Put the Water Where it's Needed!

Wise Watering

Written by Gayle

Now that warmer weather seems to be upon us, the hot days are sure to follow.  And as we all know, we are in a long-term drought.  Let’s all be a little more wise about using our water.  Here are some tips:
  • Water in the morning.  Don’t wait until the heat is at its peak, causing evaporation.  But for the health of your plants, resist the desire to water in cool, moist evenings, when fungus and molds may more readily develop.
  • It’s the least effective method for watering, but most of us have sprinklers for our yards.  But your can cut back sprinkling time.  Even decreasing the time by a few minutes can save hundreds of gallons of water.  And while you’re at it, check to make sure your sprinklers are in good repair and not watering the street or sidewalks.
  • For gardens and container gardening, soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems will save you time, money, and water over the long-term.  Be sure to check them regularly to make sure the plants are getting the water they need without overwatering.
  • Hand watering is a great way to get into your yard and check on the health of your plants.  You can direct water right to the root zone for the most efficient use of your water.  Don’t automatically start watering every time you go into the garden, however.  Poke your finger into the soil to see if it’s moist.  It can be fairly dry in the top few inches, but if it’s still dry 3-4 inches down, it’s time to water.  If it’s soggy 5-6 inches down, you are overwatering.  Hold off for a few days and check again.
  • Make sure to mulch–top off your garden with organic material (grass clippings, bark, wood chips) to hold moisture into the soil.  It will prevent a lot of surface evaporation.
  • If you are going to be away from your containers for a few days, try this easy and fun way to keep your plants watered:
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This is the bird-feeder method of watering containers in pots.  It can be done both outdoors and indoors.
Just fill some narrow-necked bottles with water.
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Then poke a hole about 4 inches deep in the soil close to the roots of your plants.  Now just flip the bottle upside down into the hole and push the soil around the neck to keep the bottle upright.  The water will slowly seep into the soil.  
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This will keep your pots moist for several days, depending on how hot and dry it gets.  This is a great way to keep your house plants alive while you are gone on vacation–even for a couple of weeks!  (Use a larger bottle for a longer period of time.)  
I’m really happy with how my container garden is going–you see I already have some flowers on my heirloom tomatoes!  And I’ve used the basil at least a half-dozen times since I planted, too!  
Gardening can bring a lot of tasty fun into your life, too–but let’s all be sure to water wisely!

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