It has been very dry - the understatement of the year - 80% less rain in May than normal, little in June, almost none in July - still we consider ourselves lucky that we live in an area that does see it's share of thunderstorms which enable us to water most of our gardens, most of the time, using rain barrels. When we built our home we had the foresight to get our septic installers to install pipes from each of the downspouts around the house and pipe the water back into the garden areas - we have three stations quite a distance from the house with multiple rain barrels connected and then two up near the house, front and back for the gardens there - in total we have 11 barrels. We should probably have 15.
Most mornings finds us outside early slogging to water the gardens - we water by dipping in watering cans into the barrels, pulling them out, then walking to the nearby garden and repeat AGAIN and AGAIN. It is an awesome arm and shoulder workout but can be more than exhausting when the temp hits into the 30's before 9. Every year I ask Jerry to put in taps or hoses so we would have less work but recently I have been watering a friends garden while they are away and the tap from a rain barrel takes FOREVER to fill a watering can! So we continue the old fashioned, fast way.
We have run out of water in the barrels a number of times this year and have had to resort to watering with the hose - after the hard labor of the watering cans it is kinda nice to just stand there holding the hose, no upper arm workout, just time spent gazing around but the well water is cold, not good for the plants and it feels like 'wasting' to us when we use the hose. We try to get every last drop from the rain barrels.
When the forecast suggests an 80% chance of rain on the way (like they are today) we take a look at our rain barrels and if there is still water in them we do the big rain barrel dump. We would rather that water go into our gardens then overflow once the storm hits and just run into the vegetation around the rain barrels. We did not have the foresight to put the rain barrel stations directly INTO the garden areas mostly because we had no idea where the gardens would be. That would have made the most sense and we may have to consider changing things up if the summer droughts become standard procedure and I have a horrible feeling that they will.
Anyhow, the forecast is calling for rain and so today was a rain barrel dump day - We have watered and watered to empty out all 11 barrels into our veggie gardens. Our thinking is that by watering just before the storm there is more chance of the ground being moist and allowing for greater penetration of the rain - these violent, quick storms drop a lot of rain but little seems to be absorbed, instead running off the gardens and taking soil with them. While there is a bit of a risk that we will not have water for days ahead if the rain does not materialize, the "extra" water on the garden is not a bad thing at this point and we can say they have all had a good watering and we may actually have a break from watering if the rain arrives.
The good news is the clouds are rolling in...