Many regions across the world are deeply affected by severe drought. Some regions are affected temporarily (for instance, during summer), while other regions are affected all year round.
People who fall in the latter category do not see any point in trying to garden because they believe they can’t reap the benefits of their labor – literally and figuratively.
With wells and reservoirs running dry, the most serious issue that arises is how you can make sure that your plants are happy and most importantly healthy with little water supply.
Think like a plant
The first thing you need to get accustomed with is how a plant deals with water. I will tell you a little bit about how a plant absorbs, uses, and eliminates the water. Once you get the hang of it, you will think of gardening as a very fun activity to partake in daily.
Most common plants absorb little to no water through their leaves. This process is almost completely handled by the roots of the plant, acting like slot sites. The more roots a plant has, the better it absorbs water. In order to make sure that there is a well-developed root system pushing out into the soil, you must ensure that the soil is capable of providing proper growth conditions. Here’s what you need to do:
Prepare the soil
Make sure that it has an optimal PH level (5.5-7 range)
Add organic fertilizers (peat moss, shredded leaves, compost, etc.)
Add nonorganic fertilizers (to keep nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels in check)
If you add organic fertilizers, the soil will be able to retain much more moisture. You can do a little experiment: water the soil before and after you have applied organic fertilizers, and you’ll see that much more water is being retained in the latter scenario.
Eliminating the Water
If plants do not absorb much water through their leaves, they do eliminate almost all of it through their leaves – almost 99%. In botany, this process is referred to as transpiration, and is a necessary part of the plant’s metabolic process. It is also the only process that allows them to cool themselves in hot weather.
Your goal here is to minimize the amount of water that plants lose in order to cool themselves. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all guide on this. The best advice I can offer is to plant your plants in strategic areas, like under a tall tree or bigger plants. Whatever you do, make sure your plants get a little shade.
Don’t panic if you notice the leaves becoming droopy – that is in fact a natural self-defense mechanism. Once the sun sets, the leaves will perk up to their normal look.
Now that you know how a plant absorbs and eliminates water, let’s pore over a few ways to make sure that your plants get the best treatment possible
Weed out any weeds
Weeds compete with your plants to get as much water, nutrients, and light as they can. Handpick weeds when they’re about 2 to 3 inches tall, or at least make sure that they don’t get any water and light and they will slowly wither.
Whatever you do, make sure their seeds do not spread in the garden and multiply – it will be much harder to deal with the situation.
Reduce the number of plants in your garden
When you are finished eliminating the weeds in your garden, you should also consider planting fewer plants. This may or may not be necessary depending on how harsh your climate is, but it never hurts to have less competition anyway.
Harvest on time
Don’t leave your plants in the boiling sun for too much time. Handpick them at their peak of growth and flavor. This comes in handy with any type of gardening, and not only dry gardening.
Always irrigate the plants at their base, so that the water can easily go through the soil directly to the roots.
Collect as much rainwater as you can
For instance, you can capture rainwater from rain gutters in large garbage cans under rainspouts, which can be used to make compost tea. However, keep in mind that in some countries rainwater harvesting may be illegal.
For example, in the United States, 9 states do not allow you to collect water because it’s “state property”. Always make sure you comply with your local laws before trying to collect water.