British Columbia

Vegetable gardening during a drought: 5 tips from a pro

Even though stage 1 water restrictions came into effect this weekend, you can still have a healthy vegetable garden, says one gardening expert.

Master gardener shares tips on what to plant, how often to water, and other tips and tricks

Leafy vegetables need more water than drought-resistant vegetables. (Getty Images)

Even though stage 1 water restrictions came into effect this weekend, you can still have a healthy vegetable garden, says one gardening expert. 

Laura Doheny is a master gardener and manager at Hunters Garden Centre in Vancouver and she shared her tips for smart watering on CBC's The Early Edition.

1. Start by taking care of your soil

Doheny said the most important thing you can do for a garden that is suffering from drought is to add mulch — either grass clippings, pine needles or bark mulch. 

"A two to three inch layer of mulch can reduce your watering by up to 50 per cent in drought condition," she said, because by protecting a layer of the soil the water doesn't evaporate as quickly. 

2. Plant drought resistant vegetables

Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and squash don't need as much water, said Doheny. 

If you're looking for something more exotic, quinoa is also a good option.

"You get a very good high yield out of it and it's also drought tolerant," she said. 

3. Plant leafy vegetables earlier 

Doheny advises planting leafy vegetables — like kale and lettuce — early in the season. 

Leafy vegetables require a lot of water but because of the early warm spells those vegetables could be planted as early as late March.

4. Watering frequency and methods

Deep watering for vegetable gardens should take place two to three times a week for five to 10 minutes if done by hand, she said.

Doheny said make sure to water underneath the leaves of the vegetables. 

She also suggests using rain barrels or grey water to water your plants. 

5. Take advantage of clay plots

Clay pots that are half-buried in the soil are a great way to save water, said Doheny. 

"Fill it up with water....and because the clay is porous, the water slowly leaks out through the clay and just keeps the surrounding areas nice and moist."

She also recommends planting in containers, and that way you can move them into the shade to help conserve water.

With files from the CBC's The Early Edition and Samantha Garvey.

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Gardening during a drought: 5 tips from a master gardener


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