Gardening in times of drought

There are three essential elements for any plant cultivation: light, nutrients and moisture. There are also ways to help your garden produce a good harvest in less than ideal conditions, and heat and drought may mean you’re considering downsizing your vegetable garden, but don’t give up on your cultivation plans. By choosing drought-tolerant vegetables and developing a good regimen, you can still grow vegetables without skyrocketing water consumption.

Planting and planting time

Buy young plants instead of seeds, which will shorten your own growing time, and your local nursery or market may offer a range of drought-tolerant vegetables that already have a head start on growth – that way , you can save a month or two of watering.

If you choose a vegetable known for its rapid maturity, such as zucchini (which takes 60 days from seed to fruit), you will have a harvest within a month of planting.

If you must plant from seed, choose vegetables that go from seed to harvest in a short time, such as radishes, which can be harvested in less than 30 days.

Look for drought-resistant varieties of plants and seeds. Plant cultivars of “bush” vegetables, such as peppers – they will save space, require less water and give you higher yields. Varieties from our Mediterranean region are valued for their drought tolerance.

Plant water-saving foods, such as asparagus, chard, eggplant, kale and Roma tomatoes. Also consider planting less, that way you won’t have to water so often or overproduce and waste your crops.

Closed space

A fenced area can provide shade or shelter from the wind, and raised beds with a solid base covered with a layer of mulch could be a way to reduce water evaporation, with drainage holes on the sides a few inches above the base to prevent as much water. flows.

Try “block” planting, where you have plants or seeds in a grid pattern rather than rows, or even in a hexagonal shape, which makes watering more efficient.

A new alternative is the “Three Sisters” planting form – you plant corn, beans and squash in the same “hill”. The corn provides the structure for the beans to climb, the beans give nitrogen to the soil, and the squash will provide the ground cover to cool the soil. Another way to reach your goal!

watering time

Do not water during the heat of the day, but early in the morning. Water will seep into the soil and if plant foliage gets wet, it will dry out, helping to prevent disease.

Watering in the early evening is the second-best choice, but be prepared – you favor conditions for fungal diseases and snails!

Water efficiently – try a soaker hose, which will cut your water usage in half. Place the pipe on the ground and cover it with mulch. You apply the water directly to the soil and the mulch will help keep moisture in the soil. However, when the plants begin to flower, increase your watering to help with fruit set. Do not forget that tomatoes need constant watering during fruiting.

Control your weeds! During a dry spell, they can outcompete garden plants for moisture, nutrients, and sunlight. By removing them, you help the plant easily access essential elements in stressful weather conditions.

Using Wire Watering

Have you ever tried watering the wires? Vegetables like bean vines, pea vines, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, and squash can all be watered this way.

Along the top of your shade net or fence, run PVC pipes, capped at one end and attached to a gallon lidded bucket at the other. Each pipe is drilled with very small holes, less than 1 mm in diameter. At each hole location, tie a coarse wire and run the wire all the way to the base of the plant, driving it into the ground with a 15cm nail.

Fill the bucket every night – a single gallon of water can irrigate an entire row for 24 hours with minimal waste. The lid has a dual function of preventing evaporation and preventing mosquito breeding.

Wick watering for potted plants is useful for balcony gardeners – there are plenty of hints on the internet!

Terri S. Tomasini