Growing food in a waterwise garden

Gardening experts offer tips and tricks for a lush, eco-friendly garden in our waterwise gardeners' roundtable.

Credit: iStock / saintho

Carol Pope:

Can you grow food without it being a water-guzzler garden? Is having a food garden a good eco decision? What is the best strategy for watering food gardens?

Mary Ann Newcomer:
My grandparents and great grandparents did not have irrigation systems for their home gardens, yet all of their produce came directly from their home gardens. If you increase the organic matter in your soil you, will increase its ability to retain water. If you use drip irrigation, you will not be spraying liquid gold into thin air but putting it near the plants root system instead. I believe you will find that tomatoes can survive quite nicely with a good deep soaking once, maybe twice a week, which is not exactly “water guzzling.”

May I say here that while automated irrigation system are helpful and seem like time savers, they are just as often wasteful. Systems need to be monitored closely, directed wisely, kept in efficient working order and only used as needed. Don’t just turn it on and walk away.

More from the Waterwise Gardeners Roundtable:

Lush lawn, waterwise lawn?

Reform a guzzler garden

Waterwise quick fixes

Recycling garden waste

Waterwise tips for new gardeners

Eco-friendly lawns

A healthy-looking lawn

Herbicides and pesticides

Eco-friendly ponds

I would say vegetable gardens are an excellent eco decision. If you value fruits and vegetables with the highest nutritional content and flavour, growing your own is the way to go. As food goes, few things can compare to eating the first, warm, ripe red tomato just picked from your very own garden. And picking your own raspberries for breakfast or for your glass of champagne? Yes, I say, yes!

Plus, every strawberry, cherry, head of lettuce, cucumber and tomato you grow is one less shipped across the country on fossil fuel to get to your plate.