Retraining Your Thirsty Plants
It’s time to help all our plants develop deeper root systems so that they can better withstand what summer and drought might bring.
We all should know that most plant roots (and that includes most trees) are in the top foot or so of soil like a great pancake surrounding a plant and interlaced with the root system of neighboring plants.
Before sprinkler systems were commonplace, hoses and sprinklers were awkward, heavy and used only occasionally, and only when necessary. Most people relied on rainfall to tend to the yard, except for seedbeds and new plantings. That hard heavy work on our part made the plants develop deep root systems, and survive “times of lean and times of plenty”.
We need to keep the sprinkler controller in the “OFF” position unless we see that the plants look dry. Then water deeply perhaps twice or three times in a row until the soil is wet at least 1 foot down.
How do we know that it is wet? We look with a shovel! In an ideal world it would gently rain 1″ every week. Try to replicate that yourself and water only that amount. In extreme heat you will need to water more often but summer is not year round.
The air temperature in shade is up to 20 degrees cooler than in the sun, so plant trees, and mulch to slow down evaporation and change out your sprinkler heads to avoid water running down the curb, or drifting into the air. If your plants die in the heat or Faroese drought, consider alternate varieties that require less water.
Regardless of you stand on Global Warming we can all agree that it was a hard long summer, and hopefully there will not be a repeat this year.
Let’s all cross our fingers and re-educate our plants.
-Barbara Van Gorder