on us and the plants. The drought was two months long ending in July with two days of rain that did little followed by little rain in August. It was only with the beginning of hurricane season that the winds brought us regular rain.
We mulch heavily so the impact of the drought was delayed but as it wore on we began to water as we realized that even the mulch would not be enough this year. Very light snow cover this past winter meant hardly any spring runoff which meant that the water table was low at the beginning of the summer. By the third week of July, we had used up our 4,000 litres of water with very careful watering of our vegetables, soft fruits, and orchard. We ended up buying 4,000 litres which guaranteed rain. The rain that we got was just for a weekend and not very much. As some of our 2 and 3 year old trees started to die, we realized that we would lose them all if we didn’t do something. We bought sod and cut it into strips and built wells around the trees. We filled these wells with wood chips and we began using well water because the pressure allowed us to get more water to the trees faster than the gravity fed water tanks would. Rather than continuously drag hoses from one area to another, we bought an additional 300 feet of hose and left hoses connected to the taps on each corner of the house. Then we set up a reminder system using Google Calendar so that we were watering a different set of trees or the raised beds every day of the week and nothing was being overlooked. Because the heat was so bad, we started getting up with first light and watering until 9 am when we had breakfast.
The deep rooted fescue part of our lawn continued to grow through the drought and its clippings were used to mulch around this year’s newly planted nut trees – six foot diameter circles that were 6 inches deep.
Day after day, all summer long all we did was water before the heat drove us inside.
And then September came and the weather changed and we started getting regular rain. We tallied up the damage and it was minimal – our tomatoes went into some kind of shock and did not grow or flower; 2 high bush cranberries died; 3 hazels died although they may still be alive below ground which will result in them sending up suckers.
I think that we were lucky to get away with as little loss as we had. The drought did teach us that every tree that we plant must have a dam around it and six inches of wood chip mulch at the time of planting. We’ll now take note of the winter snow fall and prepare for a bad summer if the spring runoff is light. We’ll renew depleted mulch levels at the beginning of the season so that water retention begins with the growing season.