Friday, April 8, 2011

Watering Your Garden

Well, it sure seems like Summer is in a big hurry to get here with us in the Central Florida area. 
What happened to SPRING ?...sheesh…

It goes without saying that our weather makes GARDENING a bit of a challenge at times, especially since we are still dealing with drought conditions.

HERE is some useful stuff to consider when it comes to watering your Garden. 
It focuses on hand…hose…watering, but may be applied to Gardens that use irrigation systems.

Watering Your Garden:

During the dry, hot months of the Summer, standard lawns and groundcovers will need one inch of water every week. Florida Native grass lawns and groundcovers need one inch every other week. Use a rain gauge or a clean, empty container with a large opening, like a coffee can.
When you water, soak the soil thoroughly. It is better to water more heavily and less frequently than to water lightly with much greater frequency. Deep watering promotes deep root growth, and discourages the growth of shallow-root weeds.
To minimize the frequent need for watering, mulch thoroughly. During hot, rainless periods…droughts in the Southeast fit in this category…a healthy, established annual or perennial plant should be watered one to three times a week. A woody tree or shrub in the same environment would need a thorough soaking once or twice weekly.

Watering New Plants:

When deciding how often to water your new delights, ask the following questions in order to get familiar with your Garden’s watering needs...
1.      How long since transplanting? Newly planted plants require more frequent watering.. Start reducing your watering after 2 to 3 weeks. Make sure that the plant roots start growing out into the surrounding soil and the above ground portion of the plant shows strong signs of new growth before doing so.
2.      How hot and windy is it? Heat and wind cause increased water loss by plants. When day time temperatures move into the 80’s, water newly transplanted plants every other day. Once the air temperature hits the 90 degree mark check the plants morning and evening, looking for wilted leaves as these indicate dry soil. In the beginning,, a daily watering WILL be needed for small plants.
3.      How deep did that last rain soak the soil? Rain amounts can be deceiving. Always stick a shovel…or other indicator with surface that is easy to see when it’s wet.…in to the ground after a rain and do a visual check as to how deeply the water soaked into the soil. The soil needs to be damp to a depth of at least 4 inches to do new transplants any good. 
4.      Have the plants been mulched? Mulching plants can cut watering frequency by half (every other day vs. daily...twice weekly vs. every other day).
5.      Sandy soils dry out very quickly and plants will need very frequent irrigation when first planted. Also keep in mind that when climate conditions are very dry, extra water is needed to replace moisture lost to the dry soil surrounding the plant.

Signs of over-watering:

When the soil stays wet and the leaves of recent transplants become yellow and slimy, cut back watering by half…NOT half the amount, but half of the frequency.
If you are watering regularly but the leaves look wilted all the time, the plant roots are dying of suffocation. Too much water keeps the soil waterlogged and oxygen deprived.
Move aside the mulch from around the plant and let the top inch or so of the soil completely dry out between watering.

Well, I hope this has helped with watering your Garden here, in Central Florida.
As always, please feel free to email me if you have any additional questions about this, or any other topic that will help make YOUR Garden an AWESOME ADVENTURE.


P.S. Just to add a tiny morsel of more information...Tom McCubbin, of Channel 13...just emailed me and said that a good basic rule for WATERING is to let the water soak down into the Garden soil about 4 - 6 inches, which is about 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch of standing water...;)

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