How to cope with parched plots and a lack of rain.
● Your plot is a dry dustbowl and plants aren’t growing.
● Seeds need moisture to germinate and rainfall to grow. Late summer, when most plots are planted, is often brutally dry in much of the country, turning perennial plots brown and stunting or killing plants. Getting seeds to germinate is difficult, and newly emerged shoots often wither.
● Plant seeds that grow with minimal moisture: chicory, alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, small burnet, wheat, red clover, lablab, and Eagle soybeans. Buy seed mixes that have moisture-holding coatings, like Whitetail Institute’s RainBond. Find spots such as northeast-facing slopes where plants receive maximum morning and midday sun when it’s cool, and the least amount of hot late-afternoon sun. Locate plots adjacent to tall trees bordering the south and west. They’ll block the harshest late-day sun.
● Plant in bottomlands that hold moisture, near ponds, streams, and spring seeps. Lay out the plots in linear shapes to take advantage of shade from surrounding trees. Plant just before a rain to give the seeds the best chance of sprouting. If drought is persistent, consider drilling a well and running sprinklers on plots, or setting up a pump and irrigation system from a lake or pond. Bigsprinkler.com has setups starting at $995. I use a spare well and $14 circular sprinklers from Walmart connected to as many as a dozen 50-foot garden hoses to water plots in dry times. They won’t replace rain but can save the plot until it arrives.