The art of watering the vegetable garden (especially in times of drought) – Italian Cuisine

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Savings, mulching, rainwater, intelligent irrigation: these are just some of the key terms for saving water in our garden, especially in times of drought. Watering is in fact an art, just as it is an art to know the vegetables that need a greater water supply, the most efficient irrigation systems and many other small, big tricks to water our beloved garden. Here is what they are.

They range from the most practical tips, such as keeping the watering can always close to the ground or giving water to our garden only at certain times, to more specific advice regarding existing irrigation systems. In all cases always remember that the first threat to the green thumb, whether it is a vegetable garden or simply a plant, it is to give too much water (even more than giving too little).

177640At this point the first rule, which may seem trivial, is to avoid planting vegetables that are too thirsty. Yes therefore a sage, rosemary, peas, some varieties of tomatoes and in general small plants, such as lettuce or basil. While in arid places it is definitely not recommended to grow watermelons, melons, pumpkins or cucumbers, notoriously hungry for water. Also there soil quality it is important: a well-worked soil allows the roots of vegetables to grow stronger and more branched, able to absorb every drop of water. It is important to work and ventilate the soil well before sowing, so that it is soft. We can continue to move it with our hands from time to time (paying more attention!) Even after the plants are born.

177631The second rule concerns how and when to water: it is recommended to do it only when you really need it (checking the ground) and it should always be done in the morning and / or at sunset. Meanwhile it is important to direct the water well, avoiding to distribute it unnecessarily. And then it is recommended to opt for a thrifty system, such as drip systems, which require water to arrive directly on the ground.

177643Indicated is also underground irrigation, which provides that the water flows in pipes arranged between the vegetables and penetrates into the soil thanks to small holes. Absolutely non-saving irrigation systems should be avoided. Also when using the watering can it is also good to keep it as close to the ground as possible, to disperse less water. Always remember how precious rainwater is and try to collect it and convey it.

177637One of the secrets to combat drought is in the so-called mulching, word not known to all and litmus paper to identify the true garden experts. That is the spreading of mulch (layer of material of various nature generally consisting of dried leaves, pine bark and various foliage) on the ground to protect crops from excessive insolation. Mulching is in fact an operation carried out in agriculture and gardening which consists of covering the ground with a layer of material, however keep the humidity in the soil, protecting the soil from erosion and the action of heavy rain, maintaining the structure and raising the soil temperature. It is an excellent system to retain soil moisture and can be made using different materials. Better to opt for the organic materials (gravel, bark, sawdust, pine needles), but you can also use plastic sheeting or cardboard.

Know the right soil and plants. Fundamental is then to know which plants grow in a given area and which have obvious difficulties in resisting, respecting the environmental context in which the plants grow and avoiding waste of resources and energy stubbornly making some plants grow at all costs wrong habitat. There is also a small consideration on the level of sun exposure of the green area: in this regard it is good to ask an expert for advice on the types of plants that are easier to grow than the need for light, the time of year and the temperature of the area where you live.

Emanuela Di Pasqua,
July 2017
updated August 2019

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