Tiny farming: rain gauge

Rain watch begins

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The season’s weekly rain watch begins. Weeks start on Monday. The big 25 on the rain gauge is the magic 25mm/1″ mark, the rule-of-thumb ideal for a week—an inch of slow and steady rain over a few hours, and of course all the rest, sunshine, that’s just…beautiful. A 1/2″ is an OK minimum for a bit. More than an inch a week ongoing for a while can be troublesome, depending on the crop and stage its—disease, small seed washed out, bigger seed rotting, whatnot, it is all possible :)—and it does occasionally happen. So far this week, 18mm here and 20mm total, so, doing fine!

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Planting the rain gauge

Planting the rain gauge

The field is way dry enough to till, so it’s time to get on the rain watch (yeah, and like as not there will be some snow in there)! Picked a new spot, just for variety, and set out the rain gauge once again. Hopefully it won’t fill up, then freeze and explode in some freakish lotsa-rain-then-cold-snap-all-in-one-night event. The 2×2 that it’s mounted on is starting to split from being pounded, so rather than change it at the moment, I only went down about a foot till it hit real resistance, and then shored it up with some rocks that were conveniently collected right there. Good for now, and probably all season! No effort wasted for real is my motto for the year. :)

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The rain watch begins (once again)

Jumbo rain gauge (125 mm)

Another rite of spring on this tiny farm: setting out the (jumbo) rain gauge. I did it today. This model, with its big numbers and fluorescent red float, can be “read at 50 feet”! Or something like that. It’s…jumbo. I stake it in a convenient spot that I pass by several times a day, so I’m never straining… And it’s always somewhere in mind: Scientific Measurement meets wow-I-wonder-if-it’s-ever-gonna-rain-again (except for the occasional year of when-is-it-gonna-stop?!!—but the rainbows were nice).

No sooner does the snow go and the ground dry out enough to begin working, than it’s time to wait for rain. This gauge is calibrated in 5 millimeter increments (about 25 mm to the inch, I think in inches when it comes to rain…). It’s emptied daily as necessary, so it never gets nearly this high. Rainfall is recorded on the field calendar to keep track for irrigation (an inch a week total, rain+watering, is the rough target).

Don’t think I’ve seen it go much above 50 mm (2″) in a day, and that only a couple of times in six years. In the market garden, too much rain is at best not helpful, but too little rain is always plain…bad! Here’s to having rain every seven days or so this season, about an inch at a time, gently laid down over one partially cloudy day, followed by a few days of sun. I’m looking forward to that! :)

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First rain (just a little)

First rain

The first official rain of the gardening season happened overnight, an unimpressive 3mm or so. I suppose I shouldn’t sneer at ANY rain… Still, it’s hardly enough to do anything but help along the pigweed. On the positive side, it’s a start!

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It’s all about the rain…

All about the rain...

The jumbo rain gauge is something to keep an eye on. Once in a while, that little red disc floats upwards, and then, you’re looking for the magic 25 (millimeters, that is, a nice inch of rain).

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