A beautiful vegetable garden not suffering from drought – © jardins-familiaux.asso.fr
The presence of water and accompanying nutrients is vital to all living beings, whether humans, animals or plants. However, too much or too little of anything can be harmful. In this first article on water management, we will look at some simple solutions to better manage this precious resource in our garden.
The lack of water in the garden is a real problem which every gardener is confronted with at some point. Nonetheless, some precautions can be taken beforehand to limit the damages caused by drought:
1. COLLECT RAINWATER
Collect rainwater: A simple action that combines ecology and economy – © Mantis / V.Bouillot
During the summer or during periods of drought, it is not uncommon for communities to impose water restrictions.
A simple solution during these restricted times is to use rainwater that you have collected in big containers: bins, cans or barrels – virtually anything can become a water collector. (In some new housing estates, having a water collector is an obligation!) Stockpiling water is easy and extremely useful when water access is restricted. Be sure to take security precautions when collecting water when young children are present.
2. MANAGE WATERING TIMES
Try to water your garden in the morning or in the evening in order to avoid rapid evaporation. You can also invest in a drip watering system. Such systems even include an automatic scheduler in order to water consistently without having to think about it.
One of our customers sets a phone alarm in order to remember to water, as there are so many things to do and remember in any one day.
3. PLANT LOCAL SPECIES
Agaves are typical plants from the Mediterranean region where water is less abundant – © Mantis / V.Bouillot
Local species are generally adaptive of a region’s climate. Agaves and other cacti blossom in the South of France and especially throughout the Mediterranean region.
In other regions, agaves are planted in pots and put indoors during winter to avoid severe frosts.
If you live in an area subject to frequent drought ( and it is said that we are facing global warming!), think about planting drought-tolerant species like this one which requires less watering!
Whenever it is possible, add a layer of mulch to your plantings. It will help reduce the growth of weeds which act as a draw of water supplies at the expense of your plants. Mulching helps maintain humidity while considerably reducing evaporation.
Our favourite mulch for the vegetable garden is a mix of grass cuttings and dry leaves, ideally well-grounded down. The addition of leaves lightens and helps aerate the grass cuttings which can reduce or even prevent the absorption of water if it becomes too compact. Grass cuttings will in turn slow down the decomposition of grounded leaves.
Vegetal mulches enrich your soil as they decay so add them liberally and continuously throughout the season. Grass clippings are generally available as you maintain your lawn. Ground leaves can be stockpiled during the autumn and added in gradually as needed.
Mulch is an excellent solution to both protect and recycle – © Mantis / V. Bouillot
5. DROUGHT IS HERE! WHAT CAN STILL BE DONE
It is never too late to do the right thing! If drought is upon you and stubbornly persists, 3 simple gestures can save your crops and plants:
- Water in the morning or in the evening.
- Move plants out of the sun and into shade by either moving potted plants or by placing shade tunnels over them. Shade tunnels can be created from light wooden crates that you simply turn over your young plants to protect them
- Do not forget that weeds drink from the same source as your plants.
Why not buying a pluviometer? Of course, it won’t bring rain but it will enable you to determine precisely how much water your garden is receiving. Summer showers often drop varying quantities of water from one place to another and it is interesting to monitor how much of it is helping in the garden. You can even build one yourself or with your children or grandchildren, it is very easy: