Tag Archives: water

Turn over a new leaf – if you still have one!

sun scald hit fruit that had already colored up

August 22, 2021

Our June heat wave hit just after the summer solstice, precisely when the days are the longest of the year. Double whammy! Record high temperatures in June beat our plants to the max. Ouch! We all witnessed the most obvious punishment, sun scald.

What’s a plant to do? The stomata pores of plant leaves open to welcome carbon dioxide, the start of photosynthesis. At the same time, when those pores are open, water vapor exits the plant (leaf transpiration). When it’s hot, dry and breezy, that loss of water can be deadly for the plant.

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Sat. Oct. 9 – Cider Fest
Please email us to volunteer

During the three-day period June 26-28, 2021, daytime high temperature averaged 102.5F (normal is 71), daytime low humidity was 26% (normal is 50), and average wind speed was 5.6 mph (normal is 3.3).

The plants strategized by opening those stomatal pores during the cooler mornings, and then button up in the afternoon!

mosquito netting shade cloth

What’s a gardener to do? I am sure you watered like mad. I chose to drape my veggies with shade cloth, to reduce temperature and, to some extent, reduce wind. If plants could walk, I think they would hightail it to shade during those June afternoons.

Well, here we are in August. Due to zero precipitation and additional periods of high temperatures, the soil around all our garden beds and tree guilds is dry. I looked at 2019 and 2020 August photos of the orchard; some green grass is evident. Today I noted, brown, brown, brown, except for plants with long tap roots. In fact, you can slide on the grass!

This lingering hot dry situation this summer brings us back to leaf transpiration and plant water loss. Water has to move up from the soil, to the root hairs, and up the xylem (tiny vertical pipe) to get to the leaf. Leaf transpiration is the main force that pulls the water up this path.

Water loss, through transpiration, has to be balanced by water pulled from the soil. But the soil is so dry! Twist a soil sampler tool into the ground and see for yourself.

So, what’s a gardener to do now? Remember 2015 when we had a drought? Many City trees died, but not until 2016. Prepare for next year!

beer mash, GroCo and chips for lunch…er…for mulch

Now is the time to take good care of your perennial plants, especially those that are still forming fruit. Ideas are extra watering, providing shade, and heavy mulching. You might also avoid heavy pruning.

Come Take a tour of the orchard to see all the different water conservation techniques we use.



Water Plant and Soil Relation under Stress Situations
Filipović , Adrijana
September 16th 2020
DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.93528

Transport of Water and Solutes in Plants
Botany Professor blog, Water Potential Explained, 05/07/2015

From mountain forests to city parks, trees are stressed and dying
Mapes , Lynda V. August 6, 2016 Seattle Times

Average weather by city
Compare weather on two different dates, by area

State Of The Onion Address

July 18, 2015Egyptian walking onion WP_20150713_006

On June 15, after four years of lugging water, we turned on a spigot. Wow! The sound of water rushing into a bucket; it actually took some getting used to! What a wonderful resource, especially with this record hot and dry summer. Our cisterns were installed just after the big February storms so we must rely mostly on City water this summer. The spigot WP_20150713_004cost of both the cistern and City water installations were paid for by a City of Seattle Neighborhood Matching Grant.

We had to start watering early this year, May 25th, and it takes about three hours per week to water all of the plants. Thanks to those who help with watering: Jennifer, Justin, Nancy, Joan and 37 youngsters from the Kids Co summer care program at McDonald elementary.

Access to water allows us to test out a few vegetables this summer.nan pepper WP_20150704_001 I picked our first Anaheim pepper July 6 and it was just a little start when it was planted May 25th!

In the next several months, we will construct garden beds and a path. Volunteers are picking up pieces of concrete from construction sites and piling them up to frame garden beds and make an herb spiral. In August, a professional will take up grass to make way for the path. We will recycle that good soil onto the garden beds.

flower close up WP_20150622_002Can you identify this flower? (See photo of flower & leaf.) There is a vote 150704 hibiscus leaf WP_20150704_002for hibiscus and for white swan. Nature brings in some challenging plants to the orchard but this newcomer is lovely.

We need a sign maker. You just need to design a template, have it reviewed, and then order the signs. We will need to post signs relating to safety during path construction so we need a design by August 8. Can you help?

We need help recruiting volunteers for the August 22 & 23 gravel work party. Please Please email us if you can find a volunteer or two.

Tues, Aug 4, 6-9, Night Out
Bring a dish and utensils.
Sat, Aug 22, 10-2, Path Building
Sun, Aug 23, 10-2, Path Building
Sun, Aug 23, 11-12, Qi Gong
No experience necessary

Also, help report illegal dumping at the orchard. The City of Seattle has a new mobile app for reporting illegal dumping, abandoned vehicles, potholes, and streetlights that need repair.

You can also use their online service request form. (http://www.seattle.gov/customerservice/request.htm)

Or, call this number: Illegal dumping -206-684-7587

Thank you for all that you do for gardening and community.


Cisterns Are Doin’ It For Themselves

April 18, 2015

Our two new Premier 1,535 gallon cisterns are installed and ready for a rain dance. The 200 150418 cistern connection to gutter  0957square foot shed roof will channel enough water into those tanks to sustain three times the vegetation that we currently water.

Once we chose the cistern size, the design of the shed rebuild followed. The entire shed rebuild was based on the bottom of the gutter on the low side of the roof being 9′ 6″ from the ground. That requirement, and the choice of a 1.5′ rise per 12′ roof run, drove all other dimensions.

Seattle averages 36 inches of rain, 75% of which falls between the six-month period October 150418 good of both & shed 0960through March. Our roof is about 200 square feet. Since an inch of rain will produce .6234 gallons of water over a one square foot area, our cisterns can catch 4,000 gallons during a normal year.

Last summer, we brought in 1,200 gallons of water from outside to water the plants, mostly fruit and nut trees, berries, and kiwi vines. However, the community-adopted orchard plan includes water intensive vegetable gardens. We needed more water.

How much water will a vegetable garden plot need? One website – http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-gardening/backyard-gardening/watering-timers.aspx – suggests that a 10 ‘ x 10’ vegetable plot needs 100 gallons per week for the 12 dry weeks of summer – a total of 1,200 gallons. A new fruit tree, on the other hand, would need five gallons per week during our dry summer, or just 60 gallons.

Sat, May 2, 2-4 Work Party
Sun, May 17, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Jun 6, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Jun 13, 10-11:30am Invasive Plant Class

The first phase of cistern installation involved building a solid level pad. Our pad is flush with the 150121 pad with grave sm l WP_20150121_003ground and has a 4″x4″ cedar frame filled with an inch of sand and three inches of 5/8 minus gravel. Jennifer K put together a nice leveling mechanism and many volunteers dug out the earth in just a few hours.

After the shed was built and the pad in place, we waited for Patrick from Earth Systems Northwest to deliver and install the sistered cisterns. Patrick added the plumbing, spigots and the overflow pipe in less than a day.

Filling those cisterns will be sufficient to water our existing plants, allow us to add a few new fruit trees and water a couple of garden plots.

A couple of garden plots? We need to offer more than that to help meet the increasing demand for gardening space. And we will! City water service is stubbed in. With the cisterns to meet much of our needs and City water as a back up, the orchard will be lush in a few years.