How to keep your home garden healthy in drought conditions: when to water and other tips
With few rain chances in the 10-day forecast, you’ll want to keep your watering can handy. Even after a rainy stretch last week, nearly 95% of Indiana and right around two-thirds of Michiana is still experiencing drought. Dry conditions this year have made gardening a bit trickier, more watering and garden maintenance has been required in order to keep up home gardens.
Here’s a check in with our current yearly and monthly rain totals:
June – Normal: 4.04”, Observed: 2.23”, Down 1.81” from Normal
July – Normal: 1.42”, Observed: 1.50”, Down 0.08” from Normal
2022 – Normal: 20.47”, Observed: 17.80”, Down 2.67” from Normal
We are still slightly above normal for rainfall this July, but over 2.5” lower than where we should be for the year.
To keep your garden healthy, it’s important to know when to water so your plants are getting all the moisture they need. Over the next 5 days, there is only 1 good chance for rainfall in the forecast. We’re tracking scattered thunderstorms for Sunday, but with a dry finish to the week, you’ll need to keep watering until then.
It is also important when you water your garden – in the morning is better than at night. This is because water on the leaves in the morning will evaporate during the day, but water on the leaves in the evening will generally stay there all night long.
When water stays on the leaves, it increases the likelihood for growth of fungal spores which can infect the plant with fungal diseases. Because of this, the best time to water your garden is from 5-9am. It is also good to water earlier in the morning so that the water can seep into the soil and not evaporate too quickly.
If you can’t make it out in the morning, make sure to avoid the leaves of your plants as much as possible, only wetting the soil.
With drought likely to last through a good amount of the summer, it’s good to know how to properly take care of your garden in drought conditions.
One of the first steps would be to choose plants that are drought-tolerant that can survive high heat and don’t need as much water. Some examples of these would be cosmos, sunflowers, and lavender.
Next would be mulching your garden – usually 1-2 inches is good for vegetables and flower plants. Mulch is organic material that helps your garden retain moisture throughout the season, prevent the growth of weeds, and provide nutrients to your plants.
Another technique you can use on your garden is a ‘no-till’ or ‘no-dig’ method, which is when you avoid purposely disrupting the soil. Tilling or digging into your garden’s foundation can increase the amount of water runoff, which will not only make it more difficult for your soil to retain moisture, but can also lead to any fertilizers and pesticides used flowing into nearby rivers, lakes, and other water reservoirs.