We had ferocious heat and a devastating drought this year across most of the country.
The garden I had hoped would feed my family got baked. That's the only way to put it! Blossoms shriveled up and fell off, seedlings I watered and kept watch on withered and died or were so stunted by the heat and sandstorms (a delightful side benefit of desert living --yeah, sarcasm there) that they never produced.
BUT...now it is time to get my Fall garden in the ground and going!
I WAS going to try using the raised bed boxes I tried growing my Spring/Summer garden in. However, long term weather predictions say that we will have continued severe heat until the end of August and drought until the end of October.
I went to a couple of lectures/talks given by local Master Gardeners and went to check out a local community garden run by Master Gardeners to see how they do it. Their gardens had suffered in the heat, too, but not as badly as mine. They actually had veggies!
The big differences iin what they did as opposed to what I did:
Drip Irrigation and Shade Fabric.
LOTS of shade fabric. One MG I spoke to said he had spent several hundred dollars on shade fabric alone this year to protect his garden! I certainly don't have the money for that! So, I looked through what I DO have. I have tarps. And some camo netting stuff the Darlin' Man brought home that looks like it could approximate shade fabric pretty good.
So, tarps and camo netting (actually, that's a misnomer and it's more of a fine screen that net!) to start with.
Moving on...Drip Irrigation.
Some of the gardens I saw had 10 or more drip irrigation hoses snaking through the rows. The gardeners themselves told me that in order to keep up with evaporation and the heat and the sun, they had to run them at 3 to 5 times the pressure they normally do.
I am HUGE on water conservation AND, here in the desert, we have to be as careful with our water as we can. The water bills can get pretty high, too!
So...my strategies will include the following:
Burying 2 liter bottles in the garden at two foot intervals.The bottles will have holes poked into them so water can trickle out. I figure I can fill them once a day and they will seep water into the ground all day and night.
Using *gray water* as much as possible. I can't exactly route it directly to the garden, but I can, for example, use a bucket to empty the tub instead of letting that precious water go down the drain! I have figured out a way to route my washing machine *gray water* to the garden, so that's a plus.
I had plenty of seeds left over from this spring, so I have already started some seedlings. Butternut squash, cabbage, etc.
Although I still have loads of raised bed boxes, I think I will borrow my neighbors tiller and give a try at putting this garden directly in the ground. Maybe put a few things in the boxes.
Seems a shame not to put them to good use!
Remember all these?
I already turned a few of them into shelving for my food storage and am ripping apart a few more for a chicken house project.
I have my fingers crossed that my Fall garden will succeed!