Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010

Yes, Gardener/Reader, I know that it's a Friday and I know that I just posted recently that I try to write something about roses on Friday.  But I was tipped off to a rather special event held today and decided to postpone the rose blog until tomorrow. You'll have to bear with me because Friday, October 15th is Blog Action Day 2010, and this year, October 15th is all about water.  Safe water, clean water, plentiful water for all.

Regular readers of this blog probably don't take me as a crusader for anything except the art and practice of gardening, but stay around a minute while I mentally don my nonexistent (in reality) Birkenstocks and tie-dyed shirt (also doesn't really exist) and join the U. N. and bloggers worldwide in an effort to raise awareness of the condition of our global fresh water supplies.

Fresh, unpolluted water is an important consideration to inhabitants of the tall grass prairie ecosystem here in the Flint Hills because we simply don't have enough of it even here, in the midst of the North American bounty. Once you get to wandering around the Flint Hills, you'll find the remains of many old, very small, limestone houses, usually near the shallow muddy streams at the bottoms of the hills.  Frankly, I look at those houses and the terrain and wonder how anyone survived here before modern plumbing and septic systems.  I, at least, hope the cows were pastured downstream from the homes.  The biggest issue with potable water for the pioneers here was that clean water is deep.  In fact, one of the most advertised tourist spots on any Kansas guide is the "world's deepest hand-dug well" at 109 feet deep and 32 feet wide in Greensburg, Kansas (What can I say?  Aside from the world's largest prairie dog and the world's largest ball of twine, we suffer for tourist attractions around here).  Contrast that with my native soils of southern Indiana where the picture at the right is of a pump andwell in my father's vegetable garden, hand-driven by my father when in his late 60's.  Heck, in our bottom ground there, I used to dig fence post holes and hit water.  Here in the Flint Hills, I could probably dig past the center of the Earth without moistening my shovel.

Average annual precipitation in the Flint Hills is around 34 inches, not bad compared to the majority of North America, but the wind and summer heat dry it off fast.  Besides, as I've said before, we get about 25 inches of that rain in April, May, and June as torrential rains with dark storm clouds.  The rest of it is spread over the rest of the year, with very little normally in the hot months of July and August.  My point is that generally, this is an arid land, with native yucca's and cacti starting to make their appearance in untilled areas only an hour west of me.

I try to do my part to conserve water here, as every good gardener should.  I'm a deep mulch fanatic, and I try very hard to select plants that will do well both in the cold wet clay of spring and the hot brick-hard clay of summer.  It certainly limits my plant selection, but as a general rule I water plants and trees only the first full year that they're in the ground.  Beyond that, it takes a pretty bad summer to get me to provide water.  This year, in the midst of a 6 week drought with 100 degree temperatures, I watered the garden beds exactly once, in late August when established shrubs shriveled to brown.  I have no permanent irrigation at all and my immediate lawn is buffalograss.  I am considering adding some drip irrigation on my strawberries and blackberries to supplement their growth and my harvest, but the rest of the vegetable garden and orchard is on its own as well.  I use artificial fertilizers as little as possible and used no insecticides this year save some Sevin on the squash.  Somewhere down the hillside from the house and garden is a pond muddied by cows, but with a thriving amphibian population, which I take as a good sign for the impact of my runoff.  

Anyway, all of this to say that I believe that gardeners can and should do what we can to minimize our impact on our local environment.  We may fight tooth and nail to hold back the ferocity of nature, but we CAN keep our gardens without resort to chemical sterilization and nuclear holocaust.  For further viewpoints, you can read all about the global effort to improve water supplies at the Blog Action Day site and visit over 4000 blogs about all aspects of the effort.  And I promise, the roses will be back tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for participating in Blog Action Day, and Happy Gardening! (I'm a tomato-grower myself!)

    Check out my B.A. Day article when you have a moment!


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