Consumer Q’s: Rain water or hose water?

Gary Black

Gary Black

Question: What are some different ways to use zucchini?

Answer: Zucchini can be battered and fried. Instead of French fries made with Irish potatoes, use zucchini instead. The “fries” can even be baked if you want to cut down on oil. Zucchini can be sautéed. Slice some thinly and put it in a pot with a little olive oil or butter and black pepper. Cover it and turn on the heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Try zucchini in breads, muffins and cakes. Slice zucchini thinly and use it with Vidalia onions, broccoli florets and tomatoes for a vegetable pizza. Use it in vegetable lasagna and in casseroles. Use raw zucchini in salads or cube and slice it for crudités that can be served with a dip or dressing.

Q: Do I need to have a permit to keep peafowl? I want to purchase a peacock and a peahen as well.

A: You do not need a permit from the Georgia Department of Agriculture to keep peafowl, although you should check to make sure you are not violating any local ordinances or homeowner covenants. Birds coming from out of state will require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, however. Before you purchase any animal, make sure you can meet all of that animal’s needs. You should also consider your neighbor’s needs as well. Is that animal going to be too noisy? (Peacocks can really yell.) Will it go over the fence and damage a neighbor’s garden or property? (Peafowl will peck vegetables, scratch in flower beds and have been known to attack their reflection in the bumpers of cars.) Peafowl do not endear themselves with neighbors in many cases. Get all the facts before you make a decision on purchasing any animal you are unfamiliar with.

Q: Is rain more beneficial to the garden than watering with a hose?

A: Some people believe it is, although there are no scientific studies we know of to back it up. Possible reasons that it could be include: 1) Rain usually brings lower temperatures and an overcast sky, both of which help invigorate plants by slowing transpiration. 2) Getting the entire plant wet, especially wilting leaves, can give it a perked-up appearance. 3) The increased humidity before, during and after the rain can help perk up a plant and keep it looking perked up longer than it would be from just watering it with a hose. 4) You may not be putting down as much water as you think you are when you are watering by hand. A 15-minute shower is a brief period of rain, but holding a garden hose watering for 15 minutes can seem like an eternity. 5) The feeder roots of many plants, especially trees and shrubs, spread out much farther than most people imagine. It could be you are not getting the water where most of the roots can absorb it. Rainfall would reach those areas.

Gardeners have various other speculations about whether rainfall is more beneficial than irrigation or watering by hand and the reason or reasons why. Some claim that nitrogen in the rainwater is a reason. Others cite that fluoride and chlorine in city water are injurious to plants, although the belief that rainfall is better than watering by hand usually applies to both well water and tap water from municipal sources.

Rain at the proper time can certainly be beneficial to farmers and gardeners. Farmers prefer to have adequate rainfall throughout the growing season as it lowers their costs rather than having to irrigate. No farmer wants to spend money on labor and fuel to irrigate if he doesn’t have to. Gardeners do not like having to drag hosepipes around, move sprinklers or pay higher water bills either.

Gary Black is the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Visit www.agr.georgia.gov.