You can keep your garden moist in a drought

The western portion of the United States has experienced drought conditions the past few years, adding to the challenge of gardening. Unless you’re growing cactus in your garden, you’ve probably found yourself watering your garden more often – assuming the municipality in which you live allows you to do that.

And even in the eastern half of the country, the lack of rain during certain times of the year can negatively affect a garden, as can the type of soil you have. With most plants, moisture is a key factor in growth and taste. It’s important to keep your garden well watered.

But there are a few other things you can do to make sure your garden is getting the moisture it needs to produce good crops. Here are a few:

  • Mulch. The mulch you add on top of your soil protects it from drying out and can protect the roots of your plants from the air temperature. Mulch is also important for limiting the growth of weeds.
  • Weeding. Pesticides can help prevent weeds, but the cost is steep. They can also poison your plants and whoever eventually eats them. And if you have a well or natural water-collection system on your property, you don’t want harmful chemicals lurking in your water supply. Weeds steal moisture from your soil, as well as nutrients, so weed your garden regularly.
  • Water. This one is a no brainer, but it takes more than just a sprinkler or hose if you’re not getting enough rain. The deeper you can send the water, the more your plants will flourish because the roots will get what they need. Drip irrigation systems work well.
  • Shade. Take a look at your lawn after a couple weeks of heat. You’ll probably see that the sections with the most exposure to the sun are the shortest and brownest. Shade can help some plants retain moisture and grow much better than they will if they get too much sun, so use burlap shade cloths if they don’t receive natural shade.
  • Arrangement. This is one we don’t hear as much about. To keep moisture and nutrients in each area of your soil well used but not used up, plant corn (deep roots), beans (shallow and wide roots) and squash (in between roots) in the same area.

If you can’t get enough water in your garden to grow the types of plants you want to, then grow the ones that require little moisture, assuming they are established before they suffer drought conditions. They include beans, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, Swiss chard, rhubarb and asparagus.

Do you have tricks you’ve used successfully to keep your garden moist even when there is little rain? What are your biggest water-related challenges? Please share them with us.


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