By Ankaret Dean, Lanark Master Gardeners
So far this year has not been an easy growing year for gardeners, especially those on a well with a limited amount of watering potential.
However here are a few ideas which will be useful, perhaps a little late for this year but helpful for the future.
Firstly, mulching the garden beds certainly helps prevent evaporation from hot sun and drying winds. Cedar mulch is good, but straw, hay and dry leaves can provide adequate shelter. Other possibilities are layers of newspapers or old thin carpets laid out between tomato plants or under trailing squash. Just make sure the water can be absorbed around the base of the plant.
Try not to disturb the plants roots during hot weather by pulling out weeds growing beside them. They may enjoy the protection of a little more shade.
Soaker hoses are a good method of watering as no water is evaporated and the water soaks in slowly.
Growing flowers, salad greens and tomatoes in pots is a good way of containing water around plants, and they can be kept in a place that is not in the hot midday sun.
Another helpful hint is to have an indentation around any new shrubs or trees, so that the water is concentrated around the roots as much as possible.
Choosing plants that are well adapted to hot dry weather is an asset. Many herbs come from the Mediterranean countries and thrive in hot dry weather. Some plants have particularly long roots, such as clover, dandelions, hollyhocks, delphiniums. These have a great advantage over the more shallow-rooted plants.
Conserving water is essential. Water butts under the downspouts are very worthwhile; even a small roof can be used to drain into a small pond or watering trough. Well water can be conserved in the house by taking quick showers, flushing the toilet fewer times, and some folk manage to conserve their grey water for watering the garden.
There are a couple of good thing about dry weather: no slugs on the hostas, few mosquitoes, and not much grass to cut, but for me a few rainy days will be a blessing.
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