We’ve found that mulching the garden beds with straw or hay makes a huge difference in the moisture retained in the soil. It also helps control weeds around the desirable plants. While straw is preferable (it takes longer to break down and is less likely to blow away) you can use old hay.
This is what a mulched bed should look like – eggplants and capsicums looking happy.
Unfortunately if the hay you use is full of seeds, this is what you end up with – more of a raised lawn with some chillies hiding in there somewhere. Now we leave the hay out for the chickens to fossick through for a while to remove the seeds as much as possible.