Self-watering planters have hidden reservoirs that allow plants to use water more efficiently and go longer between waterings.
California’s ongoing drought recently prompted the first statewide mandatory water use reduction there, and it’s likely that water restrictions will be imposed in other areas of the country that are experiencing unusually dry conditions. You can still grow vegetables — even during water restrictions — if you plan, plant and tend plants wisely. And drought or no drought, it always makes sense to conserve this precious resource. Here are twelve tips for healthy, water-wise vegetables.
1. Select crops that will mature quickly, before midsummer heat. Plan a second planting in fall.
2. Add compost to soil to help it retain moisture.
3. Set plants in groups or 3–4′ wide rows, rather than long, single rows. Plants that are grouped will shade the soil, reducing water loss from evaporation.
4. Apply a 3″ layer of organic mulch, such as bark mulch, coir, straw or pine straw, around vegetable plants — even those growing in containers — to conserve moisture.
5. Remove weeds regularly, because they compete with crops for water resources.
7. Water only when needed. Check soil moisture with your finger.
9. Water slowly and deeply, ensuring that the entire root zone is moistened, to encourage far-ranging roots and plants with greater drought tolerance.
Install a rain barrel
to make use of free rainwater.
During the hottest part of the summer, use shade cloth
to reduce evaporation.
12. Grow plants in self-watering containers. Keep the reservoir filled and plants will get a steady supply of moisture from below, reducing loss through evaporation.
- Drought-Proofing: Ways to combat drought in your garden, including mulch, watering systems, rain barrels and timers.