Last year, the United States suffered one of the largest droughts in its history. More than 50 percent of the nation was declared in drought conditions. In fact, nearly 1,000 counties and 28 states were in a drought last year.
With drought conditions, it’s important to know how you can protect your home garden. This will help you have fresh, healthy produce no matter the season.
Here are a few points to consider when trying to conserve water in your home garden.
Space them Out
For flowers and vegetables, use wider spacing to reduce competition for soil moisture. You can also place mulch in between and on top of the soil to prevent water from evaporating out of the soil as quickly. Since the mulch is thicker, the water will stay trapped.
Layer on the Top
Placing a layer on the top to trap in the moisture is a great way to conserve water. Many families water the garden in the early morning or late at night and spread the lawn mowing clippings over the top of the soil to trap in that water as long as possible.
A drought means less water but can also means higher heats. In order to protect their plants, many gardeners will create a shaded area for their garden to protect them from the extreme heat throughout the day. You can do this by building a netted canopy over your more tender plants which allows some light in. Many shading canopies are also built to be adjustable so that they can move to the side for setting suns on the horizon. The shading also helps water stay in the area instead of evaporating as easily.
Raised Gardening Beds
Raised beds made of concrete are a great way to retain moisture in the soil when you’re gardening. In many water-deprived areas, they use large troughs to plant all of their garden vegetables and fruits.
Be sure to cut down on how much fertilizer you use and how often you use it. High-nitrogen fertilizer is great for quick growth but also requires more water for lawns and other plants. By using organic fertilizers, they deposit less nitrogen into the soil and improve soil humus - which helps hold water for longer amounts of time.
Pruning takes a lot of effort for the plant to heal. Pruning can also cause side shoots and more growth, and thus require more water. Avoid pruning as much as you can. While your bushes and trees might look a little shabby, that’s better than having to replace a whole plant the next year because they didn’t survive the drought.
Weeds and Hoeing
I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but making sure that you weed your soil as much as possible. Weeds are competing for soil moisture and you can’t afford for your plants to miss out on any water that might be there. It’s also recommended that you avoid using a hoe on the soil. Disturbing the soil surface will result in drying out much faster.
Add organic materials like fruit scraps to the soil, they will add nutrients along with moisture. Composted materials will also add nutrients and are a great way to retain moisture. A popular practice is to use peat moss in gardens. While the peat moss lasts a lot longer in the soil, it doesn’t add as many nutrients and can acidify the soil.
So, what do you do when water is tight? Comment below to tell us what you think about gardening in a drought. Spread your knowledge and advice to others.