Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cool off and Make Rain with Misters

Our snowpack is low but Lost Creek reservoir is full and Applegate is at 90% of capacity.  Nonetheless, Josephine County has been declared to be in a drought emergency, though the Rogue River, from which Grants Pass gets its water, is unaffected because our reservoir is full.  The hot, dry heat of a Southern Oregon summer will soon be upon us, and if we don’t get rain with our thunder and lightning, we will have forest fires and fish could be dying in the Applegate by fall.
So those of us who take our water from the Rogue should use it to keep our plants green and make rain.  It’s not like we could save it and send it to the people who are in the drought areas.  The only way we can share our water is by using it for irrigation, helping the water cycle to make rain by throwing it in the air, on the plants and the ground, and sending water vapor uphill and upstream on the prevailing wind to condense in the top of our water shed, or right on our heads when thunderstorm conditions are upon us.  Drip cannot do this, wash dust off your plants, nor water your plants half as well as sprinklers.
But one should use sprinklers only as much as necessary to keep one’s yard watered:  deeply and weekly.  It wouldn’t do to keep it running all day every day, though some did just that to keep the smoke at bay last summer.  But that gets expensive, breeds crane flies that eat grass roots, and makes a swamp that can be hard on plants.
Misters, however, can be run all day, every day and even all night, adding water directly to the air without greatly wetting the ground.  In our hot dry summers, plants, animals and people breathe easier with a little added coolness and humidity.  When smoke was choking us last summer, misters made a big difference in breathability, grabbing the smoke and taking it to the ground.  I could smell and feel the difference when I got home.
You can set up a mister system to air condition your yard with $10 misters that are often in stock at Diamond, the Grange, and Grovers; cheap ½” garden hoses; ½” male and female hose repairs; and hose Y’s, running them in a line around your front and back yards.  You want a hose running along with Y’s in it, and 15-20 foot hose lengths running to each mister from the Y’s.  1/2” hose is best because it has a smaller cross section than 5/8” but is the same strength of hose, so it doesn’t blow up and sometimes blow out under the pressure needed for misting.
Blueberries, which like their roots cool but their heads in full sun, do particularly well under the influence of mist.  Spider mites, which like dry and hot, do not love mist, so it’s good to use one in your greenhouse as well.