Let it Rain!
By Paul James
I love rain. The sound of it. The smell of it. The way it cools the air on an otherwise hot summer day. The memories it evokes of playing in it as a kid. And the mesmerizing effect it has on me as I sit on my back porch watching it fall. But I especially love the way it rejuvenates lawns and gardens in a way that city water simply cannot. And there are reasons why that’s true.
Unlike municipal water, rainwater is free of salts, treatment chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride (both of which can be toxic to plants), sodium (which is used to soften water and is also toxic to plants), and pharmaceuticals of all kinds. Rain is free of all such chemicals and is, in essence, pure hydration.
Rainwater is acidic, with a pH of between 5.5 and 6.5, which is also the ideal pH range for the vast majority of plants. City water is treated to be alkaline to protect pipes from corrosion, and can have a pH close to 8.0 or even higher, which can prevent plants from absorbing essential nutrients.
Rain contains nitrogen in the form of nitrates, which is readily and rapidly absorbed by plant roots. In other words, rain is basically free fertilizer.
Unlike watering by hand or with an irrigation system, where it’s practically impossible to cover every square inch of ground, rain falls uniformly, covering every nook and cranny in the landscape. And in the process, it washes dust, mineral deposits, and pollutants off of plant leaves.
After the driest June in Tulsa’s history, the rain we’ve had this week has been especially welcome, and I’ve certainly enjoyed sitting on the porch listening to it and smelling it. And tomorrow, because it looks as though it’s going to rain even more, I intend to go out and play in it.
Happy gardening, ya’ll.
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