While it’s a frustrating situation to see your hard work and garden dreams start to dry up, as with this bell pepper plant, there are some strategies you can use to turn things around.

As we all know by now, Maryland weather keeps us on our toes.
Last year it seemed to rain on days that end in “y,” but there is no guarantee we will have the same wet weather this year.
Mother Nature could shake things up and give us a drought.
But doesn’t mean our gardens can’t still be bountiful!
Gardeners in areas where they expect droughts frequently stay a few steps ahead of the weather by planting drought resistant plants, typically deep rooted tomatoes, melons and asparagus and the like, or plants with a shorter growing period.
The University of California even has a list of varieties for their disgruntled gardeners.
They also might plant a bit earlier than usual to avoid the high heat months and they may even put a full sun plant in slight shade.
However, in our area with weather going either way, Maryland gardeners are probably best served with a reactive than a proactive approach.
For active gardeners it goes without saying, but if plants start to droop or wilt or begin to brown around the edges, they are in need of water.
Later in the season, a failure to flower or start fruit is also a serious sign of water need.
It’s important to help curb the problem as perennials can be affected for years to come as in their weakened state they can be more susceptible to insect damage and may not be able to prepare their nutrient stores for the upcoming winter.
While it’s a frustrating situation to see your hardwork and garden dreams start to dry up, there are some strategies you can use to turn things around.
When and how you water your garden is a big factor.
Watering, especially manually, is best done in the cooler morning or evening hours.
Just like you and your coffee, this allows the plants to drink in the water before the heat of the day starts!
You’ll also want to water around the entire plant and root area, not just at the base of your plant.
Sprinklers can be nice to refresh and cool down your garden, but during a severe drought, they get discouraged by officials seeking water conservation.
Many run at a predicted 50- to 70-percent efficiency after wind, evaporation, and misplaced water take their share.
Worse yet, some of that misplaced water can also linger on foliage, making certain plants susceptible to pests and disease. Instead, try running a few soaker hoses near your plants so water can seep into the roots where it is sorely needed.
If your summer days tend to be busy, you could even set your soaker hoses to an inexpensive water timer, where you can set the time of day and amount of time to water to stay consistent. When rain does come, it’s easy to skip a day or so.
Though there’s a slight money and time commitment initially, soaker hoses can be a great help that you will be able to re-use in your garden for years to come, regardless if using for drought issues, easier watering, or even going on vacation.
After properly watering your garden, the number one technique to keep the moisture is mulching.
Adding a thick 2-3 inch layer of mulch acts as if you are putting a lid on your soil, a lid that traps moisture, slows evaporation and keeps the soil cool.
The mulch also helps control weeds which if let go will compete with your plants for water.
And as tough as weeds seem to be, they’ll usually win out.
Don’t think that you have to go buy fancy mulch like you would for flower beds.
Natural mulches like grass clippings, dried leaves, pine needles, straw and shredded bark that will all do the trick.
The nutrients from the natural material will be added as it breaks down.
If you go with a soaker hose system, you would put the mulch on top of your hose.
Besides watering, one of your first instincts may be to feed your plant, but wait to add fertlizer until they perk back up for a bit.
Nutrient boosters encourage your plant to grow and fruit, but when your plant is already deprived and fighting to stay alive, it doesn’t need to be focusing on growing too.