Surviving the drought
As the drought conditions bite deeper, keep to priorities for water use. Vegetables have the greatest need. Dry conditions can force plants to bolt to seed early (their instinct under stress is to survive by ensuring seed set) and in some cases the produce becomes bitter or woody. Water the soil, not the plant because it is the roots that achieve the best uptake. Watering in the evening reduces how much will evaporate immediately and when you are not watering the foliage, it won’t encourage diseases. If you overhead water by sprinklers, do it early in the morning to give the foliage time to dry.
Most of our common herbs are Mediterranean in origin so are well used to being dry in summer. Don’t waste time and water on them.
Lawns can survive a remarkably long time without water, despite their appearance telling lies. Annuals will bolt to seed early and perennials will pass over more quickly. Trees, shrubs and hedges should all be fine unless they were recently planted from mid spring onwards, in which case you may wish to give them a drink.
Do not mulch your garden now. It will slow down the absorption of water when good, steady rain arrives – which it will at some stage. Mulch can keep water out as well as keeping it in. Just take heed and get a good layer of mulch on at the right time next spring.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.