In June and July we are busy tending our gardens, looking forward to juicy, ripe tomatoes and bushels of string beans. Unfortunately, Virginia has been experiencing record high temperatures for the month of June. In addition, rain does not seem to be in the forecast as often as we would like. How can we conserve water and keep our home gardens healthy? Here are some tips that might help:
1) Weed! Weeds compete with other plants for water. By weeding, you will ensure that your garden plants are the ones soaking up the water.
2) Pruning strengthens plants and reduces the amount of water needed to maintain them. For example, you can prune the bottom section of your tomato plant that does not yield any fruit.
3) Water your plants early in the morning. This will maximize water penetration and minimize evaporation that occurs at high noon.
4) Change your watering technique. Water deeply and slowly vs. fast and light. This will force your plants to develop a deep root system that will sustain the plants for longer periods of time.
5) Mulch your plants to help prevent the loss of moisture through evaporation.
6) Set up a drip irrigation system. This type of watering system has been shown to save water.
7) Watch the weather. Do not water if you are expecting rain.
8) Get creative! Think of ways to collect "wasted" water in your house for the garden. For example, put plastic buckets in your shower to collect water that would normally go down the drain.
There is a familiar proverb, "You never miss the water until the well runs dry." Simple water conservation activities are possible with a little planning.