Hello gardening friends, hope all is well with you and your plantings thus far; mine have been Deer/critter sprayed for some bit of protection. As we get ready to plant our annual and perennial gardens, we get out the hose reels, turning on and test the hose bibs, and our irrigation systems.
As an advocate of conserving water when possible, I will avail you of some of my watering tips and techniques.
1.- Awareness: Be aware of rainfall in an amount of time (week, 2 weeks), for example, where you can be conscious of just how much rainfall we are supposed to get, or how much we have gotten; this will help you with your watering schedule. I used to give my customers rain gauges, to help raise their awareness, and as it turned out, only the more science-minded people had sustained interest. I suggest using rain gauges also to conserve water, (along with monitoring future-casts), and I will cover more conservation topics in a future articles.
2.- Irrigation systems and hand watering: Check your irrigation system, that it may have a Rain Sensor. These remote wireless sensors are easy to install, and can save you money, in addition to not wasting water, a precious resource. They are very reasonably priced, and make great sense to have as a part of your system. Also check watering zone water duration times, as well as start and end times for maximum benefits of watering. Turf zones should only water turf areas, and shrub zones should only water shrub areas, exclusively. Many of my customers’ trees and shrubs are over-watered due to turf watering over-lapping into tree and shrub beds. This causes plants to fail. As far as hand watering, check for leaky hoses, and connectors to prevent waste; remember to always turn off the hoses bib as soon as you are done watering. Forgetting this can result in burst hoses, and a tremendous waste of water.
3.- Container gardening and watering: Many of us love to create beautiful container gardens to nurture throughout the season. As a container garden professional, I would like to share some of my tips with you now. “Soils First” is a good motto to follow; Use only a professional grade mix including a polymer, or, add an organic element, such as humus, to help retain water. This cuts back on the frequency of watering, as well as providing a more constant moisture source for your plantings. By adding the organic matter, we can also reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers for the plants, as well as offering the benefits of organic nutrients for plant health. The addition of a sustained moisture control benefits us in times of draught, heat, and when we vacation away from our container gardens. As far as when to water our creations, “when in doubt, check it out”. Test the soil frequently for moisture levels, until the planter is on a relative schedule for watering. This schedule will change from June through September, depending on sunlight, temperature, and rainfall. In the case of excessive rain, we have the benefit of moving containers into garages, and protected areas, or covering with tarps.
I would like to mention also, that container gardening for your vegetables and herbs, (“kitchen garden”), can provide great success, and convenience. (Part of this convenience is Rabbit-proofing). While I recommend your perennial herbs to be planted in the ground, many veggies and herbs can be container planted with great success.
I hope that this posting has helped you come to a different consciousness about the issue of how and when to water, save water, and use water wisely.
Written By: Everett Fink
Edited By: Elysse Fink
Everett Fink is a Certified Rutgers Master Gardener, Certified Pesticide applicator, and N.J. State licensed Home Improvement Contractor. Everett was designated Top Tier Designer at Sponzilli Landscape, and currently Owns Property Details LLC, in New Jersey. Property Details has a Container Gardening Division designing and maintaining Pools, Patios, and Porches with beautiful flowers, and foliage.