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Parched (08/28/2013)
By Vicki Englich
Is there anyone among us who didnít implore the heavens to turn off the !$#&! faucet last spring? That soggy weather was frustrating not only for home gardeners, but also farmers who needed to plant crops, kayakers who wanted to get on the water (high water makes the current very swift), kids who wanted to play outdoors, and people to just needed to feel some sun on their skin.

I didnít ask that the spigot be turned off forever. Did you?

The past few weeks have been cool and lovely. And DRY. My rain gauge has registered only a scant inch in the past month and half (as of this writing). We need about an inch a week for healthy trees, shrubs and grass. Gardens need more. So, what to do?

I carry water ó mainly. I installed rain barrels on the four corners of my house in order to retrieve the run-off from my roof. Itís not because Iím cheap but because my plants donít need the chlorine or the fluoride that are added to city water. I have also recently learned that iron is removed from our water supply. Plants need iron or else they develop chlorosis which weakens them ó iron-poor blood!

Container plants, whether they be flowers or veggies, need to be watered most days, especially if they are planted in terra cotta which is porous. Plastic pots will retain water longer, but those in the sun will most likely benefit from a daily watering. I have many containers as well as three window boxes that I nurture, so this has become part of my routine. If you must use city water, chlorine will evaporate from full watering cans that are left to sit for a day.

I also have six raised beds. The soil in these beds is different than the potting soil in my containers or the ground soil in which I also plant. These beds contain a mixture of topsoil and compost with supplemental compost/manure each season.

Because the beds are above the soil line, they dry out sooner

than the ground soil, so I water these beds every few days. I tend to seeds and young seedlings more frequently.

I water everything else in the ground weekly. I donít water grass unless it is clear that it will die if I donít. Living in town, I have sandy soil that I supplement with compost and composted manure, but it takes some time to build the texture that holds water longer. Adding peat helps that process along.

There are days when I grow weary of the watering can, so I drag out the hose. The problem with the hose, in addition to the chemicals, is that it encourages shallow watering. Unless you

are watering lawn, I donít recommend sprinklers. They are OK if you can direct the water; most of the time you canít. You want to water roots ó not foliage. Most of the time you are better off by watering garden beds less frequently but more deeply. Tomatoes especially appreciate this since they develop deep roots. Lettuces and other greens are thirstier since their roots are more shallow.

All in all, Iím doing my best not to complain too much, but I am now imploring the heavens to give us a nice, gentle soak that will last all day. Who wants to sign my petition? 


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