In early May of this year we began transforming a fallow field into an experimental dry garden. I am pleased to report that the tomatoes and potatoes we planted into it in late May have exceeded all of our expectations, despite the summer’s dry weather. They have received no irrigation, aside from the watering-in the tomatoes were given on planting day. No rain fell on Open Bay between the first week of June and yesterday evening, the 6th of August, yet the crops have grown and thrived. The potatoes have started to die-back, and have produced a high yield of delicious tubers, while the earlier tomato varieties are just beginning to ripen. The photos attached to this post were all taken a few hours before the rain. I attribute
the success of the crops in the dry garden to generous spacing (the tomatoes are all about four and a half feet apart), double-digging (with pathway topsoil incorporated into the adjacent beds), and the use of mulch atop a layer of newspaper. I have been questioning many of the watering practices I have observed in other peoples’ vegetable gardens for years now, and watching this dry garden grow has strengthened my belief that most people over-, rather than under-irrigate their gardens. Next year we plan to expand the garden considerably, and hope to grow all our garlic, potatoes, and onions in it, as well as experimental crops of carrots, beets, groundcherries, barley and millet. Water is scare here, and we feel it is best used on crops that absolutely require it. I hope to post much more about this project next year.