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Old 02-28-2009, 08:52 PM
 
Location: Texas
8,062 posts, read 16,779,282 times
Reputation: 3710

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About this time, I'd have started my veggie seeds indoors to transplant into the garden in early April. But we're in a BAD drought. There isn't even any moisture in the air -- our humidity is routinely hitting 15 percent -- and it's been really windy. We've only had a half-inch of precipitation since October!

I'm debating whether to do a veggie patch this year. I'd have to water constantly and that might cost me big as I figure we'll be on water restriction. Plus, I don't think veggie plants thrive without at least occasional rain and I'm afraid that with the air so dry, they'd wither even faster.

Do y'all garden during droughts? Are there any veggies (aside from root veggies) that are more resistant than others? I would desperately miss my homegrown tomatoes, lettuce and peppers but I am not in a position to throw a lot of money at what might be a hopeless cause. Advice needed! Thanks!
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Old 02-28-2009, 09:47 PM
 
Location: NOT a native Pittsburgher
323 posts, read 764,864 times
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My grandfather used to keep a plastic barrel to collect rainwater. Also, mulch will help to keep water for plants. But a half-inch of rain is pretty bad.
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Old 03-01-2009, 02:00 AM
 
Location: rain city
2,958 posts, read 11,841,519 times
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Vegetables in general seem to require more care than flowers and shrubs.

One year in Texas I grew sweet corn. It seemed like a good idea at the time?

The stalks grew to be 10 feet tall and required ungodly amounts of water and they took up a ton of garden space. I got one ear of corn per stalk. At the end of the day, each ear probably cost me $10 in labor and water and materials.

The fruit stand up the road was selling corn, ten for a dollar. It cost me a thousand times more to produce one ear of sweet corn as I could buy it for. The quality was virtually the same. I have never grown corn again.

It depends. Because commercial tomatoes are generally of such terrible quality and taste, it's very rewarding to grow your own. I would say it's worth the expense and effort to grow vegetables which are hard to find and labor intensive to grow in your area. Otherwise if the quality is good, leave the expense and growing to the professionals and buy it from them at a discount, and grow at home things you like that you can't otherwise easily find.
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Old 03-01-2009, 02:04 AM
 
Location: Middle Tennessee
210,211 posts, read 80,829,334 times
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In a word investigate mulch...conserve ground water...takes less. black plastic or wheat straw is what I have used hundred of bales of to build up organic matter in the ground...
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Alaska and Texas
202 posts, read 770,813 times
Reputation: 138
Default some success

Quote:
Originally Posted by teatime View Post
About this time, I'd have started my veggie seeds indoors to transplant into the garden in early April. But we're in a BAD drought. There isn't even any moisture in the air -- our humidity is routinely hitting 15 percent -- and it's been really windy. We've only had a half-inch of precipitation since October!

I'm debating whether to do a veggie patch this year. I'd have to water constantly and that might cost me big as I figure we'll be on water restriction. Plus, I don't think veggie plants thrive without at least occasional rain and I'm afraid that with the air so dry, they'd wither even faster.

Do y'all garden during droughts? Are there any veggies (aside from root veggies) that are more resistant than others? I would desperately miss my homegrown tomatoes, lettuce and peppers but I am not in a position to throw a lot of money at what might be a hopeless cause. Advice needed! Thanks!
I'm south of FW and it's the same for me. I made a bunch of 4x8 plastic panels to lean against the side of the house and installed drip lines. The plants love it under the plastic and I've been harvesting spinach, lettuce and green onions for over a week now. Guessing that being under plastic creates humdity, heat and cuts the wind, I ordered a 6x6 Springhouse plastic greenhouse for $162 at Amazon to try out.
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Old 03-01-2009, 11:04 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,178 posts, read 9,892,953 times
Reputation: 9601
Some friends of mine have tried planting in hay or straw bales. They core out a spot for their seedlings, and the bales hold moisture and slowly rot providing slow-release nutrients. I am a big believer in mulch, the more the better. We have just moved from a high-humidity area with clay soil to a VERY dry area with sandy soil, so this year will be a challenge - also we moved from a Zone 9 to a Zone 4. We have been composting horse manure (we rent our pasture, barn, and corral to an old horse), straw, and kitchen compost for almost a year now. I will do like I did when we moved here in May - shovel it up into the big plastic wheelbarrow, add water to make a slurry, and pour it into the holes pre-planting. The combined straw and compost will hold water better, then I will mulch with wood chips (readily available) and straw. Folks last year told me in May that I planted too late for the area, but everything came up with only twice-weekly soaking watering. Of course here they actually take their grass clippings and other compostable items to the dump... I hope to change their perspective once they see what composting and mulching will do; if not, I'll have plenty from their yards as well.

The wind is pretty heavy-duty here too; so plastic mulch kinda bothers me; espeially when chasing it. It is a great idea and does keep the cold out and moisture in, though - if you have enough rocks or boards!

Depending on soil, drip-line watering can work well. However, with the low humidity and sandy soil here, the water just slides right past the plants and wanders away. Top watering helps the plants perk up. We only water in the early AM to prepare the darlins for the daytime heat; nighttime watering promotes fungal growths and heat-of-the-day watering burns them.
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Old 03-01-2009, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Texas
8,062 posts, read 16,779,282 times
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Thanks for all of the suggestions, y'all!!!!

LOL, azoria, I have to laugh because I grew sweet corn last year, too. I got at least two ears per stalk but, yeah, that was a whole lot of water and work for about 25 ears of corn! It was fun to see it grow and I'm glad I did it but I likely won't again.

I read in today's paper that the situation is bleak. The farmers and ranchers are having to cull animals for lack of water and edible grasses. They're saying the soil is bone dry down nearly a foot and they simply can't plant! I guess if the professionals can't plant then my efforts would be disastrous. And, yep, SCGranny, the mulch blows around in our strong winds!

I think I'm going to plant some veggies in containers on the deck. If the drought turns around at some point, I can always transplant them into the ground; if not, I can transplant into bigger containers!
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Old 03-01-2009, 03:33 PM
 
19,710 posts, read 59,640,266 times
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Container gardening may be your best bet. Here is something we did a couple years back.

Get a few of those flexible plastic 20 gal storage bins that are sold in places like WalMart and Lowes. You should be able to find them on sale for $5 or so.

Drill a 1/2" hole on one end about 4" up from the bottom. Cut a hardware cloth section to fit inside the box. Use sections of PVC pipe to hold this about 5" from the bottom. Fold two opposite corners of the hardware cloth to create openings leading to the space below it. In one opening insert a 2' to 3" diameter roll of old newspaper that is at least 12" in length. In the other opening, insert an 18" length of 2" PVC pipe (with the bottom cut at a slight angle). Cover the hardware cloth with two layers of newspapers, roughly sealing off the bottom compartment, then put a bag of potting mix on top and water thoroughly until water comes out the overflow hole.

When you plant in the potting mix, the moisture in the bottom will not only wick up through the newspaper roll, but diffuse upwards through the soil. The high sides protect the seedlings from wind and drying conditions, yet the mature plant can grow over the top and edges. Some insect pests won't be able to get up the sides of the container to get to the plants. You put water or compost tea directly into the 2" PVC pipe until it starts coming out the overflow hole, and then forget the whole thing for a week.

A lot of plants like this type of treatment. Leaf lettuces, Malabar spinach, and tomatoes love it. After a couple of years, the plastic will get brittle and rot, so if you like the idea, you might consider making something more permanent, like a cedar or redwood box that you can line with a replaceable poly liner.
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Old 03-01-2009, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Texas
8,062 posts, read 16,779,282 times
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Great idea, Harry! Two questions -- what's "hardware cloth" and how many plants would you put in a 20-gallon container? I'd probably do one for tomatoes and peppers and one for lettuces.
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Old 03-01-2009, 04:38 PM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
29,154 posts, read 28,185,732 times
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Those home made "self watering" boxes are great and a lot less expensive than than what you'd buy at the store. Last year I made up a couple of similar but smaller and simpler planters using plastic dishpans for growing scallions and radishes.
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