Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What to do When Everything is Dying

This eco-hero needs your help! As some of you know I live in Oklahoma. Well, we are in our worst drought since 1921 and are having record breaking heat. We have already had around 20 100-100+ days and normally we have ten all year, at this rate many believe we will be the state record of 50 in a year. One town was only three degrees from the state record high of 120 just a few days ago. So needless to say our state is burning, literately.

Cracks in my dead yard.

I don't have a veggie garden, which I'm very happy about this year as farmers are being hit so hard in our state. After they already got hit very hard with our record breaking winter. So what I need your help with is my flowers. I'm fine with my yard dying but I want to keep our young trees alive and our plants. I have a few annuals and I'm just letting them die but I also have a lot of perennials, some of which I've had for years and I would like to save them. Even my drought resistant plants are looking sad.

I have been using as much grey water as possible but I'm having to water everyday but the plants are still dying. I water late at night and I'm having to increase to not only the daily watering but a heavy watering once a week. The problem is the heat is so bad the plants are burning. Is there anyway to help save them without crazy amounts of watering? I know with tomato plants farmers are having to water pretty much all day long to save the plants, I don't want to do that.

So can you help me save my plants? Any great tips to keep them from burning and how to water more efficiently? Maybe also tips on more ways to get grey water? I currently use the water from my dishwasher, any glasses people leave out, and my showers.


Heather said...

I've never had to do this myself, but I've heard of people shading their plants. Like, putting up some shade-cloth like a kind of roof over them. Does that sound do-able? It might help with the burning, as that's presumably from too much actual sun. I know that when I had succulents in pots going that red colour I put them on our porch (which has a roof but no sides) and they came right eventually. That's obviously not an option with your plants in the ground, but maybe shadecloth of some kind would provide a similar effect?

farmgal said...

I agree with Heather, I would work on getting shdae set up for those plants, I would mulch hard and deep, around them, and I would set up composting pots with at least half peat moss if you use it, and if not, lots of straw in the composting pots around the edges or if possable between the plants to create area's that will hold that water into the soil.

If you don't know what I mean about the composting pots is very simple, you dig a hole at least a foot or two deep and at least a foot or more wide, and you fill the bottom 3/4 hole with your composting materials, stick a PCV pipe into the pile, cover with your soil and let it rot out, as required add water though the pipe, (normally in my area, I only put the pipes in if its a big pit)

Make sure your peat moss or straw is good an wet and full of water, and it will act as a wick for the root to pull from for the plants next to it, as well as provide a boost for their growth normally, I don't think growth is really going to happen here but it cuts watering down alot normally for me.

Green Bean said...

I agree with the comment on Facebook and farmgirl to MULCH like crazy. Straw, leaves, wood chips, and whatever you can get. I also agree with putting up shade-cloth or pop up canopies. You may want to put in shade trees in the fall to prepare for upcoming years of similar temperatures.

In the book Gaia's Garden, the author visits a garden in Arizona or New Mexico that is transformed by how the owner's plant. Plants need less water as the shade trees grow, etc. You might want to check that out as well.

Finally, investigate drought tolerant landscaping and consider permeable landscaping that does not include plants. Check out what folks in Australia have done as they had a horrible drought lasting for years.

Good luck!

Green Bean said...

Oh, one more thing, water the soil and not the leaves. I didn't catch if you have irrigation installed but if you don't or can change it, drip and microsprinklers are the way to go.

knutty knitter said...

Use stones as mulch too, they will catch the moisture as it evaporates and keep roots underneath cooler. I have used light coloured stones, bricks bits of old concrete etc and they all help greatly. (just watch with old concrete that the plant doesn't mind lime)

viv in nz

Helena said...

I agree with trying to shade the plants somehow--and if any are in containers, maybe bring them in to a porch if you've got one, to get them out of the worst of it.

Do you have rainbarrels set up? I know that doesn't help right this moment, in the middle of the drought, but when you do get rain, capturing and storing the water is just that much less you have to use from your hose.

Best of luck!

DiElla said...

I also live in Oklahoma and am veggie gardening. I am really having a hard time this year also. My plants that are doing best get shade about half the day. They usually don"t like that much shade but this year its the only thing keeping them alive. I have layers of mulch, news paper, straw, leaves, grass clippings, anything I can add. And water, water, water. Still its not going to be a great year, even my pepper plants that like heat are doing very little. But I'm a gardner, ever hopeful.

Lisa Sharp said...

Heather: I have thought about that and may have to soon to save some plants. It will look terrible and I can't really do that with the rose bushes but we will have to see. The one issue will be the wind, it's SUPER windy here almost everyday so it will be hard to find something that will stay put. Now I'm wishing the plants could be moved.

Farmgal: I have a lot of mulch on some, I redid the beds this spring as it was just starting to get really hot and put in cardboard, more soil and some mulch, I may get some more because like I said it's windy and it keeps blowing away haha.

I don't do PVC as it has lead in it and I avoid plastic. I do try and water the roots as much as I can.

I may do some straw but I avoid peat moss because of the environmental factor. I'm wondering if I can find any though because after our bad winter, late frost and now terrible summer crops of all sorts are failing around here.

Green Bean: A shade tree won't work because the plants are close to the house or over a water line. Also nothing major is going to be done here since it's my in-laws home and we won't be here for a long time. I did pick drought resistant plants that have done great in the past with very little water even in our dry summer months but this year is record breaking, a friend posted a picture on FB today of her dying cactus, that's how bad it is.

We do plan to do some grassless kind of landscaping when we buy a house though. And we may be grassless here next year since our yard is turning to dust. We are seeing the early signs of dust storms around here and I'm in the hilly green part of Oklahoma.

Knutty Knitter: Some of the plants have stones as part of the mulch, and they are doing better than the others but I think that's because they are in the shade most of the day. That's were my rose bush is though so I may need to look into more mulch in that area.

Helena: I have a rain barrel but it's not able to be attached to the gutters as they are rusting and falling apart. I use it to store up gray water. It has a bit still in there from the spring but now it all goes straight to the plants. The state has had on average Average rainfall total for June was 1.17 inches in the state. Which is more than 3 inches below normal and the fourth driest June on record dating back to 1895. So wouldn't have much more water in there if I had it hooked up. I don't think we have had more than a sprinkle so far this month. Some of the state got rain today but not us.

DiElla: I feel so terrible for all the farmers! It's be one thing after another for us this year! I hope you can get some produce from your garden. Oh and a shameless plug, since you are an Okie you should check out the site I run called Green Oklahoma. www.greenokla.com

If anyone has a good shade idea that will stay in the wind let me know.


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