Friday, March 25, 2011
Water. It’s one of our most precious resources. It is essential to every life form, especially the vegetables that grow in our gardens. Without water, seeds won’t germinate, the lush green foliage of vegetable plants will wither away and fruits and vegetables won’t be plump and juicy.
Plants depend on water, carbon dioxide and light to manufacture food. When plants do not get enough water, the microscopic openings on the undersides of the leaves (called stomata) close to limit water loss. If too much water is lost, plants wilt.
To save the water supply and ensure there is enough water to grow vegetables to feed society, we need to balance conservation with need. It is important to use water wisely and efficiently in our gardens.
Here are a few tips to help you grow a luscious vegetable garden using the least amount of water possible.
Add organic matter to the soil. Organic matter provides nutrients and improves the water-holding capacity of the soil. Organic matter should be composted. Throw grass clippings and leaves, garden and kitchen wastes (no meats, fats, or oils), and livestock manures (but not from domestic pets such as cats and dogs) into a pile and let it rot. Work at least an inch of organic matter into the garden soil each year.
Water effectively. Water the soil not the plants using drip irrigation. Drip irrigation keeps the areas between plants dry and limits weed growth. A timer ensures that a measured amount of water gets to plants. Rain gauges keep the garden from being watered during a rainfall. Water in the morning to reduce water lost to evaporation.
Mulch regularly. Mulch retains water, reduces evaporation and keeps weeds under control. Weeds use nutrients and water that are needed by vegetables. Over time, the mulch decomposes and turns into compost.
Plant windbreaks and build fences. The wind can have a drying effect on plants. Windbreaks and fences slow down the force of the wind and reduce water evaporation from the soil.
Collect rain water. Install rain barrels next to downspouts. A 1,000 square foot roof yields about 625 gallons of water from one inch of rain.
By incorporating just a few of these water saving techniques in your garden, you can help ensure that our water resources will be available to provide future food supplies.
Posted by Andrew King at 10:15 AM