The Q&A Archives: Controlling Evaporation with Mulch and Windbreaks

Question: I live in Santa Fe, NM where it is hot and windy (25-40mph winds). How can I reduce evaporation of water from our garden? We are growing tomatoes, green peppers, bush beans, herbs, lettuce, spinach in raised beds and the soil is well amended. Sam Smith Santa Fe, NM

Answer: The easiest, most effective, and possibly least expensive way to conserve moisture in a garden is by using mulching material. A lot of things can make a mulch, usually organic; you can even buy packaged mulching materials. Mulches are applied in layers 2 to 4 inches deep around trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables. Keep the mulch material about 1 to 2 inches away from the trunk or stem of the plant. Now would also be a good time to start planting some windbreak plants, even if it's only smallfast-growing shrubs on the windward side of the vegetable bed.

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