Garden lore

“A well-watered lawn will look great for a week or two, but you will have created a rod for your own back because it will start to expect another dousing. Grass is a tough plant and can survive very long stretches without water. No matter how severe a summer drought, no one’s lawn in Britain has ever died from lack of water. It can survive up to eight months without rain.”

The Curious Gardener’s Almanac by Niall Edworthy (2006)

Summer watering

Readers who have gone for the raised vegetable garden beds should be discovering a major disadvantage around now. Raised beds need a whole lot more watering in dry conditions because they dry out much more quickly than the ground below. Container plants dry out even faster.

Ideally, evening watering is better than morning watering because the cooler night temperatures allow for better absorption. A spray of water is preferable to a jet. Making many slow passes over the surface rather than flooding it allows for better penetration by the water. A good deep watering every few days is much more effective than merely passing over the surface each day. Dig down a little to see how far the water has penetrated. If it is only the top few centimetres, that is where the plants’ roots will be concentrated, making the plants even more vulnerable to drying out.

If you allow your container plants to get too dry, watering becomes ineffective because the water just flows straight through and is not absorbed at all. If the container is too big to sit in a bucket of water for at least 20 minutes, then a small squirt of dishwashing detergent on the top before watering can help absorption without harming the plant.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.