What should I water? How should I water? When should I water? How much should I water? Will the Padres make the playoffs? They are just a few of the most pressing questions people around the world want to know.
And yes, there are a lot of people in Rome who like the Padres.
Watering is much more than running around the yard squirting every plant in sight. Plants can be quirky so there are no hard or fast rules when it comes to watering.
Water consumption rates vary greatly among plant species. Avoid following a set schedule or going by the months of the year to water. Learn to read your plants’ signals; the plants will tell you when they need a drink. Mine talk. Some even scream.
Anyway, how often you should water, and for how long, will depend on many factors including the size and type of your plant, the season, the weather, the terrain, how much water your irrigation system delivers, stage of growth, amount of sun and shade, precipitation, type of soil, and 192 other variables. (I just made that number up.)
If you stick your fingers 2” into the soil and it’s dry, then water it.
If you stick your finger into the soil and it breaks, avoid doing this test ever again.
I use a soil moisture meter with a probe so that I don’t get my typing finger dirty.
For those gardeners who wish to create a plant-watering schedule, there’s an app for that. Examples: Planta or Blossom…both free!
When possible, choose drought-tolerant plants, including natives. They are adapted to dry climates and will help to conserve water.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, during a summer afternoon, up to half of the water can be lost to evaporation. The best time to water is in the morning (during nature’s dew cycle, between 4 and 7 a.m.). This will give the roots a chance to absorb the water, give the foliage a chance to dry out, decrease the amount of evaporation, and start your new diet by skipping breakfast.
There are several types of irrigation systems: surface, localized, drip, pop-up sprinklers, and manual irrigation.
Pop-up underground sprinkler systems spray water over a large area, but allow half of it to be evaporated on hot, windy days.
A drip (trickle) system of tubing and emitters conserves water by putting it only where it needs to be. It also applies it at a rate slow enough that very little, if anything, is lost to runoff or evaporation.
Soaker hoses are similar to drip systems and allow water penetration to the root zone with minimum surface wetting and water waste. Avoid connecting 4 soaker hoses together; after 100′ of hose, you’ll lose pressure.
Portable sprinklers can be very inefficient. Most spray water that can be windblown to other areas.
A garden hose, a self-watering container (pot with an underneath reservoir), and a good, old-fashioned watering can are some other options
Rain barrels, cisterns, and overflow kits help with collecting rainwater. Rainwater contains nitrogen, which makes plants green. Rainwater doesn’t contain the chlorine and fluoride commonly found in tap water. And…my favorite word (besides love, money, chocolates, beer, and donuts)…it’s free!
If you use greywater from sinks, showers, and washing machines, just be sure you are using ‘plant-friendly’ products (soaps, cleaners, etc.) in any water that is used.
Plants use water during photosynthesis and lose water during transpiration. At least 90% of the water in plants is lost from leaves through transpiration. The remaining water is used during plant development.
Signs of underwatering: dry soil, drooping leaves, crisp, dry, or dead leaf tips, slow growth, older leaves turn brown and might drop off, leaves are wilted or curled, and the soil is pulling away from the sides of the pot.
Signs of over-watering: Soil is constantly wet, young leaves become yellow and brittle, edges become brown, wilting, (plants wilt when they’re thirsty and when they’re overwatered), the presence of algae and mushrooms, and an abundance of pests. More plants die from overwatering than underwatering.
Visitors to https://socalwatersmart.com/ can learn about rebates such as Rain Barrel Rebate, Rotating Sprinkler Nozzle Rebate, Soil Moisture Sensor System Rebates, and Weather-Based Irrigation Controller Rebates.
Slower watering is more effective than applying too much water at once. Water plants at ground level with a drip system or soaker hose rather than using a sprinkler. Make sure that water gets to the root zone.
Rainfall infiltrates soil in a way that is hard to match with any other form of watering.
In next month’s exciting conclusion, we’ll learn …how to do a rain dance. Maybe even the Salsa if we have time.