Drought – What Can You Do About It?

I do not know how much rain you got for your garden this spring, but we were about 2 inches short in May and had the driest June ever and the second driest month of all time.  We just did not get any moisture, but the garden looks pretty good.

Some things did not fair as well as possible, but overall it looks good.  The peas did not last long.  They just dried up, and they were mulched.  I assume that the heat was too much for them.  The early potatoes matured too quickly and were small.  

The beans in the hoop house were doing great (I watered them every other day) until we had several days over 100 degrees.  I guess it was just too much heat.  The beets and cabbage in the hoop house are still growing.  Well, the shrew did eat a few beets.  Hey, shrews have to eat too.

It seemed the plants had a hard time until I mulched them and soaked the ground under the mulch with the soaker hose.  Since then, the plants have looked really good, even in the hottest heat.  Officially we had 104°, but our thermoter said 110°, that’s hot.

I have mulched every thing, but the newest beans and will do that soon, as they get tall enough to stick up through the mulch.  I use straw as it is readily available in our area.

On the hottest days I run a misting hose over the tomatoes and put a piece of row cover over the top of the cages.  I have had the blooms on the tomatoes dry up during hot spells, no bloom no fruit.  But, the blooms look good and there are several nice green tomatoes on the vines.

The flower garden is not doing as well.  I do not water the flowers unless they are really suffering.  I just redid a section of the flower bed, this year.  They are getting just enough water to keep them alive and barely growing.  As soon as they get tall enough they will get mulched with bark mulch, that should help a bunch.

The reason I am telling you all this is to let you know you can garden during a drought if you take extra care of your plants.  The mulch is the key.  Use whatever you have to cover the ground, and use plenty of it.  Mulching cools the ground and retains moisture for the plant.  It is hard to put enough water on plants without the mulch.  So, find what you can like straw, newspaper, leaves from last fall, grass clippings you saved from before the drought started, cardboard, etc.

Row cover is another tool for a drought.  It seems to shade the plants enough to make a difference.  Be careful with green beans.  The row cover will stick to the leaves of the beans and the sun will cook them.  I use a hoop made of number 9 wire to keep the cover off the leaves as much as possible.  If you are not troubled by bean beetles you can get by without the row cover, if you mulch and water good.

If you plan ahead and catch the rain water early from your roof, you can use it to save some on the water bill, if you are on city water.

Hope this will help you if you are as dry as we are here in Indiana.  The other suggestion I have is to take care of your bird friends.  Put out some water for them and start feeding them, if you have stopped.  I do not feed the birds in the summer, usually they will just stop eating out of the feeder.  But, I filled one of the feeders the other day and noticed several birds making trips to it, so I guess they were hungry.

One good thing about the drought is the lack of bugs.  I have not had any serious bug problems this gardening season, thus far.  This is the third year in a row that we have been dry sometime during the summer, so the insect numbers may be down in general, with one exception…cabbage worms.  They have been terrible.  Row cover helps, but when the broccoli gets tall it is hard to keep it on and those darn butterflies get under it.

The dry weather is really hard on the bees.  If you can, keep whatever flowers going for the bees.

Best of luck with your gardening this summer.  Hope you are putting away a bountiful harvest.

Great gardening,

Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century.  Gardening is a great way to, not only grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul.  It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.  

Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family.  Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.

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