Source: Kylee Sherod, University of Minnesota Extension Intern, Wright County
The past few weeks of high temperatures and dry weather have pushed much of Minnesota into a drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that 100 percent of the state is abnormally dry with 55.7 percent of the state being in a moderate drought. Wright County is among the counties remaining abnormally dry.
Due to the drought, cities in Wright County have implemented various water restrictions. Some towns limit water by allowing even or odd number houses to water on their corresponding even or odd date. Others have scheduled water times or a combination of both date and time watering. Additionally, there are towns that have recently banned watering lawns until further notice. For the most recent updates on your town, be sure to stay up to date on your local ordinances by checking your town’s website or social media.
Now, what does the weather and corresponding restrictions mean for you and your garden?
The average vegetable garden needs one inch of rainfall each week to be productive. When it rains, plants absorb nutrients through their roots and transport them throughout the plant. If there is no water, the plants do not receive essential nutrients. This means your garden needs your help. Though many want to get out and save their plants, please remember to follow your local ordinances.
Knowing when to water may be tricky. Even if the top of your soil may be dry, there still may be enough moisture below the soil surface. To determine if you should water, dig down the soil surface about two inches. If it is dry, you should water. Try to water early in the morning and directly to the soil of the plant, rather than through sprinklers. Doing this minimizes evaporation and allows the plant to absorb more water. Drip irrigation is extremely beneficial in this type of weather as it waters directly on the soil and can target specific areas.
Plants require direct water for their roots, not water on their leaves. When plants get water on their leaves, especially in the evening, it can lead to diseases. Low and slow watering is best for plants during this heat.
When in the garden, be sure to manage weeds as they can compete with your plants for water and nutrients. This summer’s heat has encouraged fast weed growth.
Another thing to consider during this heat is how stressed your plants are. Though June may be a good time to begin pruning plants, like tomatoes, it may cause the plants to be even further stressed. It is best to wait for the weather conditions to cool down before you decide to prune. When you prune, make sure to apply water to the base of the plant to reduce the chances of infection.
Remember to take care of yourself when out in the heat by staying hydrated and taking breaks. For more information regarding gardening in drought conditions, please visit extension.umn.edu and search “garden watering.” Wright County residents can call (763) 682-7394 for questions related to yard and garden items.