Category Archives: rain

Planning and Planting a Drought Tolerant Vegetable Garden

In Virginia we have had summer heat and dryness earlier . May and June presented many hot dry days and for some people the result is a stunted garden that was hit with heat before the roots and established at a safe depth to thrive in the heat of summer.

After we/you do some “regular” watering to keep everything growing………

WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR THIS SEASON?

The next question is , HOW CAN WE PREVENT THIS PROBLEM IN THE FUTURE?

Immediate Solution / Actions:

Water more frequently in smaller amounts. Water directly without sprinkler or over head water spraying gear. This will limit evaporation and get the most water to the roots. The plants will get stronger as the roots spread and reach more deeply into the soil. They will also get more of the necessary nutrients from the soil (and those added), as the roots grow and reach the plant becomes stronger. The stronger plnt will have deeper roots and greater ability to survive tough weather

HOW to MULCH  EACH PLANT ? :

If you have mulched already- how thick is it? What material did you use? What if the soils is naked now?…..What do you have to mulch with right now?
BIG MULCH QUESTION(s)- Can water flow through to the soil/roots? Does it remain damp?

You will need a BIO-degradable material and I have found cut grass to be the best option, since it is readily available, porous and lightly colored ( so it won’t get too HOT !!)

Rake up  some freshly cut grass ( or use the grass catcher when cutting)  and spread it  around the base of each plant or along the rows. Strive for a 2-4 inch layer of grass . May build up to 4 inches over 2 or 3 lawn mowing efforts.  give each newly mulched plant a bit of water to fix the grass in place and to start the process.

Mulch will serve a few purposes- 1) keep the ground cool   2) break down for soil amendment and BIGGIE 3) will help soil hold the water and keep it with the plant and roots.

Other mulch materials- chopped leaves (if whole- runner through mower), pine needles, shredded paper mixed with leaves or grass [don’t shred

LEAVES OF GRASS

] , wood chips, saw dust, or compost.

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More Hugelkultur Info and more Garden output later.

More Hugelkultur Info and more Garden output later.

Planning with hugelkultur for dry summers based on the last 2 years- of course this year we have been quite wet.

Need to build at least 2 more beds before next summer.

Finally summer- like and Some dry sunny days.

Now that the hottest week of summer has passed and the early summer rainy season has passed. The plants have a chance dry out and grow. After several weeks of wet-feet the plants that survived now have the chance to grow and produce flowers and fruit. Image

After 3 sunny days without rain the sun and dry warm earth gave the wet plants a chance to grow and start producing. A slow growing cucumber took off, grew 18” and produced the first cucumber of the season, tomatoes grew 3-6” each and the cabbage started to fill out. Herbs that had been doing well took off, rosemary went from 12’ to 26”, parsley filled out and winter savory exploded in size. Greens remained leggy and will be turned under as a manure and 2nd planting of green beans were removed after bugs took over. The new beans sprouted in 5 days and are about to climb the bamboo teepee- time to keep them protected and sprayed with a little soap and onion tea….

Now a week later the melons and squash are flowering and climbing. They should be fruiting  soon and if I can keep them wet enough  and producing food .  I have 2 kinds of melons plus 2 winter squash and some fun patty-pan summer squash. No Zucchini or crookneck squash this year( plenty from friends). Image

Recent floods didn’t seem to tear my garden up as much as some of my neighbors, the pallet based raised beds seem to be helping. The goal at the end of the season will be to build up double-decker or triple level pallets for deeper root options and to better handle heavy rains. The raised beds will also make it easier to control irrigation in the event of dry or drought like summer.

The hugelkultur hill I built seems to be working well but I need to perfect the process. I have plans to build at least 1 more.

I have started some fall kale and it seems to be coming up nicely and I will thin it shortly.

  I have collards and beets for another fall crop and will some start some garlic for next year.

Summers are for floods….

Some summers are dry even to the level of drought- this year we have been getting a lot of rain and the garden has been muddy and the plants have been stagnant. Not much lost yet but not much growing since the roots have been wet/submerged.

Last week  the community garden- along a stream- was flooded after several days of 1-2″ rainfall that culminated in a 2-3″ downpour Thursday afternoon until Friday morning. Luckily the damage in my garden spot was limited to flooding and the loss of some mulch/grass.     Image

I spent a few hours Saturday replanting some beans that had faltered and were ‘bugged”

I also have several pieces of wood to dig and build an additional hugelkultur hill for fall planting and next seasons planting.

The weather has been sunny and dry this week , I am hoping the tomatoes and cukes that have been growing will start flowering and producing fruit. The roots now have the chance to dry out and breathe and support plant/fruit growth. I hope the weeds take a break but i am sure this dry and sunny spell will also bring them out in full force and glory- hopefully some of them are edible. Image