Two parts Hydrogen, one part oxygen; H20; water.
Humans and plants alike survive and thrive off of this critical element of life. But is all water created equally?
Before I became a flower farmer, I thought so. I didn't realize how wrong I was until I became responsible for the raising of all my beautiful little plant babies. That is when I realized how perfect nature was in creating rainwater.
The benefits of rainwater are myriad. It is naturally free of many of the harsh chemicals that are commonly found in tap water like chlorine, fluoride and aluminum. These chemicals can be harmful to young plants and can even cause damage to the delicate root systems of seedlings and transplants. This is usually referred to as "root burn". Rainwater is much softer than tap water, meaning that it is less likely to contain high concentrations of minerals and salts that can accumulate in soil and damage plants over time.
Additionally, rainwater tends to naturally fall at a PH (5.0-5.5) that is more naturally suited for young seedlings than tap water. Ideally, tap water should be tested and monitored regularly to ensure it remains suitable for growing plants. This can be done with a simple, store bought water testing kit at your local hardware store.
Rain water also generally falls at ideal temperatures that the fragile root systems of young seedlings can handle. This is especially important for young transplants, as it can help them to establish roots more quickly. The ideal water temp can also help to stimulate growth and encourage healthy development during those critical early days in your garden.
So how do we best utilize this vital resource in our farming and gardening practice?
Unfortunately, there can be limitations to an individual's ability and capacity to capture and store rainwater. Many states and municipalities have strict rules and regulations against the collection of rainwater due to health and safety concerns. Before building containment structures and collecting rainwater in your yard, it is recommended to check with your local state or city officials to ensure compliance with local laws.
If you are unable to harvest rainwater in your area, your best bet is keep a keen eye on the weather. Many farmers and home gardeners will set their planting schedules to coincide with a good spring rain. The immense advantage of even one thorough rain when your plant babies go in the ground will yield excellent results compared with watering with regular tap water on the week of your planting.
As a commercial flower farmer, I have personally seen these advantageous in my own practice and will continue to use this strategy in the years to come.
Remember, farming and gardening is a constant learning process and no matter your experience or skill level, working in conjunction and harmony with nature will always produce the best results!