Sunday, April 4, 2010

How does your garden grow? Part 5: Watering your plants.

Watering your flowers, yard and garden can be a costly and time consuming task. There are many ways in which you can go about this. Your needs may not be the same as mine so pick what you think will work best for you.

Prevention is key here:

- Don't cut your grass too short. You don't have to keep up with the over zealous neighbor. Too short will turn too brown too fast. Capiche? Even fertilizer can make your yard beg for water. So read up on it before using.

- Don't water your 'stuff' a little everyday. You only need to give potted plants a good soak once a week or every other week unless the temperatures skyrocket. And by soak I mean SOAK. By watering a little all of time you are training your plant's roots to surface. This is bad. Go get an oversized tub/tote/bucket and fill it with about 6" of water. This amount will depend on the actual size of your tub/tote/bucket and pot. Set the pot in the water. Let it soak up the water. You don't want the water to go over the top of the pot and make all of your dirt wash away. If you water your potted plants this way you will be able to walk away and do other chores while the plant basically waters itself. This method also ensures that your plant is actually getting the water. How many times have you watered your plant with a full watering can and then see it run down the drive away from you? A waste of water and time. Another good thing about this method is since the plant will only use what it needs you can keep using the tub/tote/bucket for other plants and fill when needed.

- It's sooo nice and sunny out. I think I'm going to go water my garden. STOP RIGHT THERE. PUT THE HOSE DOWN. It is not a good idea to water your garden after you've had your coffee and read the paper. Unless you get up at 3 AM. See I can't do much before having my coffee, so what's a girl to do?! Buy a timer. I bought mine at Walmart for less than $20. I even want to say it was closer to $10. I didn't want anything fancy until I knew what I was in for. Well what do ya know? I am still using the same one and it's been a couple of years now. This cheap timer only has a few setting to pick from like water everyday or every other day. Water once a day at 6 AM or twice a day (6 AM and 6 PM). That's about it. You also pick if you want it to water for 30 minutes, 60 minutes or until you turn it off. It works for me. If you don't want it watering at 6 AM just set the digital clock ahead. If you water your garden at high noon or any time the sun is at it's strongest you risk the water you just put there to evaporate. Now you are thinking 'why don't I just water it at night?' Well you can do this, but I have heard that it can cause rotting and fungus. This is caused when moistures stays on the leaves. The cool night doesn't rid the leaves of moisture fast enough.  Although, plants that are disease resistant can be watered at night. Got all that?! If not here's a list of common plants to our area in NEW that should only be watered in the morning: Roses, Apples, Pears,  Plums, Cherries, Mums, Dahlias, Geraniums, Peonies, Grapes, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Tomatoes, Melons, Cucumbers, Beans, and Begonias. 

- Use a soaker hose. I have two attached to my timer. They run into my garden. I just use the black rubber ones. I used to have the flat ones, but I could not ever get them to lie flat. I put stakes in the ground and weave my hose around them. You are supposed to water your garden enough so that it receives 1" of water a week. You can figure this out by using a rain guage or coffee can (Use a ruler to meassure how much water is in the can.) while the sprinkler is on. You might want to try moving the guage/can around in different spots as sprinklers are known to water perfectly here and not there. Or when using soaker hoses dig down about 12" in a spot close to the hose. If the water has saturated the dirt that far down in the ground you are good. Try to see how long this took so you will remmeber for the future.

- Use free water. Duh, you say. I mean really use free water. Or at least water you are paying for anyway. Instead of running the cold water down the drain until it's hot....capture it in a pitcher. Doing laundry in the basement? Go take water out of the sump pump. Plants love real rain water instead of that yucky treated water in your house. Put a rain barrel under your down spouts. You can even buy kits to make your own out of a garbage can.

I hope you have learned a little today about when to and when not to water. :) I have the tendancy to over water my houseplants. So don't feel bad if these practices don't come natural.  

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