Friday, June 22, 2012

water and energy

This spring, our field was planted with hundreds of trees, aligned with the rain capture swales that were put in last fall. Long term, the rain and snow melt will collect in the swales, making the soil just a bit wetter, making them a good place for plants and our especially trees to thrive, and get through dry spells. But this is only once their roots are spread into the wet zone. So till then, the new trees are at risk of dying in dry weather. As with farmers everywhere, we are at the mercy of mother nature's statistical averages.

Until we move permanently to the farm, our garden is at risk also. We drive up and weed, water when we can, but sometimes it's weeks between visits. Not a huge loss at this time if the tomatoes die, just the cost of seed and our hours of labor. The garden is an annual experiment, it is our learning curve, getting us ready for when the food we grow will be a major part of our sustenance. But once we live there, what will we do in dry spells? This is where energy and water converge. To get water where it's needed for our crops, it takes energy. We can use the well, and energy from the electric grid, or we can capture rain water and carry it to the plants, using muscle power. Or we can hope the rains fall when needed.

We will figure out clever use of gravity, natural systems, be frugal with our use of fossil fuel energy,  but in the end, it will require some use of energy to beat the statistical odds and assure our crops make it through summer.