||It's getting hot
Randy offers some drought tips...
Howdy Gardening Enthusiasts! This year, The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts a hot, dry summer for much of North America. What's a gardener to do? If plants dry out during drought conditions, they'll starve and, eventually, die. Here are some tips that not only gives green thumbs an opportunity to record their planting triumphs and tragedies, but also offers the following advice on how to deal with drought. Some of these suggestions are from The Old Farmers Almanac, and some are from yours truly.
Improve the soil organically. Soil with lots of organic matter slows the transition of water from the soil to the subsoil, giving plants a chance to take in what they need. That's why lawns with higher organic matter in under the turf don't need to be watered as often.
Focus on plants that can weather dry spells, and avoid or greatly reduce those that need frequent watering - such as the list that I gave you in last week's tip.
Choose bush varieties. Plants that grow low to the ground lose less water through transpiration than those that grow tall and spread rampantly.
Space plants close together. Leaves from neighboring plants will shade the soil, helping to conserve surface moisture and reduce weed growth.
Mulch well. You know my mantra: You Can Never Have Enough Mulch! It prevents moisture from evaporating directly from the soil surface, and it can greatly reduce competition from weeds.
Speaking of weeds -- Weed diligently. Don't allow weeds to compete with your plants for moisture. Smother them, pull them out, and keep on fighting.
Reduce evaporation. Remember the tip I sent out a few weeks ago on watering schedules for the yard? Water your lawn and/or garden early in the morning, allowing the greenery to actually use the moisture, plus because of less wind in the mornings you will get less evaporation - unlike watering in the heat of the day.
Use a drip system. This is a great way to conserve on you water bills, but more importantly focus the irrigation at the base of the plants. Drip irrigation is more water-thrifty than sprinklers.
Make those tomatoes go naked! Strip off leaves. Large, bushy tomato plants lose a lot of water through their leaves. Once the green tomatoes reach full size, strip off most of the leaves to reduce evaporation and keep water going to the ripening fruit.
In vegetable gardens, harvest at once. As soon as a fruit or vegetable is ripe, remove it from the plant. Pull up any plants that aren't productive or that are past their prime.
Roll out the rain barrel! Old-time advice extols the merits of a large barrel, positioned just so to catch rainfall, especially from downspouts or gutters. There's wisdom in saving as much rainwater as you can-and in using it for your plants when the dry days come.
Make your own watering devices. Create mini reservoirs for tomatoes and peppers from plastic milk jugs. With a sharp knife, cut several small X-shaped holes in the bottom, bury about half of the jug in the soil between two plants, and refill as needed. The water will seep slowly and deeply down to where the plants' roots can use it most.
Until next week, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
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