“Have you also wondered how to keep your garden alive when summer brings drought? You are not alone. When the ground dries deeply as it has done this year, it is not easy to make the garden work. At least not without some well-established tricks.”
Early summer drought
Early summer drought is nothing new, it has “always” existed, but in recent years, early summers have been drier than I remember, and this year it’s really bad.
The ground is dry deeper down, when I measured a few weeks ago how deep the soil in my flower beds was completely dried out, I landed at about 30 cm – much more than usual.
This type of drought makes it difficult for many plants to send their roots down deep enough to find sufficient water to do more than just survie. Small seedlings have a really hard time, and I hear many complaints that “nothing is growing.” It is entirely natural, but frustrating to see.
Water is necessary for plants to absorb nutrients in the soil and grow strong. When water is not available, the nutrients are “locked” for the plants’ roots, so they cannot access them. Our irrigation from above can never replace soil moisture completely, so some of the nutrients will be difficult to reach as long as the dry period lasts, even if the plants receive sufficient amounts of water to survive.
What can you do to keep your garden alive?
Of course, you need to water your garden, but how? If the drought continues for a long time, there will be a watering ban sooner or later (unless you are lucky enough to have your own well or a stream in your garden). There are also other things you can do to reduce the effects of the drought.
It pays off to think smart from the beginning, and here are some tips and ideas:
Plant things that can withstand a little drought without giving up and dying. For example, it can be challenging to grow lettuce when it’s dry, and if it does grow, you should expect the taste to be poorer when the water doesn’t quite suffice.
Choose plants according to your soil – if you have sandy soil, which dries out quickly, don’t plant water-dependent plants. Work with your garden, not against it.
Take advantage of shady areas where water doesn’t evaporate as quickly as possible for as many of your plantings as possible.
Cover drought-sensitive plants with netting or a fiber cloth at least during the hottest part of the day if you have to grow in full sun.
Cover the soil!
Add grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, bark or other organic material between the plants, which helps to retain moisture in the soil. This also ensures that the water is distributed better and more easily benefits the plants.
Grass clippings, leaves, and other such things also provide nutrients and over time add organic matter to the soil. Bark is not as good for that purpose, as it takes a long time to break down. It’s better to choose chips, but choose chips that have been left for at least a year if you can.
You can also cover the soil where you have just sown, just make sure to keep the newly sown rows free so that the plants have the energy to sprout.
Another trick may be to place a board over the newly sown (and newly watered) row for a few days until the seedlings begin to grow.
The board works in the same way as other coverage and holds moisture in the soil. Then there is less risk that the new seeds will dry out before they have a chance to grow properly.
Just remember to remove the board as soon as you see that the seeds start to sprout under it – sunlight is needed for the seeds to grow.
Water first where it is really needed, for example where you have just planted seeds or where you have vegetables and other plants that you plan to eat.
Water in the evening
Make sure to practice evening watering, so that plants have the most time possible to absorb water and nutrients before the sun dries out the soil again.
Don’t just sprinkle a little bit of water, water heavily, preferably with a watering can so that you can keep track of how much water you use in each spot.
As a rule of thumb, a 10 liter watering can equals approximately 10 mm of rain on 1 m2.
If possible, water every other day. Stick your finger in the soil to feel if it’s really dry, sometimes the soil retains moisture longer than we think.
Ollas are an ancient technique for saving water and keeping the soil evenly moist.
You can use ones you’ve made yourself from old clay pots (plastic doesn’t work, it needs to be unglazed clay for the water to seep out) or specially made ones like these.
Drip irrigation through a hose system can also be a great solution, especially if you need to water larger areas. It provides even watering and doesn’t waste water unnecessarily as the hoses are directly on the ground. There are plenty of solutions available, including solar-powered options. You can ask for them at your local garden store or search for them online.
I hope my tips have been helpful to you. If you found this article informative, please feel free to share it as it would be a great help to me.
“How do you make your garden thrive when it’s dry? Please leave a comment, maybe you have a tip that the rest of us need?”