Thursday, May 17, 2012

Watering your Plants


Up to 60% of the human body is water, for plants it can be as much as 95%. Water is essential from the moment seeds are sown through sprouting to the end of the growing season. Plants need water for cell division, cell enlargement, and even for holding themselves up. It even dissolves fertilizers, carrying nutrients to different parts of the plant.  If the cells don’t have enough water in them, the result is a wilted plant. However, there are times when water is not what a wilting plant needs. When plants are growing fast, the leaves sometimes get ahead of the roots’ ability to provide them with water. If the day is hot and the plants wilt in the afternoon, don’t worry about them; they will regain their balance overnight. But if plants are wilting early in the morning, water them immediately.

Ideally, water for plants comes from rain or other precipitation and from underground sources. In reality, you’ll often have to do extra watering by hand or through an irrigation system. The best time of day to water is early morning before the temperatures begin to rise. This gives the plants a good supply of water to face the heat of the day. Early morning also tends to be a time of lower winds and thus reduced evaporation. If watering cannot be done in the early morning, very late afternoon is also satisfactory. It is important to water early enough so that the leaves have time to dry before nightfall to avoid development of fungal diseases.

For established plantings, deep, infrequent watering is recommended. In most cases, an inch of water per week (rain plus irrigation) should be sufficient. Applying that inch of water in one deep watering will encourage deeper rooting, which leads to stronger, healthier plants. Shallow, frequent watering, on the other hand, will lead to shallow root systems and high water loss through evaporation. With shallow watering, such as light frequent sprinkling, you actually end up wasting quite a bit of water and still don’t meet the needs of your plants.

You also have to keep in mind how long your soil retains moisture. Clay soils hold water very well, but sandy soils let the water run right through. An inch of water penetrates about six inches in a clay soil. Let your hose run for a while, then dig down with a trowel to see how deep the water went. If it is less than six inches, the hose needs to run longer.

Also I found this neat quiz where you can test your Garden IQ. I surprised myself by getting a 63%. I honestly thought I would do much worse, I guess I am learning more quickly than I thought....Try it for yourself HERE!


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