Here are some of our top tips to being a responsible water user in your vegetable garden!
Time Your Watering
Proper watering is crucial for maintaining a thriving vegetable garden and knowing when to water is essential to ensure that plants receive adequate moisture without risking overwatering or underwatering.
It is generally best to water vegetable gardens in the early morning, as this allows plants to absorb water before the heat of the day sets in. However, it is important to monitor the soil moisture regularly and adjust watering frequency based on the specific needs of your plants – in the heat of summer you will probably have to water in the evening too, to help your plants recover.
Watering at the right time:
- Minimises evaporation.
- Gives plants ample time to dry off before nightfall.
- Reduces the risk of fungal diseases.
- Ensures that water reaches the plants’ roots.
Mulching is a gardening technique that involves spreading a layer of organic or inorganic material on the soil’s surface – there should be no bare soil visible at all. In the veggie garden we recommend always using an organic mulch, such as straw, grass clippings, compost, wood chips or leaves, as it helps to improve the soil and doesn’t add anything harmful to the soil (and therefore to your food).
This protective covering serves multiple purposes, including:
- Regulating soil temperature.
- Adding organic matter to the garden.
- Suppressing weed growth.
- Conserving moisture.
Grouping plants according to their water use, known as hydrozoning, is a smart and efficient approach in gardening that can help conserve water and it is particularly effective in the edible garden. By strategically arranging your herbs or veggies with similar water requirements (high, moderate, low and very low water usage) together, gardeners can ensure that each group receives the appropriate amount of water without wasting resources.
You don’t have to use litres of water to make your garden beautiful. Here are some smart techniques for responsible water usage.
In The Hydrozone
Hydrozones are a game-changer when it comes to efficient gardening. By grouping plants based on their water requirements, we can tailor our watering practices to meet their specific needs. Whether in garden beds or containers, arranging plants with similar water needs together allows us to provide adequate hydration without wasting resources. For instance, high-water-usage plants can be placed in one hydrozone, while those with low water requirements can form another group.
This arrangement offers numerous benefits:
- Optimises water usage.
- Promotes healthy growth.
- Minimises water stress on plants.
Improve Your Soil
Plant health starts with soil health, and good soil also helps to save water. Prep your soil well before planting by adding organic matter in the form of compost or rotted manure, as well as bone meal or superphosphate for strong roots, and a slow-release organic fertiliser. Vermiculite is also a good option if you need to increase soil’s water-holding capacity.
By doing this you will:
- Create strong roots for more efficient water absorption.
- Reduce water runoff.
- Increase water-holding capacity.
- Grow healthier plants.
Water At The Right Time
We all know that we need to water our gardens, but many of us choose to water at the wrong times. By understanding the best times to water, we can ensure our plants’ wellbeing while minimising water wastage.
It is generally recommended to water gardens in the early morning to allow plants to absorb moisture before the heat of the day sets in. However, it’s essential to monitor soil moisture regularly and adjust watering frequency based on specific plant needs. During hot summer months, additional watering in the evening might be necessary to help your plants recover overnight.
Become the hero of your garden by saving water and protecting your plants during the dry summer ahead. The new climate cycle, El Niño, is predicted to reach us at the start of 2024, which includes heat waves and less rainfall. Luckily Life is a Garden is preparing all green fingers with loads of practical ways you can go about maintaining a lush garden. One of the easiest ways is to begin with Hydrozoning.
Garden jargon check
Hydrozoning is a landscaping technique where plants of similar water requirements are grouped together, grown in the same area. This can be done in beds as well as mixed containers. You may have to do a bit of admin in the beginning, but once you have made the necessary transplants, hydrozoning will save you hours of maintenance time and many litres of water.
Hydrozoning also allows you to keep better track of your watering schedule and it prevents over/underwatering of plants. You can set your irrigation system to only water certain beds as opposed to the full garden that isn't actually at risk of dying soon. For example, a mixed bed with aloes and canna lilies are not the best match as aloes are low water and canna lilies are high. You can see that a bed like this would not be efficient during a drought as the aloes will be receiving unnecessary water.
The key is not to get rid of your beloved canna lilies, for example, but to provide these plants with a bedding bestie that has similar needs. Your Garden Centre will be able to give you great advice on which plants to pair up. If you are unsure about your current bedding companions, post a picture on Life is a Garden’s SA Seasonal Grow Guide group on Facebook and our experts will help you identify the plants and make helpful companion suggestions.
Here’s a quick overview of SANA’s stats accumulated over the past two months. How well do you really know your consumers?
Most-bought seed packets
- Perennials flowers
- Annual flowers
- Trees and shrubs
- Compost and potting soil
- Plant food
- Hoses and fittings
A trendy heads-up
Get your Garden Centres and Home Stores stocked. Here are the gardening trends looking to take root in a fertile bed and container near your consumers!
Sexy small spaces
This trend is all about unique growing styles combined with sassy plants that may be small in size but large in personality. Our significant townhouse/balcony/patio demographic will be looking for something special that expresses their individuality within a limited space.
- Dwarf varieties in mini pots for the patio
- Stylish kitchen windowsill herb farms
- Statement-making vertical walls and hydroponics
Stock list: attractive dwarf hybrids, minimalistic rectangular containers for windowsills and all the herbs, leafy greens and cherry tomatoes for hydrophonic growing, hydro set-ups, and vertical wall containers with charismatic indoor and outdoor plant options.
El Nino-proof gardens
With the predicted dry and hot summer ahead, indigenous landscaping, rainwater harvesting, and wildlife habitat creation is top priority. Our Earth Custodians will be looking for drought-proof plants, inspiration on how to redesign beds for water conservation, as well as ways to support wildlife.
- Indigenous hydrozoning
- Water collection and storing
- Pollinators and friendly critters
Stock list: In-store labels that indicate hydrozone compatibility as well as a large variety of local plants, rainwater tanks and other water harvesting supplies, wildlife houses and plants for pollinators that are grouped together and highlighted in-store.
As temperatures rise, indoor gardening will see an increase in demand for exotic collectables and classic creepers. Consumers will likely be more willing to spend on indoor landscaping owing to water restrictions and heat.