Dealing With Drought
July 06, 2012
Like everyone else in the area, I have to deal with less than adequate rainfall this year. In fact, a large part of the country has to cope with drought conditions this year. Lawns are stressed, gardens are stressed, and trees and shrubs are stressed, too. This makes the gardener stressed. Fortunately, our area isn’t in the worst of the drought conditions. So with a little work, we can save most of our gardens and plants.
One thing I learned when I set out to discover what I could do for my garden was to stop fertilizing. Fertilizing plants stimulates new growth, which is very susceptible to damage in dry, hot conditions. The same goes with pruning. This encourages shrubs and trees to put out fresh growth. In addition to being tenderer, this new growth pulls on energy the plant needs for survival in these tough growing conditions.
Many plants have their own ways of coping with drought. Some, like our lawns, go dormant with the excess heat and inadequate moisture. Some trees also go dormant early, dropping their leaves to conserve water and energy. I have seen many leaves floating around lately, so I’m beginning to wonder if some of our trees are thinking of taking their winter naps early.
Most garden plants, unless they are drought-tolerant natives or very deeply rooted, need some help to get through the dry heat. I have been watering my roses on a weekly basis, and my tomatoes nearly every other day. My poor old-fashioned phlox still can’t get enough water to look very happy despite all the extra I give it. One of the best ways to help these plants along is to mulch them heavily. A 2 to 3 inch deep layer of mulch helps retain vital moisture and also helps keep the ground cooler. So far, I have not heard of any water restrictions in our area, but that is subject to change. I am trying to conserve as much water as I can now to help forestall any shortages down the road. I am watering for survival now, not lush growth in my garden plants.
Lee's Summit Branch