This may need to be another day for "rain, rain, go away" to come back. I'm sure you all got the same notice I did with my water bill - "Ahoy mates! It's the dry season." The Cape Coral "Irrigator" urges us to be his "Gator Aide." Gator Aides are his top assistants, practicing water conservation by following the water schedule set out by the Cape Coral Water Department. They announced that the dry season is Dec. 1 until May 31. To compound our problems, we hear on the news about the canal levels being at an all-time low. The watering schedule for now is printed on the notice.
It all depends on the ending number of your home address. My number is 7, so I can water, if I were to water, on Wednesday and Saturday, 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. Every house number ending is a different time and days. Fortunately, for right now we can water twice a week. If our water level gets any worse, we can get cut back to once a week. Hopefully, we never have to go to complete abstinence. No watering is allowed on Tuesday anywhere, and it would be appreciated if you only do the time necessary, which is 20 minutes per zone.
We do have an all-year watering schedule and if you are ever in doubt, call the Hotline 573-3030 to find out how to water your lawn so it stays as green as Mr. Irrigator, but still conserves water in the process.
Expressions in rhyme and verse about our weather abound, such as, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb." Many sayings are based on truths and many are just beliefs based on our ancestors' imaginations, their superstitions. "April showers bring May flowers" was true when I lived "up North," as that is the normal progression of winter to spring, but here in Florida, we have a whole different set of equations. When is it truly winter here?
Early settlers needed to be able to plant and protect their crops, their livelihood, their ability to have food on their tables. They paid keen attention to weather matters. Relying on past weather conditions to forecast events that will occur in the present, they planned their crops and paid attention to ancient times with studies of the cycles of the moon and stars. Northerners know that winter is blustery, ferocious like a lion, and April with its soft rains has the mellower, gentleness of a lamb.
In the South, especially tropical Florida, we have no such barometers. So turning to the skies, in astronomy, our northern Hemisphere has the constellation ferocious Leo arriving in March and Aries, the ram or lamb, closing in later in the month, hence coming in like a lion and being taken over by the lamb.
We hit the thermometer at 90 degrees this week, which will cool off later. Up and down we go, as the winds blow in and out from the seas. We do know that the Vernal Equinox is due around March 20, when we can start to call this time of year, Spring.
All this brings us to wind power. The uneven heating of the Earth's surface causes the wind to blow, so curbing the power of the winds gives us renewable energy for generating electricity, paying attention to this is good for our own future. Harnessing the wind for power is the new industry. Commercial wind farms are beginning to be created. I've seen rows of small windmills, large windmills and some designed like flowers with their giant petals being used as solar panels that fold and close up in storms. The air conditioners are running today, but will not be needed continually. We are in our comfortable zone right now.
The ground is so dry that growing plants is difficult, so it is a temptation to run our water source to keep up. Lawns are vanity crops but fruits and vegetables are not. It is times like this that tax our water supply. For our common good we need to be careful how we use it. March is a volatile time, weather wise, and our water department is telling us that the dry season lasts until May 31. That tells us, we cannot count on the adage, "April showers bring May flowers."
One thing I can recall about March is, it is always windy, in the North or South. This was the time I took my children and grandchildren kite flying. Finding open fields these days is getting to be the challenge. Gardeners can now start planting warm season crops for a late spring harvest. Mulching needs to be of primary importance to guard against further moisture loss, and pruning can start when new growth and buds set. Let the plantings begin.
For some of us now, abstinence comes with Lent, and I compare that with New Year's resolutions, follow only if the willpower is willing.
Spring is new beginnings, go fly a kite or whatever brings you joy. Be grateful for the trees and their abundant provisions in keeping us healthy, thank them all.
Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.