It's well known that this season has been unbelievably dry. We've been in Nova Scotia for almost 9 years and have never experienced such a drought. Since we have well-drained sandy loam soil, which is perfect for growing vegetables, it has been quite a challenge to keep everything hydrated and growing nicely. How fortunate that early on in the season we decided to install an irrigation system! It's been quite a learning curve figuring out how to maximize our gravity-fed water system. We tried both sprinklers and drip tape and by far the drip is winning out in efficiency and usefulness.
Mulches are also very important in dry years since they reduce evaporation and conserve soil moisture. We're using biodegradable black plastic mulch for the first time this year, and our mulched zucchinis that were planted later are twice as big as those without mulch. Sure, there can be a difference in soil temperature, but the big difference is moisture retention which has been absolutely vital this summer.
So far, our well has run dry about 6 or 7 times, and it's taking longer to recharge. This season has definitely obliterated our naive assumption that we don't have to worry about water in Nova Scotia (especially on the heels of a wet 2011!).
Times they are a changing' and we have to adapt along with them...we see irrigation ponds and rain barrels in our future.