|Image: Gibby's Garden|
When there is no rain in sight for days at a time and the humidity rises a few notches, it tends to leave garden soil hard and dry - neither of which are good for plants. Dry weather stunts plants and if it gets really bad, kills them off. To help coax your garden through dry weather - water, mulch and cultivate.
Yes, I’m well aware that I’m stating the obvious here. Truth be told, I never water my gardens, even when they are dry, simply because none of them are anywhere near a hose so I don’t have that option. If you are going to drag out the hose or set up the sprinkler, make sure not to over water (no puddling), do not drag the hose across any plants and water in early mornings to prevent disease and fungus.
That’s right - mulch. You may think covering the ground near or around your plants with a material that prevents weeds may inhibit water from penetrating the soil, but it doesn’t. A fine layer of mulch helps keep garden soil moist, because it keeps water from evaporating, especially in hot, dry weather.
The rule of thumb for mulching is to leave a 3-4 inch diameter around seedlings and rows of seeds that have recently been sown. Wait until plants have had some time to grow and anchor themselves with their roots before pushing the mulch to within an inch or two of plants.
Another great way to keep gardens growing healthy and strong during dry weather is to cultivate the soil around plants. Be gentle making sure not to disturb the plant’s roots, especially the roots of young plants. I use a hand cultivator to loosen the soil, especially when the soil is dry. This helps let in moisture and gives oxygen a chance to circulate.
How has the weather been in your area this gardening season? Mine has gone from sopping wet to dry and back again.