Taking Care of Your Garden During Drought
By local Master Gardener member Jackie Shaffer
While at the current time we have been receiving a lot of much needed moisture for our vegetable gardens, July is often very hot and dry. Also, even though we are getting more rain, the time between rainstorms is likely to become longer and even though the increase in average temperature is slight that combined with the spacing of times of rainfall can stress your plants which in turn decreases production. There are techniques you can use to conserve moisture and keep your vegetable garden healthy. Water your plants early in the morning if possible to minimize evaporation. Place mulch around your plants keeping it about an inch away from the stems. Clean straw, chopped leaves or untreated grass clippings are good choices for this and most readily available. Mulch will also keep down weeds which rob your garden of moisture. Using a soaker hose will most efficiently get the water to the roots by minimizing evaporation and also keeps moisture from getting on leaves which can promote plant disease. Place the hose close to your plants. In our sand country it is best to water at least twice a week unless we get sufficient rain. Water deeply, providing about half inch of water per time. If you place a small can under a spot in your hose and measure it, you will get a good idea of when your plants have been watered long enough to receive that amount. Poking your finger in the ground an inch, and watering whenever feels dry also works.