The drought here in California is serious and scary. We have been asked to reduce our water usage as much as possible and for the most part the sacrifices have been easy. I have no problem taking quick showers and letting the lawn get brown, but I didn't want to miss out on a fruit and vegetable harvest. I set out to make my vegetable garden as drought-friendly as possible and I've teamed up with Edyn to share my very best tips. The best part? These gardening tips are super helpful, even if you don't have to worry about drought!
How To Grow A Drought-Friendly Garden
1. Use Straw Mulch. A thick layer of straw really helps keep moisture where you want it, in the ground. You have many options for mulch but I have had the most success with straw and as an added bonus, it's cheap!
2. Monitor with Edyn. This thing is so rad! Edyn is a sensor that lives in your garden and connects to your smart phone. It relays valuable information about moisture, nutrition, light, and humidity. It takes all the guess work out of when to water. With it's help I have been able to keep my garden just moist enough without overwatering.
3. Install Drip Irrigation. Watering your plants right at the soil helps insure that you don't waste water to evaporation or areas that don't have plants. Installing drip irrigation doesn't have to be a complicated endeveavor. In fact, my favorite way to water my raised beds is with soaker hose. I zigzag a soaker hose around the plants, cover it with straw, and attach it directly to a hose bibb (you can also attach it to a hose with an adaptor). Then I just barely turn on the faucet and let it slowly drip into the soil.
4. Try Deep Watering with Milk Jugs. This year I decided to try watering my tomatoes as little as possible. We live in too arid a place to truly dry farm, but with the help of this DIY watering system I have been able to water them deeply, and rarely. Simply save up one gallon milk jugs, drill a few hole in the sides and bury them in between your plants. Whenever your plants are thirsty, fill the jugs, and the water will slowly seep into the earth right where your plants need it most.
5. Recycle Water. In a perfect world we would all have rain catchment and grey water systems complete with cisterns and pumps, but there are simple ways to collect water that would otherwise go to waste. Consider placing a rain barrel at one of your roof's down spouts. And if you use earth friendly soaps you can recycle bath water for your thirsty plants.
6. Skip the Water Hogs. Gardening in drought conditions does involve some sacrifice. I skipped watermelons, cucumbers, and corn this year because they tend to need a whole lot of water.
7. Try Some Shade. I planted greens (chard and kale) in most-to-partial shade. It helps them not bolt in the summer heat and they require much less water than when they are planted in full sun.
8. Plant Perennials. Consider expanding your fruit and vegetable haul with unthristy perennials. My artichokes receive no supplemental water and I get a great harvest every winter and spring. We also have a pomegranate tree that once established needs no extra water and provides us will loads of jewel studded fruit! Grapes are another rough-friendly perennial, our pergola is dripping with grapes and I never water the vine! Woody herbs such as rosemary and thyme are also drought resistant.
9. Use Compost. Compost not only provides nutrients for your plants, it also helps improve the water retention of your soil. Furthermore, having nutrient rich soil helps your plants grow strong and hearty, making them better able to withstand periods of dryness. Plus, if you use compost your Edyn will tell you that your plants love you!
10. Try Containers. Grouping plants with the same water needs in containers or raised beds helps a lot. This way you can easily water according to needs without excess waste. I love planting my strawberries in a big galvanized tub where it's easy to give them the water they need.
I hope these tips help you enjoy gardening, even in dry conditions!
Here's to a Happy (Guilt-Free) Harvest!
A big thanks to Edyn for sponsoring this post. As always all words, photos, and opinions are my own.