Tips for Dealing with Garden Drought Conditions

When you plant a garden you always want to have a beautiful garden area and successful plants. No matter how well you plan you garden unexpected problem like “Mother Nature” can create havoc. Squash Blossoms, Gainesville, Florida
Creative Commons License photo credit: adobemac

This year I am hearing mixed reviews of gardening problems that relate to droughts or too much rain and cold. Both problems can slow down plants growth and the success of you plants. And of course I seem to be having a mix of both problems this year.

So how do you prepare for weather related garden problems? The answer, be prepared!

Drought Conditions

The best way to prepare for drought conditions is to set your garden up to deal with the lack of water. Here are a few suggestions that will help you.

Rich soil with loam and compost will hold water better than poor soil. So add compost and fertilizer to your garden at the beginning of the year.

Mulch your garden plot. After I have planted my garden I water the area well and immediately cover the ground with 2 to 4 inches of mulch. My mulch is a mix of compost, leaves, grass clipping and straw that has sat for a few weeks to age.

If you don’t have these materials on hand newspaper will also work. But you should be able to round up grass clipping from your yard or your neighbors.

Weeds require water, so remove all weeds as soon as they appear.

Use native plants in your flower gardens and around the yard. Native plants are drought tolerant.

Mow less and do not cute the grass not as short. Also if you live in an area that suffers from drought a lot you may want to consider removing the grass and going for a wooded look or add hardscape and rock and retire that lawn mower.

As a rule, lawns need about 1 inch of water a week. Test how much you’re watering by collecting your sprinkler water in a can. And if conditions are very bad in your area you may have to let the grass go brown and use that water for you garden vegetables.

Add a rain barrel to your yard. It’s amazing how much rain you can capture and reuse for plants and the garden area.

You can water by using an inverted plastic bottle that you have placed in the ground by a plant. Cut out the bottom of the bottle, take off the cap and place in the garden by water hungry plants. This bottle will act like a funnel and take the water directly to the plants roots. I use this technique with tomato plants, melons and my gourd crops. The funnel is put in place at the same time I plant the plants.

If your garden is small and you are using the “intensive garden method” water each plant with a dipper. Create a small inverted saucer near the plant to keep the water near the plants and hand water each plant. You will have no water run over suing this method and a small garden can easily be watered in 20 minutes.

If you have a sprinkler system, make sure its in good condition. Repair any broken or missing spray heads or emitters. You can also install a drip or low-volume irrigation system.

You may want to check out this Home and Garden article. It’s all about different irrigation systems and packed with great information: How to Build a drip Watering System.

I would also check plants for moisture before watering. Curling leaves, a grayish color and permanent wilting indicate under-watering. Leaves that turn yellow and drop off indicates you could be over-watering.

One other trick I have used in a drought is to cover my plants and give them shade during the hottest hours of the day, noon to 2 p.m. I only do this if the drought is very bad and the plants look like they are suffering.

With a little care you can keep you plants healthy when there is a drought. And hopefully the problem will end and your garden will be able to flourish without extra steps.

An article on gardening in cold and damp weather will follow in a few days.

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