mulching (mentioned) Soil Improvement and/or preparation Watering

Can You Garden if You Can’t Water? — YES!

I’ve done a lot of reading this past year.  I read mainly to find out what everyone else is talking about so I can share something a bit different – or a least shed a different light on an already-talked-about subject.

One of the things I’ve noticed: everyone talking about gardening online waters their garden. And the gist of all conversations is that if you don’t water you can’t have a garden. It seems to be taken for granted that watering is part of it and that you won’t be successful without it.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we started gardening because we wanted to eat.  We didn’t have two nickels to rub together — much less  money to afford drip hoses, a regular hose, or anything else that is associated with watering a garden.

And frankly, I never remember giving a lot of thought to it one way or the other.

In those days there had been a lot written on very successful vegetable gardens in desert areas that get very little rainfall.  The gist of all the articles I read was how to cope with that and be successful in spite of it.

The way to do it will not come as a surprise to you — for you’ve read it many times on this website.

Here’s the way to cope with little rainfall or almost any other garden problem that comes up:

  • Prepare your soil deeply.
  • Make it rich in Organic Matter.
  • And Mulch.

Let’s use onions as an example.

Everyone from home organic gardeners to Dixondale Farms (the biggest onion supplier in the country) talk about how onions need regular watering. An inch a week at least.

I can certainly understand why Dixondale would have to water.  They are conventional commercial growers, not organic. They have bare soil.  And it hasn’t rained in their part of Texas for I don’t know how long.

But I can’t relate at all to these small organic gardeners who go on about watering onions like  surely the crop will fail if those onions don’t get their one inch of water on schedule.

I’m living proof that isn’t true!

This spring (2012) will be my 34th year of raising onions.  For many years I grew onions for market. In those years I grew at least 2500 onions each year.  I still grow at least 1500 onions or more each year. I’ve always had a good crop.

Virginia is prone to drought.   We probably  have at least 4 weeks without rain almost every summer. More often 6 weeks without rain. Sometimes more.

In all my 33 years of growing successful crops of onions, I have NEVER watered my onions!

Onions are shallow rooted compared to something like tomatoes. But you would be amazed at how deeply onions can put their roots down.  I have pulled onions even in drought conditions that have the healthiest looking 8 or 10 inch root system you’ve ever seen!

Another Example:

On August 10th last year, Sheri, a loyal reader of TendingMyGarden wrote to me. She said:

“We’ve had only 1/4 inch of rain since July 5! (It keeps passing over us like there’s a dome over our house.) It’s awful – but I haven’t watered at all & the tomatoes keep coming w/bunches still on the plants!  Cucs doing ok but zucs slow.  —

” I just cannot imagine ever gardening any other way except your way.  Neighbors are amazed that I never water. ”

Final Thoughts

If you’re not set up to water a garden — or — you just don’t want to be bothered with watering— but want to garden ——-go for it.  I’ve already given you the information to be successful. Prepare your soil deeply. Make it rich in Organic Matter. And Mulch.


Related Posts:

How is Your Garden in This Drought?

Soil Most Valuable Asset for Your Garden

Soil Improvement Your Foundation for Success

Adding Organic Matter – 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

10 Reasons to Mulch


Organic gardening is easy, efficient, effective and it’s a lot healthier!


All content including photos is copyrighted by  All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Comment