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Grow veggies using less water

A hose soaking a section of a vegetable garden
A hose soaking a section of a vegetable gardenErin McClure

Watering is key to a successful vegetable garden in the north Texas region. Certain techniques and materials can reduce the amount of water needed to grow food. Close attention to watering needs and methods can be used to create a cleaner and greener outdoor vegetable garden space.

 

Watering Times

The city of Ft Worth has “time of day water restrictions” in place year round. Residents are allowed to water before 10am and after 6pm. Other recommendations include to avoid watering during the rain, and onto sidewalks, driveways or streets, and to maintain sprinkler systems. Between 40%-60% of water is used for outdoor watering.

 

Watering Techniques

Above Ground Sprinkler Systems & Sprinklers

They are convenient, yet have a couple of drawbacks. Water can be lost to the wind. Also, water directly gets onto foliage of the plants, which can create mold during hot weather, and damage from chemicals in the water. Sprinklers are best used in the mornings, allowing the sun to dry the foliage before it has time to grow mold.

Garden Hoses

Watering by hand is time consuming, yet a great way to be directly involved with the vegetable garden. Just like any above ground method, water is lost through evaporation. Strategically placing the hose on the ground and soaking specific areas, and minimizing spaying is an effecient use of the hose. This method can minimize water that gets onto the foliage. Hoses are commonly made from PVC, and contain brass materials which leech lead into the water. Use of a sustainably made and performing hose is a great way to minimize pollution.

Strategic placement of a sustainable soaker hose is a great way to water slowly and thoroughly.

Garden hoses can be made from food grade materials as well as labeled “Lead Free, Drinking Water Safe, and Phthalate Free.”

For more information about garden hoses see:

Consumer Reports.org, Wise Geek: What is a lead free garden hose.

 

Reduce Watering Needs

Mulching

A thick 2-3” layer of mulch helps to hold moisture in, and protect the roots of plants during extreme highs and lows.

Strategic Planting

Some vegetables can grow successfully, protected from the hot afternoon sun in north Texas. This scenario requires less water, and is less stressful for the plants. Ideal candidates include peppers, lettuces, leafy greens, and herbs such as basil, thyme, parsley, and cilantro.

Tips for Sustainable Watering

  • Water during recommended times
  • Water using sustainable hoses
  • Water more at one time, less often
  • Water only as much as needed

Tips for Fort Worth residents, links to city's website:

Save Fort Worth Water: Irrigation Information, Gardening Tips 

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