Square up a water-wise veggie garden
May 26, 2013
With the warming of daytime temps and the soil, we get closer each day to planting those warm season veggies most gardeners love — peas, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and more.
Yet the drought still looms. This year, in particular, we need to find ways to be even more water wise with the most sustainable of all gardening ventures — the edibles.
Gardeners: try a "waffle garden."
No, it's not a group of grains for growing your own waffle ingredients. It's a technique developed by the Native American Zuni tribe in New Mexico.
The "waffle" is a pattern of squares much like the waffle you eat. The depressions for syrup, in the ground variety, hold water. Here's how it works: Instead of planting veggies in long rows, plant seeds and starter plants of the same kind within squares that are dug out to be slightly lower than the rest of the garden.
Within each square, lower the soil about 1-2 inches and then rim the edge of the square with a mound of soil about 3-4 inches high. This technique essentially creates a square saucer that holds water and prevents run-off after watering. Try visualizing syrup in a waffle.
Waffle gardening also makes plants slightly denser than row planting. This tighter form of planting shades the soil which helps hold in moisture. The shade also helps deter weeds.
Other tips for a water-wise edible garden:
• After planting, apply mulch around the bases of plants. Wood mulch or even grass clippings from mowing the lawn are good mulches.
• Use drip irrigation. It is the most efficient method of watering all plants other than lawns. It is also gardener friendly because you can simply schedule automatic watering via the irrigation system's timer.
What to plant
Once the danger of frost has past, get warm season crops in the ground. This year, de-emphasize the more ornamental plants, like pumpkins, and plant more serious edibles such as:
Beans and peas
Berries, such as raspberries and strawberries
There's nothing more local than the produce you serve just minutes from being picked in your own back yard. Growing edibles is a sustainable use of resources when we use water wisely.
Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is also a member. You can contact them at 970-468-0340.