Using water conservation during times of drought or at any time is ideal for organic seed gardens. These hardy strains have lived for generations and are able to acclimate to a variety of conditions. Ensuring they receive enough moisture is essential to maximize production and flavor. This can be difficult in hot, dry areas of the country, however as resourceful gardeners have shown it is quite possible.
Preparation is key when planning a garden in areas where sufficient rainfall is limited. Soil in these areas may not be the highest quality, but may consist of hard, packed clay or dry sand. Even rich black dirt will clump and be difficult to work when moisture is limited. So what should be considered when planning gardens for water conservation? The following hints will help:
• Raised garden beds can be beneficial for conserving moisture while gardening. Soil preparation is imperative in areas where the native soil allows moisture to run straight through or is too dry and hard. Raised beds allow gardeners to use high quality organic fertilizers in small areas.
• Vertical gardening can be combined with raised beds or used in areas where there is little space, allowing a more concentrated area at the base of the plants for watering.
• Mulching around the base of the plants will help retain moisture in the roots where it is needed.
• Drip irrigation systems can be run throughout the garden as well as for trees and bushes. This directs water to the roots of the plants rather than top layers of the soil where it will dry out. It is especially effective when combined with mulch and compost.
• Fog farming along areas at the coast helps provide plants with moisture they would not otherwise receive and methods to catch the fog enhance the benefits.
• Similar to fog farming, dew can be captured in many areas that don’t receive adequate rain. Collectors can include using large sheets of plastic to catch and direct the moisture to a rain barrel or other collection device.
• Water collected using the above methods can be applied to individual plants using a watering can directed at the roots of the plant. Slowly pour the water around the base to prevent runoff and increase root absorption.
• Recognize the signs of moisture depletion and plan to water when it is most beneficial to the plants. Leaves will often curl slightly during hot parts of the day, although this is generally not a good time to turn on the sprinkler. Evaporation depletes moisture quickly if applied using a conventional sprinkler, and water at night may create more problems than it solves.
• Keep the garden weeded to prevent these invaders from absorbing the moisture meant for plants. Organic seed gardeners won’t want to apply chemicals as they will negate the benefits of organically grown produce. Instead plan to weed when the ground is moist, early mornings are often best.
By planting organic seed on flat areas of the garden rather than slopes, gardeners will increase the roots ability to absorb moisture. Aim for a spot which provides protection from the wind. Warm winds can rip leaves, but worse, they also rob plants of valuable moisture. Organic seed gardening using sustainable practices is an innovative method to provide food for families.