Anyone else's gardens drying up?

JustJoeyGirl(z5 NY)July 25, 2005

I am about at wits end here. My gardens are crispy. Anyone else have gardens that are caving in to the heat and lack of rain here in the HV? Know any raindances? Maybe if I plant a few plants that have the 'name' rain in them I may get lucky? Unfortunately (and fortunately) we have a well. I am unable to keep up with watering everything this season for fear of runnng the well has happened twice already this season. We are at 360 feet already.. Normally we make out just this heat spell doing them in..I've mulched and continue to weed, water the newest plants to help them establish..any other recommendations to help salvage the gardens this year. ( we've even thought about calling someone to bring a large tank of water here for the short term)

Next year I will be considering rainbarrels, but you need rain to fill them. Thanks for listening...JoAnn

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JustJoeyGirl(z5 NY)

Sorry about the rant, I must have just come in from being out there and seeing all the poor plants just calling out for water. Hope this moves this post along. Of course there is no answer other than not to plant more than our well can handle, or improve the well. Thanks..JoAnn

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 2:41PM
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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

I'm also on a well so I definitely understand. This heat combined with a dry wind for me has been nuts! Even when we get some rain, it has come in downpours that just erode my new topsoil and then disappears. I've been watering in the early morning and taking much shorter showers so that I can save some water for the plants. Heavy mulch and a nice wet layer of peat that's been soaked in a bucket prior to application (if the plants will take the acidity) seems to be keeping some of the more sensitive ones alive and my wheelbarrow has caught enough rain over the past week or so to at least keep a few of the ornamentals going.

I'm just hoping that we get some rain over the next couple of days and not hail.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 4:41PM
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linnea2(z5 NY)

this is another great reason to have a largish pond.
The plants LOVE that "fish emulsion".
Ponds collect a lot of rain water and can be tapped for
plant water in dry weather.

And then there are all the other reasons..

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 5:33PM
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So far I've never had well problems - so far. Though with all the new houses going in and tapping that aquifer, it may happen. My biggest problem is dragging the hose around and lugging the sprinkler - think I'll stop at Home Depot and get a second tower sprinkler so I won't have to keep moving the one I have. Ran it for an hour out front yesterday but noticed that in back the chocolate eupatorium is wilting so will have to get out early tomorrow and run it there.
My sister tells me that her section of Maine has had 40 inches of rain so far this year - usual amount is closer to 20. It's not true that it falls on the just and unjust alike.
Back when she lived in South Jersey during a period of drought, she had her washing machine drain rigged so she could switch the rinse water to a pipe that went outside into two rain barrels that were connected by a pipe at the top and with one tapped at the bottom to take a hose for watering the garden. Not supposed to use gray water on veggies but it was fine for the flower garden.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 3:45AM
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dian57(M-H Valley NY-5)

I have city water, thankfully watering is not an issue here. What may help you in the future, JoAnne, is polymer crystals.

I made some neck coolers for my sister's family (going to Disneyworld) and had a lot left over. I read you could mix a scant amount of the crystals with the soil in the bottom of planting holes. I did that with some transplanted hostas and notice that while the lamium around them seems to fade a little, the crystal-ammended plants keep perky.

As an experiment, you could soak some crystals, lift a plant or two and add them below the roots.

Here's the site, if you're interested:

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 5:47AM
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candyinpok(5b or 6, NY)

I went out last night and noticed that the weeds in my lawn were crispy. We've added a huge number of shrubs and plants this spring, and trees from last fall. All have to be watered regularly. Thank goodness for our new well (actually 10 years ago redrilled) because it can handle it so far. I noticed the weather forcast for today is 60% chance of thunderstorms in my area. My fingers are crossed.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 9:09AM
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I had to water the fenced-in garden yesterday. I hate lugging that hose around, but the garden is gorgeous now.

One year we had such a drought that it affected ME, as a biological being. I was drained, literally. We drove up to the top of the Catskills, in the Peekamoose valley, where the Rondout Creek originates and was flowing. The ferns and forest were damp. It was like a life altering experience. We felt refreshed and rehydrated...our mood lifted.

We found out that our well could handle a big drought, so that was lucky.

Makalu, a nice wet layer of peat, when dried out, will prevent water from reaching the soil, and is hard to rewet.

Relief is coming....I sympathize with you, Jo Ann.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 9:10AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

That eupatorium is one of those plants that wilts in the heat no matter how much water it has. I've given up worrying about it unless it's still wilty at dusk. Aside from that, everything is looking pretty good out there. I've been keeping an eye on the siberian iris that were dug up a few weeks ago, and other newly planted things, but even they are doing surprisingly well. The established stuff is growing like crazy in the heat, and doesn't seem to be noticing the lack of rain at all.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 9:17AM
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robbiezone5(z5 HudsonValley)

ugh... i just looked at the weather web site, and it looks like there hasn't been much rain up there. i'm nervous about the condition of our garden now... and we probably won't be able to get up there again until mid-september.
nervous... nervous...


    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 8:56PM
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playsinthedirt20(z6 HudsonValley)

Oh yeah, things are looking crispy all right. Unfortunately, I don't own the property, but rent from a relative. I can garden to my heart's content - as long as I plant what she likes! I've slowly been adding drought tolerant plants through the years. The biggest water guzzler is the half acre of lawn. I don't get it: I don't see the point of trying to grow something that doesn't naturally grow in an area. It wastes natural resources and is too frustrating. I believe in working with Nature, and not fighting it. A couple of years ago, during a truly frightening drought, I got a rain barrel and had the only decent looking perennials on the street. That year, I developed my rule of thumb about watering - as the period without rain lengthens, I stop watering in this order: grass, perennials, large shrubs, trees. In other words, the most important things to keep watered are the trees. They've been here the longest and have the biggest impact on the environment. Large, established shrubs come next, then smaller perennials. Grass can go dormant in a drought and come back fine when the rains return. If it were up to me, I'd zeriscape the entire yard. And notice that I said nothing about annuals. Yes, they're pretty and bloom their heads off, but it's too expensive to keep buying the same plants year after year, especially considering that we seem to be going into a sustained drought cycle in this neck of the woods. The neighbors keep watering their lawns and dumping chemicals on them to keep them neon green. But water is far too important to waste in such a way. And the chemicals have already made their way to our drinking water supply. We don't need mandatory restrictions to know that there's not been enough rain - all we need to do is look at our crispy yards. When we wake up one morning, turn on the tap, and find that there is no water to drink, I guess the neighbors can take comfort in the fact that they have a neon green lawn to look at. One good thing about the lack of rain - at least the weeds are dying!

(PS - the crystals do work - they are a great idea, even when we're not in a drought)

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 2:50AM
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JustJoeyGirl(z5 NY)

So thankful for the rain last night! We have been dealing with a dry well for the last week..what an ordeal. No one can drill for another week. So we are making due with other means for the moment. I had to dig up some of my perennials yesterday because the driller said he could do it yesterday and the only way into the area of the well was to come through my perennial border! I started digging them out..those poor dry plants, with no water to water them in pots..and the yard pretty dry to transplant them in this hundred degree heat...I figured I'd buy some bottled water and put them in the garage for relief. I had a few potted then the guy said he wouldn't actually drill for a week...just bring the equipment here and leave it for 10 days, then drill.....we changed our minds with husband told him to forget it...he felt so bad me working out there digging the gardens up to try to save some of them from the heavy equipment that was going to roll over them. We are trying to locate someone who can drill before 10 days...not commit to someone who's leaving their equipment here while they are on vacation. So I stopped digging them up. I didn't mind too much, water is a priority over the gardens...I was just trying to save what I could..let him roll over the rest. So for now, they are safe and the rain helped last night..hoping for a repeat performance.

I will definitely look into getting some of the crystals and a rain barrel next season. This has just been an awful drought here for us.

I will definitely concentrate on hosta more too. They are looking great through all of this. I was worried about them, I had just put in a few new ones not long ago...I think I must have put them in a good spot, they are doing really well, even the ones in the dry garden under the trees are doing great, they don't even look affected, while the other plants are looking really bad. The ones I put streamside look wonderful, even though the streambed is dry. The area holds moisture well, so they are happy there.

Hey, how deep are your wells out there? I we were told we were at 360 feet when we bought the house, but found out the other day it was only 275 feet. One neighbor had their well pounded, the other neighbor drilled, both had success, we aren't sure which to go with.

Thanks for the ideas and support...good luck with your gardens....relief is coming....thank you..JoAnn

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 10:32AM
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playsinthedirt20(z6 HudsonValley)

Hi Jo Ann - yes, the rains have really helped. We are on city water here, so at least we have drinking water. I still conserve as much as possible, though, because the reservoirs are looking very dry. Shorter showers, placing buckets in the shower to catch water for plants, only flushing when necessary, turning off the water when brushing teeth, etc. Another thing I read is that the most efficient way to wash dishes is by hand, turning the water off between soaping and rinsing. Supposedly, it uses the least amount of water, and of course, no electricity.

Hostas do seem to hold up really well in periods of drought. Also succulents such as sedum, practically never seem to need water.

Hang in there - cooler days are coming!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 2:13AM
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candyinpok(5b or 6, NY)

Hi, we had a low yield well when we bought the house. Only a minor drought brought no water for us. We redrilled and broke into a gusher of a system and now have enough water (cross-fingers) for the neighborhood even in droughts. If you're going to stay with a well, redrill. It's worth it. Depth depends on location. Where ever your water is, that's how deep they have to drill. Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 8:00AM
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