With Drought and Water Restrictions, My Corn is Thriving

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Some plants do not seem to mind the imposed lack of water, and I was surprised to see some doing quite well. Here is what I have learned from the drought and water restrictions.

I have a lawn, yet I do not wish to be a grass farmer. I have seen a few neighbors let their grass die, and they have no other visual interest in their yard. Watching my yard carefully, I thought that established plants would be doing alright, and my plantings for an early fall crop would suffer. The gardener’s shadow proved me wrong. A gardener’s shadow? Well, it is the best tool that you have in taking care of your garden: your walking around the garden to observe the plants causes a shadow to fall. My shadow held surprises for me that will change what I plant next year.
corn growing in the heat
    When I moved into my home, there was a grouping of azaleas on a north facing wall. These are wonderful flowers, but the plant does not hold much interest for me during the remainder of the year. I use it as a backdrop for other leaf textures and colors. I guess that is why I do not focus on it too much. What I did see was half the plants doing well, while the other half suffered more. It turned out that this had to do with mulching. The mulch plants appeared less stressed. However, the water restrictions lead to even the mulch plants being stressed eventually. I was planning to add azaleas to the garden, but this has changed my mind. The camellias succumbed to the water restrictions as well.
    The roses look stressed, yet they do bloom. The blooms only last for a day. The roses have new growth along with fading leaves. I intend to keep them alive, but I do not want the flowers at this time. I am thinking that I should deadhead them before they bloom to allow the rose to focus on other matters. We will see. The plant that surprised me with several large blooms is a hibiscus. I am growing this one for the flowers to make a tea. The other hibiscus plants have not bloomed, but they look alright. This one was planted this summer. I found it on sale, and I did not think that it would survive. Ample mulching is the key. I do have caladiums for color. Although they love the heat, they deplore the lack of water. These bulbs were given to me as a gift, and I do not think that I will buy any. Another attractive leaf is from the coleus plant. These have done quite well. Even ones planted just before the water restrictions.
    The vegetables have been my biggest surprise. Winter vegetables in the shade continue to do well. This is not the time to harvest them, unless you do not mind the flavor. The corn, beans and squash planted from seed shortly before the water restriction were announced are doing quite well. Also the green onions in a pot that were planted from seed. I only water the pots when I can water the garden, so these are doing better than I thought. I guess this has to relate to the potting soil holding the moisture longer. Pepper plants only obtaining around six hours of sun are growing, while the plants obtaining over six hours are stressed. This maxim holds true for the eggplants too. The jicama, horseradish, ginger, and glanaga plants keep growing. Several herbs are abundant. I think my family may tire of basil.
    The biggest take away for me has been mulch and a healthy soil. The soils with more organic matter, compost, mixed into it composition are doing better. Areas of the garden with heavy compost (more than three inches) have done alright too. The beds that do not have heavy organic mulches, but rather a rock mulch of two inches have done well. My favorite rock mulch is the lava rock, because when it breaks down, the plants benefit from the nutrients.  The other observation is do no try to force plant choices. Non native plants may thrive under these conditions, but I think that I will investigate natives more for next year. I will have to plan out the vegetable beds based on amount of sun during the different times of year, so charting this is not a bad idea. How have you coped with the restrictions?

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at yourhoustonhomeinspector.com). For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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