Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Joys of Gardening

It has been excellent weather for the vegetable garden, thank you Ms. Weatherwoman. The peas, beans, carrots and corn are jumping so it looks like we’ll have veggies galore later this summer, and into the fall.

This is truly good fortune because a well stocked veggie pantry means I won’t have to drive down to Shoot’em Up City to turn in my guns for food vouchers. I want to  keep my guns for when Premier Pinocchio announces a guns-for-electricity-vouchers program.

At any rate, the weather gods have been generous in my patch of the world. There have been bright stretches of sunshine interrupted by brief showers of light to moderate rain.

I have watered only twice this season, more good fortune because our only water source is rain barrels. When the barrels go empty, the garden goes dry.

The barrels ran dry two or three years ago and I had to refill them by trucking water from a pond. Hauling water, then doling it out to individual veggie plants is not my idea of fun, but it did give me a new appreciation of the importance of water.

Like most Canadians my appreciation of water was not as intense as it should be. Many of us live surrounded by lakes and rivers so we believe we are water wealthy, much water wealthier than other nations.

In fact, Brazil and Russia are the world’s water wealthiest nations. Canada basically is tied for third place with Indonesia, the U.S. and China.

Surveys have shown that more than 50 per cent of Canadians consider freshwater our country’s most important natural resource. Eighty per cent of us are concerned that a water shortage will develop if we do not take steps toward conservation.

Despite this we are among the world’s leading water wasters. We rank only behind the U.S. in per capita water consumption among developed nations. Europeans use one half the water that we do.

A Canadian Water Attitudes Study some years back found that Canadians believe they use an average of only 66 litres of water a day for showering, laundry, washing dishes, in toilets and, of course, for drinking. Actual use per person is far beyond what we believe: each of us uses on average 329 litres of water a day.
Experts on water usage say that has to change because the warming of earth’s atmosphere is dramatically altering the world’s hydrological cycle.  Rainfall and snow patterns around the world, once fairly predictable, have become erratic and likely will become even more so.
The result already is being seen: more severe droughts in some places, more severe floods in others. Both have high impacts on the water we all need for life.
As the climate changes the politics of water will intensify. An example of the fighting over water that can be expected is seen in the current plan of Waukesha, Wisconsin to divert 8.4 millions of gallons of water a day from the Lake Michigan.
Waukesha, a city of 70,000, now gets its water from groundwater wells, which now are found to contain high levels of radium. A court has ordered the city to find other sources of water by 2018.
Canada and the U.S. have an agreement forbidding the diverting of Great Lakes water to any area outside the Great Lakes basin. Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb, is working a loophole to get an exception to this rule.
The city itself is outside the Great Lakes basin, but the county in which it resides is within the basin. So Waukesha believes it should be granted an exception to  take the water it needs.
We can expect to see more of these water fights as climate change continues to upset precipitation patterns.
Hopefully the rainfall patterns will remain stable for my vegetable garden. If so, the veggies will flourish and my only worry will be the animals.
Last year my scarecrow fell asleep on the job and the raccoons snuck in and feasted on the corn. They left us one small cob.
A couple of nights later the deer, obviously upset that the raccoons beat them to the corn, ate our prized sunflowers. 


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