Watering your garden while there is a drought going on can be difficult. The soil can become very dry, and that may make it difficult for water to get to where it needs to go in your garden if you aren’t watering properly. Of course one of the best options is to choose plants that are native to your area as they will grow the best, but that doesn’t always offer a nice variety of options when it comes to vegetable gardens.
If you want to grow your garden as planned while conserving water, there are a few things you can do to help your garden thrive during the drought.
Make (or Buy) Soaker Hoses
Soaker hoses are the best way to go if you would like to be sure that the water you are using is getting into the soil and to your plants’ roots rather than running off. There are many varieties that can be bought in the store as well as many ways to make one yourself. You can use an old hose by poking holes every six inches and making sure that something is on the end that will block the water flow. This design will allow the water to drip out evenly. Be sure to not make the holes too large, and when the water is turned on, make sure it’s on a low setting so you allow it to drip out rather than spray out of the holes.
Collect Rain Water
Collecting rain water is a great way to not only respect the earth and reuse the water it already gives us, but also an excellent option for gaining access to water during droughts. Keep a few garbage cans or other large clean barrels somewhere in your yard, especially at the ends of the gutters. These barrels will collect water when it does rain. If you live in an area where it’s common to have droughts in early summer, be sure to put those barrels out as soon as spring starts to begin collecting water. Of course this water will not be very clean, especially if it’s being run through gutters, so it will not work for drinking or cleaning, but it will work perfect in your garden during a drought.
Re-Purpose Wasted Kitchen Water
You may find that while making dinner or doing dishes, you let the water run for a period of time while waiting for it to get hot. Why not utilize this water that is just going down the drain? Using sink basins, you can collect this water and add it to your rain barrels outside. You can also use water that was used for boiling things as it will not hurt the plants at all. Utilize any water that you may be wasting by collecting it. You could even place bins in your shower to collect water that would otherwise go down the drain.
Mulch the Soil
To help your soil retain the water you are able to feed it, it’s important to mulch in as many areas as possible. Mulch will help the soil retain more water rather than allowing the sun to dry it out. You can use a variety of materials as mulch, including straw, newspaper, grass clippings, burlap bags and more. When done right, mulch can minimize weed growth and increase your yield too!
- If you water annuals from overhead, do so early enough in the day that the foliage dries before nightfall. A watering-hose attachment provides a gentle spray
- Drip-irrigation tubing and soaker hoses use water more efficiently than overhead sprinklers, and are very handy if flowers are planted in rows or blocks.
Important Notes for Watering
You’re not alone in the disliking cold showers or cold bathwater; plants hate cold water, too. This is especially true when they are seedlings or growing in pots where there isn’t enough soil to absorb the shock. Always water young plants with cool or tepid water, never icy cold.
Check your new transplants every day, especially if the sun is hot, the air is warm, and there is a noticeable breeze or wind. The warm air moving over the open ground will quickly absorb water, sometimes leaving the plant roots in dire straits. New transplants need soil that is evenly, constantly moist, but not soggy. When planting small peat pots directly into the soil (a practice often used with annuals that may not survive root disturbance), be sure that no part of that pot protrudes above the soil. If it does, the dry peat will act like a wick, soaking water from the soil and letting it evaporate into the air.
If you water the new plants with a watering can, turn the rose at the tip so that the holes point upward to the sky instead of down toward the earth. This minimizes soil disturbance.
Finally, remember that a little bit of water is frequently worse than no water at all. When you water, do so thoroughly, letting the moisture soak into the ground where the roots need it — don’t merely wet the surface.
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