another year without drip irrigation
August 4. Every spring I talk as if I’m about to set up drip irrigation, and this year was no different. But I noticed I made no move to actually do it, even when help was offered. Even though I have boxes of timers, pressure regulators, and other fittings, not to mention rolls of plastic tubing with drip emitters built in. (All from the year I did get around to it. And yes it did save time, but was it worth the aggravation of accidentally stabbing the line with a spading fork, or having to hand-water areas that needed more than the rest of the bed, or finding, late in the season, that emitters had gotten clogged just enough to stunt plants, though not enough to wilt them and alert us to the problem?) There was also a disincentive in the way we garden – rows are rare, curves are common, most beds are patchworks with plants at different stages of growth and needing varying amounts of water, and everything gets rotated from year to year so my original dripline arrangement was quickly outdated.
Every year when I don’t get the irrigation lines in place by early summer (after that it’s too late, as plants are big and already mulched with rice straw), I think I’m some technophobic lazy person. It suddenly occurs to me, right now – I water by hand because I like it. I like it way better than I like dealing with drip irrigation. I love looking at each plant as I deliver the water it needs. I love noticing how each plant has grown. I note where gophers or undesirable insects have appeared, what plants need to be tied or staked, where ripe cukes are hiding. I notice the buckeye butterfly on the cucumber plant and even pause to take a photo. I compose mental lists of things that need doing soonest. I sing to the plants and compliment them. It may take longer but it’s time well and happily spent.
My breakfast reading this week is Carol Deppe’s newest book, The Resilient Gardener, subtitled “Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times.” Deppe is such a rigorous scientist in her approach to everything that it’s a stretch for me, as an intuitive type, just to read her. Always worthwhile though, and this morning I come to a section called “Why I Hate Drip Irrigation.” Deppe is a plant breeder with a Ph.D. from Harvard, and when she hates drip irrigation she can say so in a list that goes on for several pages. Yes. I note that my intuition is working just fine; it’s the self-judgment that’s got to go.