Dry Spell: Yes, You CAN Garden in a Drought

May 26, 2016

Despite unusual spring rainfall, Southern California maintains its drought status, with restrictions continuing. You may not live in California, but if your locale doesn't experience much rainfall in the summer (or at other warm times of year), you may have overused water in order to keep your garden alive...then felt guilty. How DO people garden in drought conditions?

The California Garden Web offers some GREAT suggestions on how to do just that! Yes, you can keep a pretty and/or edible (or both!) garden going even when water restrictions are in place or rainfall is low. 

Some are common-sense; others may light the bulb and make you say, "Why didn't I ever think of that?" Included in California Garden Web's drought gardening solutions are:

  • Plant an appropriate size garden for your household.

We agree. Like many gardeners (raising hand guiltily), you may have visions of a giant yield, rows and rows of preserves and perhaps even a booth at the local farmer's market, but when water is low, unless you're an actual farm you'll want to keep your yield expectations realistic. Limiting planting to feeding just you and your family may have to do, at least until the current crisis is over.

  • Plant shorter season crops and drought resistant varieties.

The shorter the season, the less total watering time. Drought resistant plants can be found for all climates, so do some research before deciding what to put into the ground this season.

  • Know critical watering periods, for example transplanting and fruit development.

Don't waste water sprinkling your plants at a time when they don't really need it. Save full soakings for the appropriate times and conditions for your variety/varieties. 

  • Apply a 3” to 4” layer of mulch.

Mulch is amazing! You can make your own by composting, or purchase some organic mulch from your local nursery. Mulch helps retain moisture, prevent immediate evaporation and usually includes necessary minerals. It also provides a sun "umbrella" to keep the heat and sun from drying the area out too quickly.

  • Compost adds nutrients to soil and can produce higher yields.

We agree...see above.

  • Remove weeds, which compete for water resources.

Weeds are nature's opportunists, and they WILL sap not only nutrients but water from the area. Weed regularly so the water goes to the plants you WANT to grow.

  • Install a water efficient drip irrigation system.

There are so many ways to do this...or if you're not crafty, purchase one ready-made from the Home Depot, a large-size nursery or other garden-products locale.

Need more drought-condition gardening tips? Find many more here!


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