Sunday, July 19, 2015

How Does Your Garden Grow.....In a Drought?

Yes, believe it or not, this is my first Tomato of the Season.  Isn't it a beautiful Roma?  We actually had two ripen yesterday and Rooster Senior and I sliced them on a cutting board, grabbed the Salt and Pepper, and ate them!  They were sooo good!  There is nothing like a freshly picked tomato from your garden!

Gardening in a Drought:

A few weeks ago, I began to write about Gardening in a Drought and how I planned to water my Raised Bed Garden. Some of the techniques that I am using come from a class I took taught by Caleb Warnock from Renaissance Seeds. 

I thought I would update you and also show you some of my thoughts on vertical gardening that I am using.

I bought these panels of wire mesh from my local big box hardware store.  They are used to reinforce concrete when it is poured.  

See the width of the openings? I can easily fit my hand/fist through the openings to harvest my garden.  The squares are 4 inches by 4 inches.  

Rooster Senior had these wire ties to attach the grid to the PVC Pipe.  Let me tell you about the PVC pipes.  Pieces of Rebar were pounded into the ground. Lengths of PVC pipes were placed over the Rebar for the vertical pieces.  T-fittings and elbow fittings were used to create the horizontal pieces to attach the wire mesh to.

I train my beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers to climb the mesh. This helps keep the vegetables off the ground, supports the vines/stalks, and makes harvesting so much easier.

We all have those rogue socks that we can never find the mate of...right?  These are nylon hose-type socks that I cannot find the mates to.

I used these socks to secure my Tomato stalks to the grid. These plants are heavy laden with Tomatoes already and need the support. I gently tied these to the grid which allows for them to continue growing without being constricted.

Here is another example of re-purposing these socks.  See the blue sock?

Keeping your Garden Watered during a Drought...

Here you can see a little visitor getting a bit of a shower.  You can also see how I water my garden with holes drilled in a PVC pipe.  I only water every 2-3 days and sometimes go longer.  Mr. Warnock says he goes as long as 7-10 days depending upon how deeply he has watered.  He taught me to look at the Panting Peonies. Essentially, I have planted squash and pumpkins (My Peonies). If they wilt during the day, but perk up at night, the soil still has enough moisture.  As my garden is watered per my lawn schedule, I rarely have gone more than 2-3 days.

I have also used my lawn clippings to cover the ground around my plantings. The Tomatoes have loved this.  The clippings hold in the moisture and keep my plants watered and cool.

Although difficult to see behind my beautiful Roma, the Tomato plants, peppers, and herbs are thriving with lawn clippings around their base.

I have also used Mr. Warnock's lettuce seeds that are hearty enough to not only grow in my area, but also they are reportedly more drought tolerant.  You can see that they are thriving with the mulching and periodic water schedule.

Take Home Points:

  • The PVC pipe and wire mesh are reasonably priced.  It cost very little to make the Vertical piece of the garden. I was fortunate that Rooster Senior had pieces of Rebar that we used to hold the vertical frame in place.
  • The grass clippings/mulch really hold the moisture in the soil.  When the top of the clippings look dry, I have looked under them at the soil level. Honestly, there is plenty of moisture at the bottom of the clippings and the soil.  This has been a real surprise for me. 
  • The Peonies have been a pleasant surprise for me as well. It's like a secret code.  I actually have not always been able to water my lawn on the selected days allowed in my area due to the drought.  The Peonies have been a big source of relief for me to ensure that my soil was still moist enough.
  • I love repurposing things when  I can.  Those errand socks, (although a little hillbilly looking), are working well.  
  • The specific seeds that are for my area (heirloom type) really seem to be thriving even in dry conditions.  I have been pleased overall to be blessed enough to use them this year.
You can grow a garden in a drought....and it can thrive.  Please know that if I can do this, anyone can.  My kids can tell you that gardening has not always been my strong suit.  This year, I am feeling very pleased with "how my garden grows".

Try it!

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