How to maintain a vegetable garden during the drought? - Gardening World

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Gardening can be considered both as an art, concerned with arranging plants harmoniously in their surroundings. This blog is dedicated to the gardening lovers to facilitate them in growing healthy and happy plants.

Friday, March 12, 2021

How to maintain a vegetable garden during the drought?

 

Have you ever struggled to maintain a great garden during the drought? For enthusiast gardeners, it is always frustrating to install a garden and see it struggling during drought or dry years. Growing vegetables in drought conditions is always a challenging job. Drought is a serious limiting factor to maintain a healthy garden. But don't worry, you can still manage to grow vegetables in dry conditions by following a few simple water conservation practices.

Growing vegetables in drought

Here I will share with you a few useful tips for maintaining a healthy vegetable garden during drought conditions. If you will follow these simple practices while setting up your vegetable garden, you will see that your garden will thrive much better under dry conditions.


Start with the right soil

To maintain a successful vegetable garden, start with the right type of soil. It is recommended to add plenty of rich organic compost to the garden soil to retain moisture and promote deep root development. Organic compost will not only conserve moisture it will also supply plenty of nutrients to the plants. Biochar can be used as a soil amendment because it not only adds to soil fertility but also helps to conserve water.

Mulch your garden

Mulching helps to reduce the water needs by 50%. A thick 3 to 4 inches mulch layer is recommended. It will also check the growth of weeds that compete with vegetables to procure water and nutrients. Mulching keeps the soil temperature low during hot weather, helps to reduce the rate of evaporation, prevents erosion, and adds nutrients to the soil. Several types of mulches can be used such as grasses, rice hulls, clippings, shredded bark, sawdust, and pine needles.

Select a smart planting layout

The selection of a good planting layout is essential to make efficient use of water. Design your vegetable garden in such a way that vegetables with the same water needs are grouped. There are two planting designs that are efficient to block the heat and increase the water use efficiency.

1. Companion Planting Layout

In the companion planting layout, the vegetables are grouped for mutual benefit. The famous native American’s three-sister approach of growing beans, corn, and squash together is a perfect example of companion planting. In this approach, the tall cornstalk supports the climbing beans, where the beans fortify the soil by adding nitrogen, and the squash spreads on the soil and acts as a mulch to keep the soil temperature low.

2. Hexagonal Planting Layout

Vegetables can be planted in a hexagonal layout instead of planting in straight rows. The hexagonal layout groups the vegetables close together. There are many advantages of hexagonal planting layout. It creates shade, keeps the soil temperature low, and reduces the loss of water from the soil.

Pick the right vegetables          

The key to establishing a bountiful vegetable garden is the selection of the right vegetables. Always pick those vegetables that can give abundant production. Grow a limited number of plants to conserve moisture and space. Avoid growing water hogs like cauliflower and broccoli because they deplete the water from the soil rapidly.

Pick those vegetables that can grow well in hot and dry conditions. Vegetables that are bred for container gardening produce an abundant crop and can also withstand drought conditions very well.

Here is a list of drought-smart vegetables.

1. Okra

2. Peppers

3. Sage

4. Thyme

5. Armenian cucumber

6. Parsnips

7. Roma tomatoes

8. Broccoli

9. Carrots

10. Mustard greens

11. Asparagus

12. Rhubarb

13. Beetroot

14. Egg plants

Adjust the time of planting

Early planting is recommended for summer vegetables to reduce exposure to extremely hot summer weather. It will make the best use of seasonal rainfall to meet the water requirements of the plant and it will also reduce the use of supplemental water for irrigation.

Early planting of vegetables will give them enough time to establish in the soil before the temperature becomes very hot in the summer. When the vegetables are established in the soil they need less water to thrive during the hot days of summer.

Water your vegetables efficiently

The drip irrigation system is more efficient for watering a vegetable garden than an overhead sprinkler irrigation system. A drip irrigation system can cut short the use of water by 1 half. The vegetables with similar water requirements should be planted in the same drip irrigation line to make the best use of water.

Another important thing to consider is the right time for watering the vegetables. It is better to irrigate the plants early in the morning or late in the evening because at that time the temperature is usually low that reduces the risk of water loss through evaporation.

Fertilize your garden

Fertilization is important to provide supplementary nutrients that promote the healthy growth of plants. But remember that the fertilized plants need more water. So, avoid an overdose of the fertilizers. Always apply a balanced and recommended dose of fertilizers.

Weed your garden regularly

Weeds are unwanted plants that are notorious for competing with desirable plants for water, space, and nutrients. Weeds should be removed from the garden before they start spreading as they can take over the garden quickly. Weeds can be removed manually simply by pulling off with hands.

Install a rain barrel

If you live in an area that experiences plenty of rainfall it is recommended to install a rain barrel in your garden to store the water. You can use the stored water for irrigating the plants in the future.  

Plan your garden in a sheltered area

If you install your vegetable garden at a sheltered location the winds cannot dry out the soil rapidly. Always select a location that is next to a building, fence, or tall-growing plants. It will provide shelter to the vegetables and minimize the loss of water through evaporation.

Conclusion

Planting your own vegetable garden is a blessing because it gives you plenty of vegetables that can be consumed fresh. It might seem difficult to grow a vegetable garden under drought conditions, but it is still practical. You can follow the above-mentioned practices to make the best use of water and to maintain a healthy vegetable garden under drought conditions. Make sure you choose the right amount and type of vegetables that are enough to meet the needs of your family. Enjoy growing fresh vegetables at your home and also share them with your family and friends.

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