How to tend to your garden during a water-starved summer

As temperatures soar and water shortage looms large, tips for the Chennaiite on how to maintain the delicate balance between saving water and protecting the plants.

Peak summer is yet to hit Chennai, but the sun is blazing and thanks to the failed winter rains and depleting reservoir levels, residents in many parts of the city have already begun to feel the scarcity of water.

For those, who have their gardens and plants to look after, the act of balancing water conservation with plant management is a tricky challenge. Here are a few tips that may see you through the season:

1. Plan growing varieties based on seasons and climates. That way we can cut down on the varieties that demand a lot of water.

2. Use water from your cooking. This is a good way to recycle the existing water.

3. Keep a watch and try to sprinkle water on the plants. Its just like we humans sprinkling water on our face when it is tooooo hot.

4. If possible reduce the sun exposure. It is good to keep the plants facing the eastern sun.

5. Make a canopy with a used saree or dhoti. Sprinkling water on the canopy will reduce the temperature below it. This again reduces the need for watering the plants regularly.

6. Have a height based system. The taller sturdy ones can form a shadow for the smaller ones near it.

7. Try to keep the plants away from walls or metal fencing. There is a lot of heat radiating from these.

8. Make small holes in the pots and give aeration to the plants. This will take the water deeper down instead of it evaporating fully.

9. Make sure the soil is moist: not too wet and slushy, nor too dry and compact.

10. Keep the plants closer to water bodies. The chill effect can help.

11. To ensure the above (Point 10), keep small containers filled with water in your garden. This way it can help the plants and also feed the birds.

12. Avoid applying anything that has a lot of spice.

13. Use mini sprinklers if possible. It can reduce water usage and can also be a regular shower.

14. It is important, and I repeat – very important, to use a lot of dried leaves (nothing green) to retain water in your soil.

Finally, always keep watching the soil and talk to your plants!

(The article has been adapted, with permission, from an original Facebook post by the author)

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