The long dry season is upon us, with all its attendant sun, heat, and water scarcity problems. We are told the situation will remain this way until sometime in mid-September or early October.
Still, there is no need to panic. And the onset of the dry season always signals its own problems. We like the dry season because with it, you can wash your clothes and confidently leave them on the line to dry as you head off to work. Also, you will be able to leave your home and go whatever it is you want done, as opposed to the rainy season, when sporadic showers force business to a standstill.
The downside to the dry season comes by way of the dust and the heat. With this dust and heat, we tend to feel dehydrated and exhausted. Similarly, the grass and plant cover is fast withering away. Of course, you will need water to get this problem fixed.
Which is why you needed to have devised a simple water harvest strategy before the onset of the drought. Every shed or roof should have been used to help you store up on water for the current mess you most probably are now in.
But all is not lost for those that cherish their green gardens. If you have a lawn or flower garden at home, they would by now have succumbed to the vagaries of extreme heat.
If you have potted plants, it would be prudent to grow them in the bigger pots or vessels as small pots heat up more quickly and have limited water retention. Make sure to arrange the pots closely together as then they will create humidity between them, which means they will need less water.
Time your watering sessions for morning and evening hours, as opposed to the middle of the day, when the water evaporates before seeping down to the roots. It also goes without saying that you should reduce the amount of traffic to and from the lawns.
Another option is to mulch the soil, that is, cover it with compost material. Not only will it enrich the soil’s nutrients, it also improves its water retention capacity. One need not go far and wide looking for compost. In fact, the peelings from your kitchen (bananas, potatoes, cassava, greens) call all be used for soil cover.
Compared to say a vegetable or flower garden, lawns consume relatively more water, but that is only if you insist on having the perfect green cover. Take a more laid-back approach to your lawn and let it look after itself. The fact that your beautiful lawns are starting to go brown on account of the drought should not alarm you. Lawn grasses may stop growing during drought, but they don’t die away all together. Come the next rains, growth kicks in and they bloom up again.
While watering, pay less attention to the established plants; if possible you won’t have to water them at all. This is because the big plants are able to draw on reserves of moisture deep down in the soil.
This is water that has been used in chores around the house, like washing and bathing. The waste water from cooking is especially good, as it contains salts and nutrients vital for plant growth.
However, don’t use water that is contaminated with bleach and other harsh chemicals. Gardening experts usually advise that grey water should not be used on fruit or vegetable crops.
Lastly, you could opt for a roof garden in the most basic sense of the word. If you have the appropriate roof, you could go for a small vegetable patch on your concrete roof, but if this is not possible, simple plant a climbing plant at the base of your house, and let it find its way to the roof. A roof garden guarantees cooler air because the sun’s heat is absorbed before entering the house.