by Texas Homesteader ~
Planting and harvesting from our vegetable garden each year is important to me. You too? Come see how our garden is faring in these hot, dry summer months.
Garden Planting Problems
Well, where to start?? This year my garden has struggled.
A family illness distracted me from planting my Indoor Greenhouse as I usually do in the late winter months. So I had to plant seeds directly in the garden this year.
Is planting directly in the garden after the last frost a late start? Yes indeed. But late start or not – I just have to have my garden!
Then after the garden was planted, spring skipped us. I mean ALL of it. We got none of the storms typical in our NE Texas spring season. Of course we could do without the storms for sure, but we got no rain either.
Then the heat & humidity of our summers hit – again with no rain.
Temps this week have been setting records, and are over 100 degrees every day. Even up to 109! And there’s no rain in sight in the extended forecast.
Keeping The Garden Watered During Drought
We’ve slipped into another severe drought. With this kind of heat & no rain I’m trying to make adjustments to try to squeak my garden by.
Heavily mulch around plants to conserve moisture & moderate soil temperatures.
Incorporate Living Mulch where possible.
Deep-soak watering during morning hours
Water conservation steps to save water
There are various ways I Keep The Garden Watered During Drought. I’m pulling all the tricks out of my hat to try to keep the garden alive.
But it’s not just hot & dry days taking aim at my garden this year…
Why Grasshoppers Are More Numerous During Drought
Oftentimes we struggle with significantly increased grasshopper damage when we’re going through a drought.
Master Naturalists have explained to me that spring rains often wash away many of those pesky grasshopper eggs.
But without the spring rains, ALL those grasshopper eggs hatch instead! And the hordes have certainly descended upon us.
I’m aided somewhat by allowing our chickens to free range during the afternoons. They go after the grasshoppers like crazy.
Not only does that help my garden, but it lowers my chicken’s feed bill since they’re ‘hunting’ some of their food for themselves. Plus it’s a healthier diet for the hens and gives them plenty of protein to produce healthier eggs.
Focus Water On Garden Survivors
Since we’re not getting rain, I’m trying to focus watering only on a few things in the garden.
I still have a small amount of captured rainwater in the Underground Cistern to keep some of the plants irrigated. But when the cistern runs dry it’s my cue to give up on the garden.
As anyone who’s ever gone through a drought knows, you can’t pour enough water on a plant during those times. The parched ground wicks it away as soon as it’s received!
To make the cistern water last longer I’m watering every other day and only focused on the tomatoes, peppers, cantaloupe, herbs and my Concord grapevine.
Keeping Potted Plants Watered During Drought
After I water the garden it’s time to water my potted plants too. I’m using this Homestead Hack at the base of my potted plants to keep a slow drip of water going to them.
It’s the same premise as the coffee canister method in my garden. Water slowly drips and waters right at the plant’s roots. Less water wasted, more water properly delivered.
So far for the potted plants – although they’re struggling, at least they’re still alive. Time will tell. We’re praying for rain!
What I’m Harvesting In My Garden During Drought
Even with the doom & glooms, there are some gardening bright spots. I have a surviving cantaloupe vine that’s actually provided me with a couple of sweet, juicy cantaloupes to enjoy.
Those may be the only ones I get from it, but the vine is also helping to cover the soil as long as I can keep it alive. I’m using that plant as Living Mulch.
I’ve harvested a few small tomatoes too. But when it’s this hot & dry it’s hard to get the plants to set fruit. Same thing with the peppers.
My herbs planted in my Edible Landscape are doing reasonably well and I’m able to harvest them occasionally. And my stevia is still growing well too.
So I’m still Harvesting & Drying Stevia to use for the rest of the year. I love growing my own sugar-free sweetener!
How Long Will My Garden Survive In Drought?
As much as I hate being a Debbie Downer, unless we get rain soon my garden will be done for the year.
I may attempt to plant a fall garden, but with my severe ragweed allergies that’s always hit & miss too since there’s no way I can keep it watered.
If Mother Nature keeps it watered for me during ragweed season I can have a successful fall garden. But so far she’s not been doing a very good job of that this year so…
How’s Your Garden Doing This Summer?
Hopefully your garden’s doing better. What’s growing in your area and what are you harvesting? Maybe I can live vicariously through your garden instead!
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- The Lazy Gardener’s Plant List – Plant Once, Eat For Years!
- How To Tell When Watermelon Is Ripe
- Luffa A Surprising Zucchini Substitute!
- How To Make Your Own Garden Soil
- Easy Homemade Seed Tape
MORE Gardening Posts
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Global Warming – OMG!!!
I didn’t do much for vegetables this year. It might have something to do with getting old and, the grieving process. Flowers are doing pretty well but the weeds are doing VERY well. Neighbor, Paul, is currently here turning the already mowed grass hay in our field. It sure kicks up a lot of dust, thankfully the prevailing breeze is moving it away from the house. Vultures are having a hay day looking for dead rodents in the windrows.
It’s been unseasonably dry here in western Oregon and that’s a worry on several levels – again glad to see the hay cut!
Take good care of yourself!!!
(BIG hugs to you Candace) I feel the grieving process is much of what’s keeping my garden in such a state this year – mom got sick and then recently passed, her funeral was this past weekend. Now that the garden’s struggling so, I’m not sure I have the strength to even try to pull it out. But I’ll focus on the few things that still have some kick in them and maybe I can squeak them through to the fall. I’d really like to think I could get a fall garden going this year, as I feel it may be a healing thing? Take care of yourself, sweet girl. ~TxH~
Sorry to hear about your plague of grasshoppers. Curiously in my part of the county I’ve only encountered a handful. My wife’s co-worker in Sulfur Springs had her garden decimated. My okra, sweet potatoes, and Malabar spinach are still going strong. Peppers doing ok, however this week I put up an EZ up tent over them. I’ve never tried a fall garden but this year I am going to try. I do get up at 5:30 every day to have my coffee and go water before the heat of the day. Of course some days I water twice. Regards.
I’m struggling to keep enough water on them Ken, although my coffee-can method really does focus the precious resource directly to the roots. Praying for rain! (and an end to the blasted grasshoppers!) ~TxH~
Sounds just like our garden, also here in north Texas. So many in DFW and surrounding areas were thrilled with the rains that moved through midweek, but we didn’t get a single drop. I’ve already pulled plants that were too stressed to recover, leaving tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, a few melon, and one tromboncino squash. But even they are stressed, and may get pulled. The only things thriving are the basil and sweet potatoes.
Despite my ragweed allergies, I’ll be planting a fall garden. It is usually pretty bad for about 3 weeks in Sept/Oct then manageable until frost. I just didn’t get as much from the spring-summer garden as hoped and really want to try again. Of course, without some rain, it may not happen.
Praying daily for rain. Lots of rain.
I’m in exactly that position Kathleen, considering putting some of the more struggling plants out of their misery. Yet at the same time hopeful that I can pull some things through. Fingers crossed for all of us to get some rain soon! ~TxH~