A simple trick to increase your chances of becoming a successful gardener.

Have you ever observed how green and flourishing plants, trees and grasses look after a good rain?  They are noticeably greener, healthier, more vibrant and appear to be thriving!  Your landscape and edible plants can also enjoy these benefits by effectively using rainwater in your garden.  This one simple trick – using rainwater – can greatly increase your yields and possibly limit your chances of failure. 

Let’s see how…..

Hydrologic Cycle

Rainwater is a fresh, pure source of water thanks to the natural distillation process that rainwater undergoes during the hydrologic cycle – evaporation/transpiration, condensation, and precipitation.  In short, water on the earth’s surface is heated by the sun and changes to a gas (vapor) as it rises up into the atmosphere.  When the vapor reaches the cooler temperatures of the upper atmosphere, it condenses back into a liquid.  Once the mass of condensed particles (clouds) become too large for the rising air to support, it falls back down to earth as precipitation, namely rain.  This product of the hydrologic cycle (rain) that lands on our heads, roofs and landscapes has the precise properties that our gardens and plants crave – soft and slightly acidic.

Water Wise Landscape Solutions, Hydrologic Cycle

Hydrologic Cycle Diagram, explaining the water cycle.

Naturally Soft Water

Rainwater is naturally soft as it is free of dissolved salts of such metals as calcium, iron, or magnesium which are filtered out during the evaporation process.  This is superior to both city (tap) and well water which are both considered ‘hard’.  Using hard water on garden plants can lead to a buildup of scale and other mineral deposits.  The chlorination process used in treating city water can have additional, harmful effects on your plants and soil microbes.  Plants want to keep things simple and stick to what is natural and we should, too.

Ideal PH for Plants

A second benefit of the natural distillation process is that we receive rainwater that is slightly acidic.  This is a good thing as most edible plants thrive in an environment where the pH is between 5.5-6.5.  Distilled water should register as neutral (7 on the pH scale), but rainwater mixes with carbon dioxide in the air during the precipitation phase of the hydrologic cycle and lowers the pH (becomes more acidic).  The rainwater in a cistern at my house measured 5.6 using pH measuring sticks.  This differs greatly to the pH of my city and well water which can vary but is always alkaline and usually around 8.5.  Since my local South Florida soil is alkaline (8.0), I need to help move the pH down, not up, and this valuable benefit of rainwater helps me to do it simply and naturally.

Nature and her hydrologic cycle are constantly working for us to deliver fresh, pure water to our doorstep and landscapes.  It is up to us to catch it and utilize this precious resource for our benefit.

 

Information Sources

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/atmos/hydro.html

https://www.britannica.com/science/soft-water