As a gardener you know that water consumption can greatly increase as you start your garden and even more so in the hot summer months. Growing your own vegetables and maintaining a healthy garden requires a lot of water, which can be a big problem. Excessive water use can be hard on the environment, especially in areas that are prone to drought. It also means that your water bills are a lot higher, so it’s important that you find ways to cut back. The good news is, there are some simple ways that you can reduce water usage to protect the environment and save yourself a lot of money at the same time. Yay!
Simple Ways to Save Water in Your Garden
Collecting rainwater and using it in your garden is one of the best ways to reduce the environmental burden because that water is not taken from rivers or limited reservoirs that can run dry during the summer. It’s also completely free (the water), so setting up a system for collecting rainwater should be your first priority. If you install some large water tanks in the garden, you should be able to collect and store enough water to keep your garden going during the summer. Think about how much surface area there is on your roof for example. When all the rain hitting that surface is collected it adds up fast. Even a few small rain barrels will prove to be very helpful.
There are many different kinds of water storage tanks on the market now. If you are short on space outside, you can get a slimline tank or you can even get an underground tank. Don't be concerned about using all your outdoor space up, there are options! This is something we would like to work more on in in the future. It would be wonderful to collect rainwater from our greenhouse roof, barn roof, and house roof. That would make a huge difference!
Choose the Right Vegetable Varieties
When planning and starting your garden, it’s important to consider how much water different vegetables need. Some vegetables need a lot of water while others can survive with very little. When you are picking out your seeds or plants look for varieties that are drought tolerant. This will be stated in the description. Make sure to do your research and find the best drought resistant plants when planning your garden because it makes a big difference.
Beans, eggplants, peppers and sweet potatoes generally do fine with less water. Even vegetables that aren't normally drought tolerant may have certain varieties that do fine with less water. Grouping plants with the same water requirements together will also make watering more efficient.
When to Water
Often, when you water your plants on a hot day, most of the water evaporates in a matter of hours. It’s a good idea to avoid watering in the middle of the day when it’s very hot, so the water is less likely to evaporate. If possible, the best time to water is in the morning. It's not the hottest part of the day so les evaporation and the leaves of your plants have time to dry which helps prevent fungus and molds.
Not all of us are able to water early in the morning but there are options to help us accomplish this. Smart irrigation systems are such a great way to manage your water use. You can control them from your phone and water your plants at the touch of a button, and the best ones on the market even connect to the internet and read weather forecasts, so they automatically know when they should and shouldn’t water your garden. You will get better results because the plants are watered perfectly, and it will cut the amount of water that you use in the garden. This sounds like a dream to me! Not only does this save water but it also saves so much time!
You should also use mulch to form a protective layer on the top of the soil, so the water soaks in and slows evaporation. Mulch also keeps soil borne pathogens off your plants from splashing keeping your plants healthy. Once you start using mulch you will be amazed at what a difference it makes. This is a simple step that anyone can do for very little money or for free.
Great options for mulch are grass clippings, leaves, straw, healthy plant clippings, I even use weeds as I pick them as long as they haven't gone to seed. Mulch also helps reduce moisture loss caused by the wind and adds organic matter to the soil as it breaks down. Here in ND it is said that we are only two when storm away from a drought. Mulch has really helped us through many drought years.
Soaker hoses are one of the most efficient ways to water. They keep all the water at the base of the plant which, like I discussed above, helps prevent disease. Water is released at a slower rate allowing all of it to soak into the soil instead of running off. Because the water is not being sprayed through the air there is very little evaporation. Add mulch on top of your soaker hoses and you almost eliminate evaporation completely and also extends the life of your soaker hose by protecting it from the sun.
If you have a well and the water seems to be sandy, you may find that sand collects in the soakers hose. Remove the cap on the end and then run the water to flush the hose out.
To simplify watering even further, hook your soaker hose up to a timer. Never again will you over water because you forgot and left the hose on too long. The timer will automatically shut off the water after the set time. You may be thinking that this is an expensive addition but they are actually quite affordable starting around $20.
Other Favorite Watering Supplies
I have tried many hoses over the years. Hoses with lifetime warranties (ha, that was a joke), expensive hoses, not so expensive hoses. The Water Right hoses are my all time favorite! I have never had to replace any of them. None! They truly are high quality. You can choose from several different colors. At the end of everyone of those Water Right hoses is a Dramm watering wand. If something does happen to the head, maybe it gets clogged (common with well water), you can easily unscrew it to clean or even replace it without buying an entire new wand. Nothing in this post is sponsored this are just my favorite watering tools!
Some of these steps are easier to implement than others but any one of them will make a great difference. Now just think about the difference it would make if you could combine several. Do what you can now and set goals to work toward the more involved water saving steps in the future.
Do you use any of these methods? Do you do something else that I didn't mention? Share your ideas in the comment section below.
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Hello, I'm Jaci. I look forward to sharing my gardening and homestead adventures to help you reach your gardening goals! If you have any questions then don't be shy, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a message and I will be glad to help!