Think ‘waffle’ to square up a water-wise veggie garden |

Think ‘waffle’ to square up a water-wise veggie garden

With the warming of daytime temps and the soil, we get closer each day to planting those warm-season vegetables most gardeners love — peas, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and more.

Yet the drought still looms. This year, in particular, we need to find ways to be even wiser with water than ever by planting the most sustainable of all gardening ventures — the edibles.

Gardeners: try a “waffle garden.”

No, it’s not a group of grains for growing your own waffle ingredients. It’s a technique developed by Native American Zuni in New Mexico.

The “waffle” refers a pattern of squares much like the one on the waffle you eat. The depressions that hold syrup in the edible waffle hold water in the garden variety. Here’s how it works: Instead of planting veggies in long rows, plant seeds and starter plants of the same kind within squares that are dug out to be slightly lower than the rest of the garden.

Within each square, lower the soil about 1-2 inches, then rim the edge of the square with a mound of soil about 3-4 inches high. This technique essentially creates a square saucer that holds water and prevents runoff after watering. Visualize syrup in the waffle.

Waffle gardening also makes plantings slightly denser than they would be if planted in rows. This tighter form of planting shades the soil, helping it hold moisture. The shade also helps deter weeds.

Other tips for a water-wise edible garden:

• After planting, apply mulch around the bases of plants. Wood chips or even grass clippings from mowing the lawn make good mulches.

• Use drip irrigation. It is the most efficient method of watering all plants other than lawns. It is also gardener friendly because you can simply schedule automatic watering via the irrigation system’s timer.

What to plant

Once the danger of frost passes, get warm-season crops in the ground. This year, de-emphasize the more ornamental plants, like pumpkins, and plant more serious edibles such as:

• Tomatoes

• Tomatillos

• Peppers

• Squash varieties

• Brussels sprouts

• Beans and peas

• Rhubarb

• Berries, such as raspberries and strawberries

There’s nothing more local than the produce you serve just minutes after it was picked in your own backyard. Growing edibles is a sustainable use of resources when we use water wisely.

Courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company based in Silverthorne that is a member. You may contact them at (970) 468-0340.

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