Posts Tagged ‘watering’

Garden Heatwave: How to Care for Heat-Stressed Plants

July 30th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Garden Heatwave How to Care for Heat Stressed Plants

Phew! It’s been a hot and humid one recently. It’s bad enough in the UK, but lots of you have to cope with weather that’s considerably hotter and drier. So whether you’re struggling with a miniature heatwave or a summer-long slog of extreme high temperatures, read on or watch the video for a few tips to help you to help your plants cope.

Smart Watering

It’s obvious that in hot, dry weather, plants will need more water to keep them healthy and productive, but it’s important to use smart watering techniques to make the most of every drop.

The best time to water is early in the morning, when moisture is slower to evaporate and water levels can be recharged ahead of the heat of the day. Check soil regularly – every day if you can – and water if it’s dry at finger depth. Remember, it’s better to really drench the soil once every few days, rather than merely dampen the surface daily.

A close up of a drip irrigation system in a dry gardenScrape soil into ridges around plants to create bowls to water into, or water into old pots or bottles sunk into the soil next to plants. That way the water will go directly to the roots where it’s needed, instead of running away over the soil surface.

Drip irrigation systems set up on a timer are a good option if you’re not able to water daily in hot weather.

Container plants dry out very quickly and may need watering twice a day, especially if it’s windy too. Check that the water is actually being absorbed – you don’t want it just running straight down cracks between the potting soil and container wall. Continue watering until you see water running out of the bottom. Pot saucers can be used to hold the water around your containers for little bit longer.

Lock in Soil Moisture

When you’re done watering, it’s time to lock in that valuable moisture. Mulches of organic material such as compost, leaves or grass clippings all help to slow evaporation by shading the soil from the sun’s rays. Mulches also keep the root zone cooler, reducing the stress your plants are under.

You can create a living mulch by planting densely or using rambunctious, sprawling plants like squashes to shade the soil.

Stop Feeding

When temperatures rise above 85-90ºF (29-32ºC), many plants really start to struggle. Some, like tomatoes, cope by rolling up their leaves – a natural response that reduces water loss. Many fruiting plants, including tomatoes, beans and peppers may also drop their flowers or stop producing new ones as they try to cope with the heat.

Now you may think the answer is to fertilise your crops to make them stronger, but this only exacerbates the situation, because plants will then need even more water to process all that fertiliser. A sudden flush of nutrients also signals to the plant that it’s time to grow – a dangerous and stress-inducing move in soaring temperatures. So stop fertilising and concentrate on watering instead.

Add Some ShadeGarden shade cloth protecting crops in the garden

When it’s hot we love to seek out some shade, and so will many of your crops. Shade plants with anything you can get hold of – old net curtains or tulle cloth works well, as do old white bedsheets. Purpose-sold shade cloth is available in different levels of sun block, from 15%, 30%, 40% – right up to 100%. Plants won’t grow as fast under it, but they’ll still receive some sunshine and will be a lot less stressed.

Pin the shade cloth into position with bulldog clips or clothes pins, using frames or hoops to support it. Many plants will benefit from some shading from hot afternoon sunshine, including cool-season vegetables like cabbage and lettuce, and fruits such as strawberries.

Harvest Promptly

Removing plant material by harvesting it means that there’s less foliage or fruits for your plants to have to service. Fruiting and pod-producing plants especially should be harvested promptly to save the plant’s energy. Finish ripening fruits that haven’t fully coloured up in the kitchen to give your plants a break. They’ll switch back to their productive selves once the weather cools.

Extreme summer heat can be as stressful for plants as it is for us, but give these simple strategies a go and save your plants a lot of suffering. What are your tips to help your plants keep their cool? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Ways with watering

July 5th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Sweet peas appreciate plenty of water

“Watering requires more care than is often given to it.” As we look back over a hundred years, so we read in the introduction to the fine old Annual & Biennial Garden Plants by A. E. Speer published in 1911.

“In dry weather a little sprinkling does more harm very often than good. The roots are attracted to the surface only to be burnt up by the hot rays of the sun. When watering do it thoroughly, so that it may go down to the roots, and not the roots up to the moisture.

“Some annuals, like Sweet Peas, especially if grown for exhibition, require copious watering, and occasionally with a little liquid manure added. Always water after the sun is off the plants; and it may be added, rain-water saved from a tub is preferable to water from a pipe. It is softer and not so cold.”

Good advice. My approach is to enrich the soil with organic matter by mulching and working in weed-free compost when planting so the soil retains as much moisture as possible.

I’m also very keen on spot watering and spot feeding individual plants as they need it. Tomatoes, courgettes, outdoor cucumbers, sweet peas and dahlias in particular appreciate a regular drench and to make this easier, when planting, I create a shallow dip into which the plants are set. This collects water and feed where it’s needed and prevents it running away across the border.

The good Mr Speer is right when he says that “pipe” water can be very cold. But it’s also good to remember that the water in a hose pipe left out in the sun can also get very hot. Some gardeners line up filled watering cans one day for use the next, allowing the water to warm up.

Me? I think it’s more important to do it rather than not, and not to worry too much about the temperature. Either way, you’ll see the difference.

Help Your Garden Survive a Summer Drought

August 17th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

gardening-during-a-summer-drought-can-be-a-struggle

Struggling with a summer drought is no fun, and keeping your plants quenched and happy can feel like a non-stop battle.

Don’t be a slave to the watering can!

Read on or watch the video for top tips on how to keep your garden healthy in drought conditions. They’ll save you time – and a lot of water too!

Watering

top-tips-for-saving-water-and-time-in-a-drought

Prioritise watering

When water is precious it pays to be prudent. Concentrate your watering where it is needed; young seedlings to help them establish, leafy salads to stop them wilting, fruit and vegetables like tomatoes, and anything growing in a pot.

Balance and speed

Using a watering can? Try two! One for each hand. It will help you balance and you’ll be able to water twice as quickly. If your water source is some distance from your beds, it also means less walking back and forth.

Another option is to use a portable tank, to cart water to where it will be dispensed.

Don’t blast your plants

A strong spray from a hose can knock plants about, or blast potting soil out of containers. Get around this problem simply by placing the end of the hose in a watering can so that it fills as you pour. This means you can water carefully and precisely, enjoying the convenience of a hose without wasting a drop.

Water from the bottom

Watering pots from the bottom, rather than the top, can save a lot of time and water in hot weather. Fill up a suitable sized reservoir, adding any liquid feed you’d like to apply at the recommended rate. Sink your pots into the water and leave them to soak up the liquid for at least an hour.

You can speed things along by adding a splash of water to the top of the pot before it’s left to soak. This technique helps ensure a thorough watering that makes very efficient use of your water.

Automate watering

An automatic irrigation system connected to a timer will take the strain out of watering. Set it to come on very early in the morning, before things heat up. The best set up to use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to deliver water is right at the base of your plants, near the roots.

Some can even be fitted to water barrels, so you can make the most of any rain water you’ve managed to collect.

Keep their Cool

droughts-can-play-havoc-with-seedlings-and-cause-young-plants-to-struggle

Drought can play havoc with seedlings, hampering germination and causing young plants to struggle. Here are a few ideas to help:

Success with seedlings

In hot dry conditions getting seeds to germinate can be tricky, particularly those of cool season crops such at lettuce. The solution is to wet the seed drill before sowing to give them the cool, moist surroundings they crave. Water along marked out drills, allow the water to completely drain away, then fill and drain once again before you sow.

Once you’re done sowing cover the seeds back over, but don’t water again until after germination. The moisture in the drill will drain through, encouraging the seedlings’ roots to follow.

Add some shade

Young seedlings, and cool season crops in general, perform better under the protection of some shading in hot summers. Prioritise shady areas for crops that prefer cool conditions, such as salad leaves. You can use taller crops to shade shorter ones, but in scorching weather drastic action may be needed.

Shade cloth can cast just enough shade to keep your plants happy in severe heat and can be easily removed when the weather turns cooler. Suspend it over plants to help them keep their cool.

Soothe the Soil

mulching-shades-soil-to-keep-it-cooler-and-helps-retain-moisture

Mulch around plants

Mulches are a must in any summer drought, and a mulch of organic material such as compost, leafmould or even dried grass clippings is best.

This extra layer serves two purposes; it shades the soil from the sun helping to keep it cooler, and it acts as a barrier to the sun, dramatically slowing evaporation.

How to apply a mulch

Thoroughly soak the ground before adding your mulch. If it’s exceptionally dry, water again a few hours later to recharge all that valuable soil moisture. Lay the mulch so it’s at least an inch (2 cm) thick and feed it right around all your plants.

Fruit trees, canes and bushes can be mulched with chunkier materials such as bark chippings, or fibrous materials like straw. Mulches may not be very high-tech, but they are incredibly effective in a hot summer.

 

If you have any tips for gardening in a hot, dry climate, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.