Being sustainable can be simpler than you think. Check out this list of ways to save water to help the environment and yourself!
1. Water in the early morning or evenings, not during the heat of the day so you don’t lose moisture through evaporation.
2. Whatever kind of irrigation system you use, be sure that it delivers water only where it needs to go and stays there. Runoff wastes water.
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3. Do not waste water on weeds, which rob water from plants that need it.
4. Bare ground encourages evaporation. Apply mulch around plants for all the reasons mentioned in Gil Lackey’s article in this issue.
5. Growing plants as close together as possible creates a shady area under them, which reduces evaporation.
6. Adjust the amount of water delivered based upon the evapotranspiration (ET) rate, relative humidity, the way your crops look and the local weather forecast. (Visit usgs.gov—The Water Cycle – USGS Water Science School.)
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7. Don’t guess how dry your soil is by looking at its surface. You can buy inexpensive soil moisture sensors or grab a shovel and dig down about 2 feet and see how much moisture is there. If the soil there is still damp, you can hold off giving plants a drink.
8. When designing an irrigation system and buying parts, avoid the big box stores and pick the brains of the people whose clients are serious farmers.
9. Be flexible. Depending on your water supply, you may need to change what you are growing and your plant spacing, and/or concentrate on what is most important for you to grow.
10. The healthier a plant, the more drought-resistant it is. Build up your soil with organic matter to improve its ability to retain moisture and maintain a balanced supply of nutrients.
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This article was originally published in The NEW PIONEER™ Fall 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.