Mandeville Weekly News

TIPS FOR VEGETABLE GARDENING DURING A DROUGHT

Posted by SR (riley) on Sep 15 2016 at 5:48 PM
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It is possible to grow a vegetable garden when water resources are scarce, you will have to water responsibly, plant carefully and select fruit and vegetable varieties that are drought tolerant.  These sustainable gardening practices require less water and help ensure your family has access to a variety of nutrient rich foods.

Simple drought tips to reduce water use in your backyard garden
 *Planting time:  Planting earlier in the spring season takes advantage of the warm weather and reduces exposure to high mid-  summer temperatures. Planting later in the fall minimizes the use of supplemental water and takes advantage of seasonal  rains to establish plants. For example, tomatoes and other nightshade crops such as peppers and eggplants, should not be  planted until soil temperatures reach 55 degrees.  With a warm spring this could be as early as mid-April.

Mulch, mulch, mulch!:  A 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch can reduce watering needs by as much as 50 percent.  Mulch reduces water evaporation and keeps soil temperatures down during hot summer months.  Grass clippings, dried leaves, pine needles, straw and shredded bark are all examples of natural mulches which can be used to cover the soil.

Enclosed spaces:  Gardens planted in enclosed spaces, for example a raised garden bed, retain water better than gardens planted in open soil.  Plant seeds and transplants in a hexagonal “off-set” pattern rather than in straight rows.  A hexagonal arrangement groups plants closer together, which provides shade from leaves, keeping soil cool and water from evaporating.
 Companion planting:  Companion planting is the practice of grouping crops together for mutual benefit. Planting corn, beans and squash together are the perfect example of companion planting.  Tall cornstalks provide a structural support for the climbing beans, the beans return nitrogen back into the soil and the squash spreads across the soil acting as a mulch and keeping the soil cool. 

Watering times:  The best time to water your garden is in the late evening and early morning hours, typically between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.  The cooler morning temperature and limited wind reduced water evaporation rates.Water efficiently:  Overhead watering with a sprinkler system is not as efficient as drip irrigation.  Compared to overhead sprinklers - drip systems can reduce water usage by up to half.  Install a drip irrigation system, grouping plants with similar water needs together on one drip irrigation line. 

Garden size:  Determine the amount of fruits and vegetables needed to feed your family, does your family have two, four, or eight members?  If you overproduced and wasted crops last year - decrease the amount of plants this year.  Set up a garden exchange in your neighborhood so everyone grows less but still has a great variety.

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