Prolific Gardens.

first_imgDon’t let the drought put a damper on your plans for a fallgarden. With a little forethought, you can still have a plentifulfall harvest despite the water bans.”When it comes to gardening, you can do a lot of thingseven during a water ban,” said Wayne McLaurin, an ExtensionService horticulturist with the University of Georgia Collegeof Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Collect Water from Inside Your HomeWater bans across the state may limit the amount of water youcan use outdoors, but you can still use water from indoors.”If you’ll collect the water you use to wash your handsand wash vegetables and the water you waste waiting for the hotwater to arrive,” McLaurin said, “you’ll have a tremendousamount to use in your garden.”You can also reduce the amount of water your fall garden needsby putting some extra thought into where you plant your vegetables.Carefully Select Your Garden Site”Nonfruiting fall vegetables like lettuce, collards, turnipsand mustard greens can be grown in a shaded area where they willneed much less water to grow,” McLaurin said. “Picka spot where they will get four to five hours of sun instead ofthe traditional eight hours.”McLaurin said beets and carrots can also be grown in shadedareas, although they perform better in full sun.”For these crops, select a spot that gets morning sunand not afternoon sun,” he said. “They need the shadein the afternoon when the September sun is so hot.”Plant the Right CropsAnother way to reduce your fall garden’s water need is to selectthe right crops.”Collards, kale, cabbage and broccoli all have protectivecoatings that hold moisture in,” McLaurin said. “That’swhy they look waxy. They don’t lose water and wilt easily likemustard and turnips do.”If your water supply is limited this fall, avoid planting squash,snap beans, tomatoes and peppers. “These fruiting plantsneed more water to produce,” he said.”The rule of thumb with fall favorites like lettuce, tomatoesand Irish potatoes is: If you don’t have water, don’t plant it,”McLaurin said.Lettuce is more than 98 percent water. Tomatoes are betterthan 90 percent water. Even though Irish potatoes are firm, they’reabout 75 percent water.”The larger the plant, the greater the water consumption,”McLaurin added.”Tomatoes take a lot more water to produce than do collards,”he said. “If it fruits and has leaves, it takes more waterthan if it just has leaves (such as greens). Green beans and collardsare about the same size plant, but beans need more water.”Don’t Forget to MulchThe most important water conservation tool you can use in yourgarden is mulch, McLaurin said.”You need to add a good three inches around your plantsto keep the ground moist,” he said. “First, take a sprinklercan and moisten the plant and then put your mulch around the plantbeing sure to keep it at least three inches away from the base.The plant needs this area to get air to the root system.”McLaurin said there’s no secret to which mulch is the best.”All mulches work, and the best one to use is the one thatcosts you the least,” he said. “Leaves people are throwingaway make great, free mulch. Just chip them up and apply themto your plants.”Many municipalities provide mulching material free. Check withyour local roadside department.”If you’re a true gardener, the drought won’t keep youfrom planting a garden this fall,” McLaurin said. “Gardenersare ingenious. They know how to work around obstacles like droughts.”last_img