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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Water Tutorial For Healthier Plants And Lawns

June has finally arrived and it's beginning to feel like summer. Up to now it's been pretty easy to keep up with planting summer annuals and watering. As the temperatures get into the 90s we will have to be more diligent with our watering. Established beds with shrubs and trees will need less water than those beds that have just been planted. When I plant new beds in the spring I will baby those plants for their first year. I do this by making sure the new plantings are watered deeply enough to get those roots established. Watering deeply is achieved by using a lower volume of water for longer periods of time.

Trees especially need deep watering so that when the hotter temperatures arrive they will be able to thrive. Sometimes I put the hose on the tree’s root, lower the flow to a trickle and set my timer for 30 minutes so I won't forget it's on. I always use root stimulator when I plant anything so I'll have the roots as healthy as they can be to take up water and nutrients.

I've done experiments with root stimulator on Hosta roots. I grew them in clear plastic pots so I can see the roots progress. Those Hostas I use root stimulator on grew three times faster and had three times as many roots.

As it gets hotter, plants in pots will begin screaming at you more frequently for water. When watering pots, three times I fill them to the top, without overflowing. By filling up that space between the top of the soil in the rim of the pot three times I know the soil is saturated all the way to the bottom where it counts. Watering this way ensures you won't have to water again for a little longer and is healthier for the roots. Watering tends to leach a lot of the nutrients out of the bottom of the pot or the drain holes. Leaching the nutrients out means you'll need to fertilize more frequently the potted plants.

Our lawns certainly have been drenched this spring. The constant deluges we've had over the last six months will certainly bring with it fungus problems and probably weeds will be prevalent in any areas that water drains and settles in.

Low spots might begin to show brown spots or brown circles. These brown patches will continue to grow, especially as the temperatures get higher. The fungicides the garden centers will recommend to you work very well but it's important to use them correctly or they won't completely get rid of the fungus. When using fungicides, remember not only to apply it on the affected area but also on the areas around the affected areas. The fungus is creeping forward into your healthy areas spreading farther.

It's very important to mark your calendar to remind yourself to reapply fungicide 10 days later because some of the fungus spores will be affected by the fungicide while some of the spores will not have reached a stage that will be, therefore 10 days later those younger spores will have reached a stage of maturity that will be affected.

In the meantime try to keep watering in that area to a minimum. Most lawn funguses can't survive without water soaking it down.

When you think you have the fungus under control you might be left with some large bare spots. There are several ways to fill in the bare patches depending on the severity of the damage left behind. On smaller areas I think raking sharp white sand lightly into the bare spots can do wonders for aiding the grass to a successful comeback. If the spots are large you can seed or sod the area for a faster return.

Once your lawn is back to normal resume watering regularly. Watering lawns less frequently but for longer periods is a good way to promote healthy roots. The watering needs of your lawn will be different than the needs of your plant beds so if you can set the irrigation zones to correlate to what it is that you were watering.

This is the time of year I begin to put some of my house plants outside in the shade and repot them into slightly larger pots with good soil. Houseplants are from the tropics so they don't do well when nights are not above 60°. We are well into the right temperatures now to bring the tropicals outside for a breath of fresh air. It's amazing how much they grow and get healthier when they're living outside in the shade. You'll need to bring them back inside when our nights begin to cool off again in November.

I'm hoping that everyone is doing well as they can during this pandemic. We have a real mess on our hands. Just remember that garden centers will stay open even if there is a second wave. They are great places to safely be outside surrounded by beauty. If you can't decide how you want to spend yet one more day trying to stay sane, try visiting a garden center and get a breath of fresh air.


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