Everything has changed since I started this blog.
Our lovely mild winter has turned into severe drought conditions. Many ranchers are selling off cattle because there is no summer pasture. Our town is officially on water restriction (for lawns). Today was nearly 90 degrees and bone dry. This is August weather, not May.
I am not overly excited about planting a garden only to have it die off due to lack of water. So, I went to City Hall and found out the following:
- The current water restrictions apply to lawns and landscaping
- The recommendation for veggie gardens: water only after dark, and apply the bare minimum needed to produce veggies (just reprogrammed my timer)
- The lawn restrictions can and probably will get worse (“water only 2 days)”.
- The next step after that will be “water 1 day” and the final step will be “inside water use only.”
The town folks encourage us to keep veggie gardens going through all this, but if we go to” inside water use only”, that is the end of the veggies!!!
So, I have to think through two issues.
First, what is the effect of watering veggies only after dark. Broad-leaved plants, such as zuchinni, winter squash and gourds will fry. They struggle over 90 degrees when watered during the day! The presence of broad-leaved plants in my garden is looking doubtful. Additionally, many seeds will simply dry out during the day and never germinate (my carrots and beets seem to have gone that route).
The second issue is: how can I be a good steward of our water, in general? What I am thinking at this point:
- Not growing more than I can use/freeze/pickle
- Not growing the water hogs (corn and beans have the highest water use)
- Not growing the fun exotics (okra, loofa, etc)
- Planting as much as I can in the over-spray areas of the lawn sprinklers (been heading this direction anyway)
- Planting as much as I can in containers
- Keeping the hay bale planters going, which are on the shady side of my house
- Mulching heavily
- Devising some shade solutions
None of these solutions are terrible. Here are the consequences:
- Unless we hit “inside use only” I should be able to plant enough to still be self sufficient.
- The variety of veggies may be reduced, but I should be able to get by.
- I can buy the other stuff at area farmer’s market.
- I can leave a large part of my garden fallow for the year, which is never a bad thing
- I can plant more heavily for fall harvest if we get some rain and the drought breaks
- I will learn some water conservation techniques that I can use every year
You may be wondering why I don’t mention drip-irrigation. I do have the flower beds on drip; however, I don’t use it on the veggies. I believe that the plastics used in drip tubing and source lines throw off some harmful chemicals, and I don’t want them in my veggies. If I am going to do all this work to grow my own produce, I want it as clean and healthy as possible.
Yes…plastic hoses also have the same issue. That is why I am changing to safer, all rubber hoses to water the edible parts of my garden (I can’t find them in town, but they are available at Amazon.com).
Anyway, here is what I have decided so far:
- I already have potatoes, garlic, and onions in the ground (along with a few tomatoes). They are up and will stay.
- I have many pepper, eggplant, and tomato seedlings ready to set out. They will probably go in the “over-spray areas” and containers.
- I have lots of cabbage seedlings, and since I have to make choices, I will choose to set these out over planting corn and beans
- No corn, beans
- Minimal broad-leaved plants (squash family)
- No root crops, other than parsnips, which are already planted. If rain or a cool spell comes I will add beets.
- Lots more of the leafy veggies in my hay bale planter
- Anything else will get tucked in here and there.
- I will have a lot of unused seed….a small fortune. Hope some will be good next year.
I will update you as soon as I figure it all out!
Last year we had a cool, wet spring. This year, the exact opposite.