Broken Record

Watering …. yes again.

A broken record yet again, for the record! Of course my kids are use to this. There goes Dad again but I can tell by the look in their eyes that they are appreciative of every word.

Some of the confusion around watering stems from the fact that water can be both a limited resource and a damaging element. As everyone knows (like my children) I strongly believe that people must learn to judge when the plants need water before they apply water and the application can not be done on a schedule. If plants are under-watered (scarce) or over-watered (damaging) the result is the same …. root death. Once roots have been damaged it takes time for the plant to repair and regrow new roots to support its top growth.

In the summers it is often a time of scarce water resources. In the city all water must be treated and unfortunately the water going on your garden has had expensive limited resources used to make it fit to drink and sometimes the demand outstrips supply. In the country most people will be on wells. Often the aquifer that the well is tapping into is limited in supply and as the summer progresses water levels will drop and yet again you are using valuable drinking water to water your garden.

A partial solution to this is proper water management from the beginning. When you first establish plants you want to water them in very thoroughly saturating the soil in their near vicinity. This will serve to wash soil into the voids around the roots leading to the best soil/root relationship. After that you want to allow the soil to dry out until just before the plants starts to be stressed by lack of water. At that point the roots will not be damaged and they will have grown as vigorously as possible looking for more water creating a more robust root system. What do you next?…repeat. What will happen is the time between waterings will increase as the root system expands. As the summer progresses you will be able to restrict your watering hopefully until you don’t need to water any longer.

Here is the part that my kids love best (“yes Dad”). The key to success is to manage your plants so that they have the most robust roots systems possible so that you don’t have to use an excess of water during the times when our water resources are at our lowest…..(“wait, wait come back I wasn’t finished yet…what do you mean you have to go and check your facebook page….this is your Dad you are listening to!..or not.”)

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