The Earth’s surface is 75% water, similar to our bodies. Some of our organs, like our lungs, are up to 90% water. Without water, we can’t even breathe. Without water, we can’t live.
Our plants are much the same: water is vital. It’s important that we make sure that there is water around for years and years to come. Water retention is about holding water in our landscape systems so that future generations can benefit from those systems and be able to grow food.
The oceans are 97% of the earth’s water. The remaining 3% is fresh water. That means that there’s a very small fraction of water that’s available for us to use to water our vegetable gardens. Of that 3% fresh water, much of it is in a frozen state, in glaciers and ice caps, and some of it is in the groundwater.
There is this little teeny bit, this 1%, that’s accessible surface fresh water. A small part of that is what is available as a means to naturally irrigate our crops. Since a very small percentage of water is actually available to us, we want to conserve as much as possible and be very aware of our water usage.
Now, let’s link water retention and its importance to global warming and climate change. With global warming, we’ve been seeing high temperatures all across the globe in the last couple of years. What’s happening is that the earth is sweating as a response. Basically, when water is in its ice state or in its liquid state, it starts to melt and then it starts to evaporate into the air. That’s what the earth is doing, It’s trying to cool itself off. That’s what we do when we try to cool ourselves off; we sweat. As a response to all of the sweating, more and more water is in the vapor state.
And what does that lead to? It leads to larger storm events like hurricanes. There’s much more vapor in the air creating cloud formations; different currents of vapor create different storm conditions, like tornadoes, etc.
What does this mean for us as vegetable growers? In the future, there will be some changes when we’re gardening. It might not happen all at once, but it’s important for us to understand. Many crops are going to benefit from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations because that’s how they photosynthesize, They will benefit from low levels of warming in areas where it’s cooler. But where temperatures are already high, more warming is going to negatively impact growth and yields. We know that plants stop growing and stop yielding when they start to get above 86 °F (30 °C) hat’s one way in which our gardening is going to shift, these extreme weather events will likely reduce crop yields.
Another negative impact is that weeds, diseases, insects and pests love warmth. These are all increasing with warmer weather. The biggest thing you might notice, and maybe you’ve already noticed where you are located, is that your growing zone may change and your soil may change as a result of changing weather.
These are things to have our eye on. They aren’t going to change overnight, but being able to conserve water and retain as much moisture as we can in our soil will reduce the amount of climate change that is happening. This is our contribution.