Happy New Year! I started writing this back in January, when temps were in the 70's. Although it was wonderfully unexpected to bask in summer sun at midwinter, the long awaited rains have arrived and couldn't be more welcome. Still, it appears we are in for a very dry year ahead. If so, gardening this year will require some creative planning. With water restrictions possible (our local water district has already implemented them), the size of the garden may depend on how much water you are allowed or can afford to use. Whether you rely on a municipal water system or a well, one thing is for sure: the supply will be limited.
Selecting an appropriate site for the vegetables you want to grow is the first order of business. A spot with full sun is crucial for tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, pole beans, bush beans, basil, and corn. Veggie plants like lettuce, chard, kale, spinach, beets, appreciate partial shade.
Designing a layout for your garden takes some experience and knowledge of the growth habits of plants. For instance; place taller plants in the back to leave room for those that require full sun. As an example, I have perennial evergreens in the rear of my garden. These 6 foot tall shrubs provide a nice backdrop for the 4' tall flowering dahlias that are planted in front of them. In the middle area, I planted 6 blueberry bushes which are only 3'-4' tall. At the front of the garden is an easily accessible 2' wide row of strawberries. Planted throughout are bulbs (iris and allium) and annual flowers (zinnias, African daisy, and Echinacea).
Preparing or amending the soil may be necessary to ensure a successful season. Sandy soil won't hold water or nutrients for long. Adding some bagged compost and sphagnum moss to maintain moisture is a good idea. Clay soil on the other hand is so dense it won't allow roots to easily penetrate or spread out. The solution again is to dig in a good amount of compost and possibly aged manure. If you are fortunate enough to have black, loamy land rich with natural nutrients, amending with a bit of balanced organic ingredients might be the only addition you need. Adding Vital Garden Supply's organic fertilizers and mychorrizal fungi to your soil will increase the nutrient uptake while enhancing the beauty and nutritional value of whatever you are growing.
A carefully planned drip system is the final step to ensure success. To get a good idea of what product s to use, go to dripworks.com and take a look at our Gallery of Plans. Once there, you can select the type of garden or landscape you have in mind and an illustration for a complete drip irrigation system and parts list will appear. For a fast and simple solution, DripWorks also offers complete irrigation kits.