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Dealing with drought conditions

July 26, 2012
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

I recently heard a farmer tell a reporter that was asking him how he was managing during the drought: he said, "Each day we are closer to rain and this is how I make it another day." I keep thinking about that great statement and keep it running through my mind as I stretch out the hose, yet one more day to water plants in my yard. I wish I had a bigger hose to use on my farming husband's crops and family/friends' crops, too.

I have been only watering for a short few weeks since we had taken all of that time to mulch the garden this spring just so I wouldn't need to weed so much. Little did I know then, how much all of that mulch would also keep my plants going strong during all of the heat and lack of rain that we are now suffering through.

I get up pretty early as it is to water and weed my gardens and even then it has been too hot to do some things that I should be doing. There are trees in our area that are beginning to show signs of drought stress,but at least we are not like some other areas where their trees are now gone.

Watering has been necessary in order to keep some of our plants growing. They are at a standstill just like many of our trees; our tomatoes, green beans, peppers and potatoes basically just sit there, patiently waiting.

If your tomatoes are not turning green or your green peppers are falling off of the plant or are flowering but not producing fruit, it is from the heat and lack of rain.

Potatoes have been drying up for some people but this may not necessarily be from the heat and lack of rain. If you planted early, then your potato plants may be done early. We are tempted to just leave them in the soil and harvest them this fall, just like we would normally do. However, in some cases, some gardeners are digging their potatoes up to find that after they watered the garden heavily or managed to get some rain, that their potatoes have started to sprout once again. It might be well advised to just start to dig them up and start to use them or work on canning them for the winter months.

You may find that doing some extra mulching in your vegetable garden and in your perennial garden, and then watering thoroughly, will give your plants a leg up.

The mulch will help to keep the soil cooler and will also help to trap the water. This can be done at any time.

As far as our lawns go and drought, there are sometimes a silver lining to the situation. For example, the creeping Charlie that I have battled in my lawn for a couple of years is not drought-resistant especially since I treated my lawn earlier this spring which weakened the plants.

I now have two large brown spots in my lawn which was going to have to be sprayed with Roundup to get the creeping Charlie out of the lawn. Now, the creeping Charlie is dead and the grass is growing up through it; thus I get to realize a small savings. If you have not been watering your lawn, let your lawn stay dormant at least until we get a good rain of 2 or 3 inches or more. Look at it this way - it has been way too hot to be out mowing lawn anyway.

Since it has been too hot to go out into the garden a lot, now is the time to stop and smell the roses and visit all of the area fairs that will be ongoing in our area in the next few weeks. We have a lot of great gardeners who bring their flowers and garden produce to the fair for show.

If you have some particularly great flower or garden produce, think about bringing it to the fair.

Kids can bring things to open class, too. If we all participate just a little bit, it makes our county fairs just that much more special.

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at



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