Claire DunnDeep and meaningful watering

HIT AND MYTH: Make your watering deep and meaningful. Picture: Erin JonassonSpraying the hose around the garden the other evening, I wondered whether the activity was making me feel better more than the plants. Apart from harvesting, watering has got to be one of the most enjoyable parts of gardening. Recently though I have realised that I’m second guessing how much water the plants need to thrive. Am I force feeding them more than they require? Or is it barely skimming the surface?

Too little water and the roots die from lack of moisture. Too much water and the spaces between soil particles remain filled with water, suffocating roots.

Wilting or rotting plants are obvious signs of extreme over or under watering, but, apart from that, how does one ascertain how much a plant needs?

With rain scarce and hot weather plentiful, the question is even more poignant. There are a few golden rules for watering that gardeners do well to watch. Especially in summer, early morning watering is far preferable than evening.

I originally believed that this was because watering in the middle of a sunny day can cause leaves to burn under the mini magnifying glass of water droplets, but I’ve since learnt that this is an urban myth. The more important reason is that watering in the morning allows the ground to dry out over the day, rather than creating the fungal-friendly conditions of wet feet on a humid night.

Frequency and depth is important too. Rather than a quick fling with the hose, it’s far better to give your plants a deep and meaningful water. As tempting as it is to sprinkle the garden like a magic wand twice daily, it’s far better to take the time to water deeply every other day.

Adding water-saving crystals to the soil can be a lifesaver in hot weather, helping the soil retain the moisture at the root level.

We all know the value of mulch to retain moisture, but it’s not that simple. Many a do-good mulcher can dry plants out without proper preparation.

Horticulturist David Peterson from Heritage Gardens Nursery explained why.

“We certainly recommend mulching heavily this time of year, but the trick is to water the ground first before putting the mulch on. If you don’t do this, the water can end up only going as far as the top layer of mulch – leaving your plants high and dry,” David said.

“Because we haven’t had decent rain for such a long time the subsoil is drying up considerably, so even established trees need deep watering and mulching. You do need to keep the water up to seedlings, as well as liquid feeding them.”

If this all sounds too hard, you could always go with the trend of succulents and cactus that you can forget about for a week or two without much consequence, but you’ll miss out on the joy of nature’s original air-conditioner – a well-loved well-watered tree.

Claire Dunn is the author of My Year Without Matches: Escaping the city in search of the wild. You can contact her at [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训南京性息

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