What happens when you spend a great deal of time preparing and planting your garden only to find out that you can not just go out and turn on the sprinkler for an hour or so every day to keep it well watered. The lack of rain in your area has caused a drought and its effects have trickled down to you.
This exact scenario has happened to me for the past two years in a row. The lack of rain in Alabama has kept my area under mandatory water restrictions for the majority of the summer and since I grow a lot of tomatoes, this can be a crushing blow if you are not prepared to handle it before it becomes an issue.
Of course the most obvious solution is to use plants that are drought tolerant and require less water to thrive, but this is not always acceptable unacceptable especially to people who grow their own vegetable gardens. In these cases, other methods can be employed.
Regardless of the type of soil that occurs naturally in your area, you can modify it to be a better ward of any water that it receives. This may be as simple as adding a good mix of compost, sand and possibly lime. These components help your soil to allow for proper drainage but also to hold on to as much water as possible to keep it accessible for your plant’s roots when it is needed most.
Another important tip is mulch. By properly mulching your garden area, you can increase your water retentive properties by as much as sixty percent in most parts of the country. An added benefit is that it will also help to keep weeds at bay, so they will not be unsightly eyesores that will compete with your garden plants for moisture.
When to Water
It is best for most plants to be watered in the evening when the temperatures are lower and the heat of the sun will not cause water to evaporate before it is absorbed into the soil. In my area, water restrictions limited us last year to watering only after 8:00 pm which worked out well for me, as it gave me a few minutes at the end of my day to spend leaning to my gardens and gardening and unwinding from the worries that may have bogged me down.
If watering at night is not an option for you, the best solution is to water before the sun gets too high, preferably as early in the morning as is possible. There have been times when I was outside with a cup of coffee in one hand and my watering can in the other and while it may garner interesting looks from the neighbors, my plants and I both appreciated our time together.
Spending time with gardens and gardening during a drout can be a challenge, but what gardener is not up for a challenge every now and then? By making use of these tips, your garden will thrive and you will be the greenest garden on the block, when everyone else is brown.