Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tips For Gardening in the Drought

In our current drought situation, you can still enjoy your garden and conserve water by paying careful attention to good soil stewardship practices:

Lettuce with drip tape at the root zone.
ADD ORGANIC MATERIAL into your soil when preparing your garden beds each spring. Plentiful organic material, added each season will help your garden soil retain moisture

USE COMPOST. During the growing season, add an inch or two of compost every time you plant a new crop in your garden beds because in addition to providing nourishment and texture to the soil, the compost also increases water holding capacity.

MULCH HEAVILY. Mulch prevents moisture from evaporating, keeps irrigation water from running off, and enables your plants to use water more slowly and effectively.

Strawberry plants with drip tubing at
the root zone, and straw mulch on the bed
To conserve moisture, put straw mulch around
lettuce plants, completely covering the drip tape
Irrigation line with 2 gallon per hour drip emitters
at the root zone to water grape vine
NEW PLANTINGS ALWAYS NEED WATER INITIALLY. If you don’t give your new plants adequate water they won’t succeed: when seeds are germinating and plants are still at the seedling stage, a little hand watering is the most effective way to get them established. Once water wise plants reach full size, drip irrigation will keep them thriving over the long term. The trick is to use water thoughtfully and effectively, and mulch heavily.

USE WATER SLOWLY: Deliver only the amount of water the plants need to thrive, but don’t use more than necessary. DRIP IRRIGATION supplies are easy to install and economical, and using drip will reduce your water use very significantly.

A ring of drip tubing
in container vegetables
CLUSTER PLANTS. Cluster plants with similar water needs together. The more you learn about the water needs of your plants, the better. Remember, watering frequently and shallowly results in shallow roots; less frequent, deeper watering of established plants entices roots to grow downwards.

CONSERVE WATER for outside use: Put a bucket in the shower/sink to save the water while you’re waiting for it to heat up, then use it outside. Put a bucket near every hose bib, so when you start/close a hose, you can save excess water when you start or stop watering.

Cover crop mix in bed
PLANT A FALL COVER CROP. The foliage of cover crop plants help prevent erosion and water run off and the roots hold onto your garden soil’s organic matter through the cold and rainy season. When spring weather comes, weed wack or pull and chop up the cover crop plants, then turn them into the soil in your beds. The plant residue will break down quickly as the weather warms, adding moisture holding capacity and additional fertility to the garden for later spring planting.
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