeable surfaces, cause havoc in hard rains. The water runoff from a severe rainstorm has no where to go, so floods happen. Green roofs, parking lots with permeable paving, pervious concrete, rain barrels and rain gardens all help mitigate the rainwater runoff problem. With crazy weather all over the world, any small actions we take can offset an unexpected deluge. A few bags of mulch can go a long way to not only keep our local gardens happy, but to help the earth maintain its proper water balance.

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