Does the idea of growing your own fresh fruits and vegetables excite you? Then you’re not alone. There’s a growing number of homeowners who are converting a portion of their yard to the endeavor. But what do you do if you live in a dry climate? Is it still possible to be a part of this trend?
The short answer is yes. You can have a vegetable garden, even in a hot dry climate. By creating a dry vegetable garden, you can make the most of the water you have. Just follow these simple guidelines and soon you’ll be eating the rewards!
Amend the soil
A dry vegetable garden needs good soil to thrive. Add compost or manure to your existing soil, the more the better. Add at least a half inch to your garden twice a year, in the fall and spring. The amendments will improve the overall condition of you soil and more importantly will help it retain the water it does get.
Mulch your garden
Mulch is an easy way to help your soil stay moist by preventing evaporation. It also suppresses weeds and maintains a steady soil temperature. There are many mulches to choose from, something as simple as straw, leaves, grass clippings, newspaper or pine needles. You can also buy bagged mulch or even get wood chippings from your city. Don’t apply mulch directly next to plant stems as this causes rot.
Be vigilant with weeds
Weeds will compete with your vegetables for water, nutrients and light, so don’t neglect weeding. Pull them out when they are two to three inches tall and dispose of them.
Plant fewer plants
Space your plants further apart than recommended on the package. Fewer plants lets each plant get a little more water. Be sure to give seedlings plenty of water when they are becoming established.
Thin plants on time
Be sure to thin seedlings when they are just an inch or two tall, leaving just the strongest seedlings. This allows the remaining plants to use the water and nutrients they need to grow, and you are not wasting water on seedlings that won’t succeed.
Harvest crops on time
Harvest your vegetables at their peak of growth and flavor. Don’t let vegetables languish in the ground too long, or they will not taste as good and the crops will deteriorate.
Water deeply and infrequently
Plant roots go where the water is. By watering deeply and infrequently you allow the water to seep down slowly into the soil instead of quickly running off or evaporating. Water early in the morning or in the evening to minimize evaporation.
Place a large trash can or rain barrel under your rain spouts to capture rainwater. Fill your watering cans with this, or make compost tea by adding water to compost so that plants will absorb more nutrients.
Use drip irrigation
Set up a drip irrigation line at the base of the plants so the water goes directly to the roots. Ask at your local garden center for a system you can set up yourself.
By following these simple guidelines, you can have a bountiful vegetable harvest even in the driest of climates!