Dealing With Drought in the Garden
How dry we are! It’s just the worst – our sliver of the Maine coast has had less than a half inch of rain in the last 5 weeks and we have only a shallow well, barely enough for dishes and showers. I’m watering the joint with my tears, and when friends complain they’ve been stuck dragging hoses around for eversolong, it’s hard for me to dredge up much sympathy.
Some crops are going to be all right, and there’s still plenty going on – Lois had no trouble finding something to paint the other day
but if you look a little closer you see that those gone-by foxgloves ( which shouldn’t be gone by just yet) never made the usual 6 feet, that those last iris are curled at the edges, and of course that Lo had to install an umbrella to shield herself from the broiling sun.
In California, yes. In Maine, supposedly no. But we’ve had more and more summers lately that seem more like the left coast than this one; our vaunted resemblance to England appears to be a thing of the past. (So does England’s, of course, but let’s not talk about that.)
Let’s not talk about the delphiniums, either, except to say that hot, thirsty plants have trouble withstanding the 40 mile an hour winds that breeze through promising thunderstorms and leave, their only contribution to dry things out a bit more.
On the good side:
* Mulch really does help –where we put heaps there is still some moisture (admittedly not lots) in the root zone. But it looks like deep mulch can insulate the soil from light rain as well as from drying heat. The well mulched tomatoes and peas in troughs of bare soil about 6 inches wide are doing better than the lettuces and chard – also planted in water-catching depressions – that are tucked in tight.
* When perennials start drooping, letting the annuals go doesn’t take lots of will power. The tiny bit of water we can spare is preserving roses, not cosmos.
* The more you deadhead, the less work the plants must do, so when dragging the hose around is out, it’s a relief to use the worry energy preventing seed formation.
*Everything they say about silver-leafed plants being drought-resistant is true
The lychnis and artemisia are vigorously self-sowing and self-spreading respectively, but given the sandiness of our soil and the paucity of our precipitation it seems ungrateful to complain.
It’s not clear whether the purple eucomis will ever bloom, but it looks nice with the Salvia argentea, which also looks nice because it’s in its first year ( the second year it puts up flower stalks, after which it looks ratty until the next spring).