If you are willing to believe what the forecasters are saying about the upcoming summer of 2015, you know things are sounding pretty dire. Half the country was pretty dry this winter, which does not bode well for a nice, healthy, prolific growing season. In the northwest, snowfall was minimal. That means, the growing regions to the south are going to be facing a drought. Droughts mean a lot of different things, but for the average consumer, the drought is going to hit them in their pocketbook. When food is difficult to grow because of a lack of water, the food that does manage to get harvested is going to be expensive.
Preppers and homesteaders already try and offset the constantly rising increase of food by growing their own, but they too will face the same problems as the commercial farmers. Plants need water and during a drought, water is often limited by the county or just impossible to get in general. You need to take steps now to ensure your garden has enough water to produce the food you need to support your family.
Here are a few tips to help you stretch the water a bit further.
Fortunately, there are only a handful of counties that prohibit the use of rain barrels. Do yourself a favor and capture as much rain as you can during the wet spring season. You can buy rain barrels or make your own. Those 50-gallon garbage cans with lids are perfect for storing rainwater captured from your roof with the help of a gutter. Collect as much as you can. Once a can is full, move it next to the shed or put it in the barn. When the drought hits, use your stored rainwater to water your garden.
Mulch serves many purposes in the garden. It looks pretty. It keeps weeds down. And, it helps the soil around the roots of the plants retain moisture. Mulch is like shade for the ground. Your plants leaves need the sun, not the roots. Providing a little shade will help the water remain in the ground, where the roots need it.
Soaker Hose or Drip Lines
Sprinklers may seem more natural, but they are a huge waste of water. The water rarely lands exactly where you need it and you end up watering the sidewalk, the neighbor’s yard or the weed patch. The water also has time to evaporate before the roots get a chance to absorb it. Many vegetable plants will have yellow burn spots from water sitting on the leaves and the sun baking down on it. When the vegetables begin to produce, the fruit will be more prone to blight and disease when water sits on the food. And, sprinklers tend to make a bit of a mess in the garden. Mud splashes up on the food and it it tends to create small craters. You can prevent all of this by using soaker hoses that are placed on the ground and deliver water directly to the roots. Soaker hoses will conserve water and can easily be attached to a rain barrel. The roots will be able absorb the water without the sun evaporating it and the falling water won’t make a mess in your garden.
Containers are another way to save water and space. Keeping the soil contained in one area means you will also be containing the water. The water will not seep into the ground far beneath the roots. Another advantage to container gardening is the ability to move the plants out of the direct sun on those scorching July days. In extreme temperatures, your plants are going to need more water than they typically would. Unfortunately, you may not always have the water to give and you risk losing your entire crop due to a string of hot days. You can give the plants a break by moving them into the shade to give them a bit of a break from the glare of the sun, thus conserving water.
Water in the Morning
Give your plants the best chance of absorbing all the water you are giving by watering in the early hours of the morning before the sun has a chance to become too hot. The water will not evaporate as quickly and your plants will have the water they need to get through another hot day. You can also do late evening watering as well. Avoid the temptation to turn on the sprinkler at 2 in the afternoon because your plants are wilting.
A timer will help save you water as well as keep you from over-watering your plants. It is easy to get distracted with other duties and forget you have the water on the tomatoes. Soggy roots will lead to disease. Not to mention, you just wasted a lot of water that you could have used to water the other parts of the garden. Set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes and then move the water or shut it off.
These tips will help you conserve water as well as aid in the growth of health plants free of disease. Water is like liquid gold. It is a commodity that many gardeners cherish and when it becomes scarce, things get dicey. Start preserving water today so you are not worried about how you will water your garden in August.