HOW TO COPE WITH BIG DRY

The Hastings Mail - - WHAT’S ON -

If you live in South­land, or any other re­gion that’s been as dry as a bone for far longer than usual, you’ll have been watch­ing the skies and hop­ing for rain! I didn’t know how long the gar­dens and or­chards here could sur­vive the arid con­di­tions we were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing be­fore the weather fi­nally turned cooler and it rained.

I hoped ev­ery­thing was resilient and that the time I’ve put into build­ing a water-re­ten­tive soil with lots of hu­mus would pay off. Wa­ter­ing from the mains or tanks of stored rain­wa­ter was an emer­gency mea­sure, I be­lieved – mois­ture cap­tured in the soil by the or­ganic mat­ter con­tained therein should be all that’s re­quired, but when it came to newly planted trees and shrubs, I’d taken out in­surance by wa­ter­ing deeply when­ever I could. That meant care­ful use of stored water for us here, and so I chose the evening to give drinks to my young plants and hoped that a night of re­lief from the sun would give them time to drink deeply and re­plen­ish their wilted leaves be­fore the sun rose again in the morn­ing. It was no good mulching dur­ing the drought – that would do would be to stop any rain that might fall from get­ting to the roots where it was needed. Mulch should al­ways be ap­plied to well-wet­ted soil.

Some of my larger-leaved plants, the gun­nera (pic­tured) or Chilean rhubarb, for ex­am­ple, seemed to ben­e­fit from hav­ing any des­ic­cated leaves re­moved, leav­ing the still­green ones to keep the plant go­ing, but I’m not sure if that’s the case.

Of course it all be­came moot when the sev­eral days’ worth of rain ar­rived and re­vived the gar­den and filled the tanks but it was a les­son worth hav­ing and shar­ing, be­cause as sure as eggs, we’ll have an­other drought and that might be next year and for a longer time, who knows?

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