Watering is Watching

We’re hitting our first real heat in Portland, heat like summer, highs in the 80s for days straight with no rain in sight, and I am scrambling to give everything a drink. On the rooftop we have an automated watering system, drip hoses and timers and all, and thank goodness we do, but at the same time we have never abandoned hand watering.  Our long springs with abundant rain usually don’t see us having much need to water anything until June, but whenever the drier weather first comes, I’m always glad to have the watering wand close at hand for irrigation as the automated systems get re-set and fixed as needed.  What’s surprising is that once the little robots in boxes take over the watering duties, I don’t abandon the wand.  I actually set the timers such that we have to hand water at least once a week.  Why is that?  Because watering is watching, at least when you’re hand watering.  Hand watering is a time-consuming practice, but only if you view it as time you’d rather spend doing something else.  If you actually like being in your garden, then it’s time well spent when you are closely observing your plants, attending to the other creatures that may be there (for good or ill), and just soaking in the general milieu – the wind, birdsong, the calming power of nature.  I have had many inspirations idling over the raised beds while watering, some about gardening and some about the rest of life.
Speaking about the rest of life, it is always there, and so there is a limit to the amount of hours I can spend hand watering.  Plus I do like to get away from time to time, so there’s the beauty of automation.  Set up the system, program it as you like, and it will take it from there, delivering cool, refreshing water to your plants on a regular basis…until a hose gets blocked, a battery dies, a wire gets nicked and shorts, an irrigation tube gets cut by a shovel.  Get the picture?  Automation, while supremely useful, can’t be fully trusted.  Yet another reason to keep some of the watering duties for yourself.
By hand watering some of the time during the summer, you’ll be right on top of what’s going on with your plants AND you’ll be making sure to spot dry sections and irrigation trouble spots before it’s too late.  It may be bad form to look down your nose at someone, but it’s great practice to look down your watering wand at your plants.  As the weather warms up keep you hand on the spigot and your eye on your crops.  Watering is watching!