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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Jul 10

Dog Days in the July Garden

Posted on July 10, 2015 at 3:07 PM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

 Dog days of summer
 Dog days of summer
During the heat spell, I watched our critters cope with the hot temperatures. Just what could I learn from them? The horses and donkeys hung out under the shade of trees in their respective pastures, while the chickens headed for the coop that housed a fan. Our two golden retrievers made haste for "their" couch in the house—the house specifically built for climate control, staying cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

On the other hand, the vegetable garden was doing anything but kicking back! Tomato plants seemed to grow at least a foot within a week. Zucchini, squash, peppers, cukes, peas, and beans sprawled out while producing an abundance of flowers and tiny fruit. Beneficial flowering plants did their jobs, too. Swallowtail butterflies flitted about inspecting the new blooms of the magenta yarrow, while monarchs and bees dined on the lavender.

 Bee and butterfly on lavender
 Monarch and bee on lavender
A walk through the garden during the dog days of July is a good thing. It is as if the garden speaks. It is a matter of looking and listening to what is said. The warm air carries the humming of busy local bees gathering pollen while doing their magic to add to the abundance of veggies. The base tones of frogs and toads join the bees in their symphony, while croaking out their songs of "all is well." Twittering birds unite in harmony. Nature's music indicates the garden is healthy—the sounds of a happy environment.

A quiet walk in the garden also helps with assessments. It was clear the summer rains we are experiencing here in Lassen adequately watered the plants; thus unlike our friends in Marin we don't need to irrigate now. The walk also revealed that squirrels managed to outsmart the electric fence and gnawed off the limb of a blueberry plant, leaving the berries intact on the fallen stem. This discovery reminds me that the blueberries must live in the wire hoop house once it is finished. These walks reveal what worked, what still needs work, and how we might solve problems to maintain the health of the garden.

 A garden protected
 A garden protected
The real purpose for these garden walks is to stop for a minute. Stop and admire. Stop and count blessings. Without a doubt in my mind, the dog days of gardening require that we pause from the hubbub of our busy schedules, step back, and soak in the outcome of a job well done before we begin again with harvesting our crops and canning. Dog days in the garden are a time to ponder, a time to plan for the fall vegetable garden next month, and—for the brave heart—a time for successive plantings of green beans, peas, spinach, and lettuce. Not to mention weeding!

Lessons can also be learned from our furry and feathered friends. A siesta during the heat of the day allows for some fine garden work time in the evenings!


Mike Van Horn
July 10, 2015 at 9:04 PM
Questions about the water conservation regulations: -- What is "rainfall"? Today it rained, about enough to wet the bottom of the rain gauge. Does this preclude us from legally watering plants for two days? -- "Within 48 hours" Does that mean after, or before and after? If I water plants, then it rains tomorrow, have I broken the law?
Ann Vallee
July 13, 2015 at 2:35 PM
Thank you for your questions and all that you are doing to conserve. MMWD's ordinance reflects the regulations established by the State Water Resources Control Board. Under state and district regulations, irrigation is prohibited "during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall." Obviously “measurable” is open to interpretation. Our goal is for customers to be aware of conditions in their gardens and to irrigate only when needed. And, no, we don’t expect you to foretell the weather!

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