Perhaps you’ve noticed that the weather is a tad hot and dry for much of the United States this summer. Lack of rain and record high temperatures have decimated crops, and backyard and container gardens may be feeling the stress, too. But gardening in a drought is possible. There are a few ways to keep precious produce from completely frying before the season concludes.
1. Water in the a.m.: There’s not as much direct sun in the morning, so less water will evaporate.
2. Give the following plants the highest priority: Some communities face water restrictions during a drought. If you live in such a community, give these plants water first:
- Newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials
- Newly seeded lawns or repaired lawn areas (keep in mind some grass varieties don’t need as much water. Check out what’s native in your area.)
- Plants on sandy soils or windy and exposed sites
- Vegetables when flowering
3. Invest in a soaker hose: Soaker hoses drip out water – a much better choice than those ridiculous sprinklers that spray water everywhere. The hoses provide slow, deep soaking for garden soil.
4. Mulch!: Place 3 to 6 inches of mulch around soaker hoses, amongst plants and in pots to keep water runoff low.
5. Move pots around: Move potted veggies to shaded areas.
6. String up shade netting: Cover plants that are in direct sunlight with garden fabric. The fabric will shade greens from the sun’s dangerous rays. Some of the shade netting sold at Gardner’s Supply Company is made of UV-stabilized polyethylene. The netting can cut sun by 50 percent and allow cool air to circulate. Netting and garden fabric also can protect plants from wind, insects and plant diseases.
7. Rain barrel: Yes, we know – drought = no rain. It’s still not a terrible idea to invest in a rain barrel. When it does rain, harvest water runoff and use it during another dry bought.
8. If it’s too late: You tried to save your veggies, but don’t fret. You still have a chance to reap a bountiful harvest this fall. Get plants going and transferred outside in the next few weeks, heed the former mentioned tips and enjoy fresh produce in mid-September through early November (if not longer!).