Your child is excited about gardening, and has been in the backyard over the last year (or more) toiling away in the soil with a big smile on his/her face. This warms your heart, but your optimism is cautious as you’re well aware of the fact that summertime droughts are getting worse across Canada. Your protective instincts are kicking in, and you’re wondering if there is a way to prepare your household’s food garden for what climate change has wrought upon our continent. The good news, is that there is. And through this knowledge comes the opportunity to teach your child about truly sustainable gardening practices. Let’s get to it!

4 Practical Tips to Maintaining a Household Food Garden That Can Thrive Through Dry Seasons

Drought Tolerant Vegetables

There are a number of nutritious (and tasty!) food crops that thrive in Canada’s moderate climate, yet are able to weather extended bouts of dry weather. By including them in your family garden you will enjoy a healthy balance of plants that can keep your child engaged with each season. Popular varieties include the following:

  • Corn
  • Lima beans
  • Mustard greens
  • Pole beans
  • Summer squashes
  • Sunflowers
  • Most herbs (rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, oregano, lemon verbena, etc.)
  • Most peppers (bell peppers, etc.)

Add More Mulch

Droughts are accompanied by municipal watering restrictions. To ensure the health of your soil and plants, reduce the required amount of water by up to 50% with a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch made of either grass clippings, pine needles or mulch-bark. Your child will enjoy both gathering the required organic materials and adding them to the base of their garden.

Introduce Rain Barrels 

Even during a drought there can be unexpected bouts of rain. This is especially true of the BC interior and Alberta where thunder and lightening storms can easily interrupt an otherwise sunny run of weather. Be prepared to capture the precipitation that comes with it, even when you’re not home. This can be accomplished by introducing rain barrels in your backyard. The collected rainwater can then be used to maintain the health of your food garden. Not only is this a very effective solution, it is fun for your child. They can decorate and paint the rain barrels so that they blend in perfectly with their colorful backyard and garden space!

Learn more about how to conserve water for garden maintenance during a season of short supply.

Plant Certain Seeds Earlier

This tip shines as an example how we must adapt gardening practices to account for climate change. With seasonal droughts becoming more frequent across the country, we encourage you to plant certain susceptible vegetables earlier than usual. This can be done with those that thrive in cold weather, as again, you will need to plant them earlier than usual, when the temperatures are lower. Leafy green vegetables such as kale and collards are prime candidates. They require a lot of water but have innate ability to grow in cold weather. That means you can start planting them in the late winter, and harvest them prior to drought season. Your child will be especially excited as they won’t have to wait until spring break to get started on your household food garden. View more on how to maintain these cold weather plants in your soon-to-be drought tolerant garden.

We hope you enjoyed our tips to growing a more sustainable garden. View more about our Foundation’s work here, and find out how you can get involved.

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