Do you feel guilty when you water your garden? I know you do. We are facing a drought here in the southwest and elsewhere in our country. 

In my opinion, if you are watering a pollinator garden or feeding yourself or your neighbors from your vegetable garden, then there’s nothing to feel guilty about. If you are irrigating a landscape that supports birds, bees, and other creatures, this is a good thing. If you are holding soil moisture and building soil microbial communities, while cooling your yard, this is a good thing. 

Non-native ornamental trees and shrubs are all good. Even a lawn is supporting life, creating less dust in the air, cooling and raising humidity while nurturing a microbiome (so long as you are not pumping it full of herbicide and pesticide.) Ditto for the mental health boost you get from the sights and smells of a lovely flower garden. You should feel more guilt about letting the water run while you brush your teeth or flushing the toilet 10,000 times than you should about watering a garden or lawn that supports life. 

If you plant a bunch of native and drought tolerant plants so you don’t use too much water, this is great. Remember though, even the toughest native or drought tolerant plants need to become established and acclimated to your yard and garden before they become drought tolerant. 

How much should you water your tree, shrub, cactus, etc. etc.? It’s a complex question. I am asked this time and time again. The answer isn’t simple and there is no rule book to follow. 

My answer is to ask yourself the following questions: What is our soil like? Is it clay and heavy? Is it sandy or rocky? What kind of plant is it? Where is the garden located? Is it in the ground or raised bed? Is it mulched or bare soil? 

Clay soil will need less watering as clay holds onto a lot of water. Sandy or rocky soils drain rapidly and require watering more often. Desert plants require water less often (once established) than other species. Gardens in full sun need more than those in semi-shaded locations. Raised beds may need more or less, depending on what type of soil was used to fill them or where in the yard they are located. Plants without mulch definitely need more water (so, mulch everything!). Plant your vegetable and flower garden with the onset of the monsoon, then you will not have to water as much. 

What to plant in June and July: Everything but cool weather crops. Stay away from lettuces, spinach, and other greens until September when the nights cool down. As an alternative to spinach, consider trying Malabar spinach. Malabar spinach is a vining spinach-like vegetable and thrives with heat and humidity. 

Plant things in succession every two weeks. Reseed beans and summer squash in this way to keep a fresh crop coming in without feeling overwhelmed. Sprinkle zinnia, tithonia, marigold and cosmos seeds out just before the rains come for an explosion of blooms by the end of July. 

Kevin and I want to thank everyone who has come over to our new little Patagonia Plants Nursery. It’s been fun and the fun is just beginning! I wish everyone a successful