Have you noticed how dry spring has been so far? Sure, it’s been cold and windy, but there hasn’t actually been much rain. We had to start watering the garden much earlier than usual. The lack of rain in summer can be a problem for gardeners. While we can’t control the weather, there are a few things we can do to prepare for the drier months so plants have the best chance of survival. Here are some tips:
· Water the garden early in the morning or in the evening when the sun isn’t at its strongest and plants can absorb moisture more effectively
· Use the ground for planting as much as possible. As much as I love container gardening, I’ve found that pots dry out a lot faster and plants sometimes end up dying from lack of water
· Remember that the smaller the pot, the faster it will dry out. Use bigger containers where possible. Any plants in punnets or 10 cm pots will dry out very quickly in summer so they might need to be watered several times per day
· For plants grown in containers, use a high quality potting mix, which often contains a wetting agent
· If the potting mix you are using doesn’t contain water storage crystals, you can add some, such as Yates Waterwise Water Storage Crystals
· Use mulch around plants in order to retain moisture. I really like using pea straw. Mulch comes in many different forms. It need not be expensive. Lawn clippings are great for putting around your fruit trees and roses
· Start collecting rainwater now! Rainwater can be collected in a simple bucket or a drum for use over the drier months
· Depending on how much space you have, you might want to think about adding a small tank to the garden, so you have a water supply in the event there are watering restrictions or a total ban in summer
· If you’re watering the garden by hand, invest in a decent hose. It’s worth it!
· Instead of watering the garden superficially every day, try to reduce watering to several times per week more deeply. In saying that, this hasn’t worked so well for us and we still find ourselves watering the garden every day because it really needs it. Bear in mind though that any containers might need to be watered every day as they dry out faster than plants in the ground
· Look into installing an irrigation system, which waters the garden in a more economical and effective manner. This could be as simple as a sprinkler or soaker hose. A gardening friend of mine swears by dripline as the water goes straight to the roots of the plant, avoiding the leaves which can lead to mildew for cucurbits and blight for tomatoes
· If you’re going to be away over Christmas, try to get someone to water the garden. You can also look into getting a house sitter through the NZ House Sitting Association, Wwoof or HelpX. Our neighbour usually waters the garden while we’re at our bach over Christmas. We personally wouldn’t trust wwoofers to look after the property while we’re not home based on some of the past experiences we have had while we were here!
Would anyone like to add anything I may have overlooked?
NB the photo is of our garlic in the garden