Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Watering the Garden

I’ve been dragging hoses and hauling watering cans for the past several weeks so naturally this week’s blog is about watering. In my travels around town I’ve seen a few watering "no-no’s."

Neighbor Ed's garden--looking good
First, it takes up to two years for plant material to fully root in so if you have newly planted landscaping make sure they get 1" of water a week. A well established plant and grass can certainly handle a little drought but drought does stress the plants and make them more susceptible to disease even into the following year

Second, water in the morning so that any water that splashes on to the leaves has a chance to dry before evening. This will reduce the opportunity for disease.

Third, water the soil, not the plant. I noticed my neighbor Ed, whose garden is looking quite lush, water with a sprinkler the other evening. Watering from overhead is very inefficient because of evaporation. Water will also splash up onto lower leaves and can invite soil borne diseases such as tomato blight. Watering in the evening also can provide an opportunity for diseases, since they thrive in moist conditions.

Put the hose at the base of the plant
to ensure proper watering

When water trees and shrubs, especially newly planted ones, place the hose right up to the base of the plant and leave it on a slow trickle for awhile. This allows the water to penetrate the root ball from the center and then move out into the surrounding soil and encourages the roots to grow out in the same direction.   

And one last thing on the watering front: Lots of people, including me, garden in containers and not just flowers but vegetables as well.  I have two whisky barrels that I plant up every year with tomotoes, peppers, eggplant and some herbs every year.  If you grow tomatoes in containers it is very important that you water them consistently.   Tomatoes require calcium to prevent a problem known as blossom end rot.  There is usually enough calcium in the soil from fertilizers to provide enough calcium but if they get too much water so that the calcium is diluted or not enough water so that they cannot pull enough up through their roots you will notice a "water spot" on the blossom end of the tomato.  Eventually it turns black and starts to rot.  If you notice this happening there are foliar calcium products on the market that you can spray on the plants to prevent it but also remember to water regularly.

No comments: