The weather is hot and dry, has been for weeks, with no rain in sight. Flower baskets are looking bedraggled, gardens wilted and limp ... Many of you are having a hard time keeping things adequetly wet without breaking the bank with your water bill.
Here are some tips on what to water, when to water, how often to water, and how to water effectively. And what else can you do daily or weekly, as things start to look a little bit peaked from the heat.
My moss basket in the front doorway, on the hot south side..
I spray this basket (and the others) all over, from top to toe and side to side daily ...
What to do DAILY?
Watering annual flowers....
- Water all flower baskets and planters, in the morning, if possible. If that is not possible, water later in the day, after the hottest part of the day is done...
- Spray down the foliage and the flowers in the baskets and pots, from top to bottom, as you water. This helps to rehydrate the plants and to rid yourself of any aphids or other undesirable bugs... I do this daily. However, if you water in the evening, do not!! spray down your foliage or you will get powdery mildew real fast! In the evenings, water at soil level only, try to get in an early watering at least once a week so that you can hose down the entire basket/planter.
- If you have moss baskets, soak all sides of the moss daily, drench the top and sides of the basket over and over again, till it is sopping, dripping wet.
- Water all pots and baskets till you see water dripping out the bottom, water the rest of your pots, and then go give them all yet another round of water! That is how you ensure that the water is actually penetrating through the soil, and not just running down the sides.
To rehydrate a dried out basket, pot or planter ... If your pot, planter or basket has dried out, the water will not actually penetrate into the soil, but will instead run down the sides of the hard packed, dry soil, and out the bottom. If your water seems to run out the bottom real fast, the plants are looking wilty, the foliage has brown edges or plants are dying, your soil has compacted into a dry ball that regular watering will not penetrate. The easiest way to rehydrate and rejuvenate is to pop the entire basket/pot into a pail or bucket of water (add liquid seaweed!) and leave for several hours, even over night. If they are too big, like my moss basket in the picture above, or too heavy, then you will need to go over it time and time again... soak it, water other plants for 10 minutes, soak it again, water others for 10 more minutes, and then soak it yet again. You may need to do this many times, but it is possible to save that lovely basket or planter and have it looking fine again in just a week or two.
Watering Veggies ...
- Water tomatoes in pots daily, only if needed! If you are growing them in super large pots and they are not drying out daily, then water every 2nd or 3rd day. If you over-water your tomatoes, you will have bland, tasteless tomatoes!
- Peppers in pots should only be watered about once a week. Keep them dry and lean or they will not thrive, plus your hot peppers will be sweet and have no heat! Do not feed the peppers more than maybe once a summer.
- For all the other veggies in pots, water when soil is dry when you stick your finger in.
- Water any newly seeded garden areas daily, also ... new seeds cannot dry out while in the germination process, even for a day, or they will die!
- Hose everything off with a strong jet of water or a hard rinse as you water. Only do this if and when you water in the mornings! Evening watering promotes powdery mildew, fungal issues, and slugs, esp if you wet down the foliage!
- Remove any flowers or leaves that look strange or twisted.
- Pinch off any foliage that begins to yellow, get spotty or otherwise does not look good.
- Ensure that your plants have good air flow, are not all stuffed in together, esp if you evening water.
- Do NOT water in the evening, and if you find that you have to, make sure that you water at ground level and do not wet the foliage. If your foliage goes into the cooler nights damp, you will get powdery mildew and other fungal issues!
- Deadhead all flowers to keep them blooming, thriving and happy.
- Remove any foliage right away that begins to yellow or brown or does not look good.
- Pick veggies daily to keep them producing!
- Bring in cut flowers for your vases as often as you can to keep them blooming in your garden.
Harvest goodies daily to keep the plants producing!
What To Do TWICE a Week?
- Water your raised beds or garden beds twice a week, every 3rd day, or so... Just the stuff that grow on top of the ground, like cucumbers, tomatoes, squashes, herbs, lettuce, etc... not the root veggies! Give them a really good soak, a deep soak to get them through the next three days till your next watering.
- Your newly germinated fall and winter garden is likely fine now to water every few days rather than daily.
- Water your roses, especially potted ones, as they like to stay moist in order to continue blooming and thriving. As they are very prone to both powdery mildew and black spot, make sure to water at ground level only. Blast with water, as needed, to get rid of bugs, but never in the evening.
How To Water...
Do NOT just do a light little sprinkly watering! You know what I mean .. with the nozzle set on shower, going back and forth over your foliage, watering the leaves, getting everything shiny and glistening, but getting very little water where it belongs, at the root level! Do NOT use a sprinker! This kind of watering does not water at root level and will give you sick plants, little production and lots of fungal issues.
DO do a deep watering, a heavy soak to promote healthy deep root systems that are able to withstand times of drought and heat! Water with the nozzle set on flood and go slowly along the soil, deep watering the roots of the plant, not the foliage. Or better yet, turn on your weeping hoses twice a week, the water will slowly burble in at root level and you will have no issues with mildew and rot.
Crystal Apple heirloom cukes and asst zucchini's.
What To Do WEEKLY?
- Water your pepper plants and eggplants, soak them well.
- Water the root veggies and anything that grows under ground rather than on top... carrots, beets, onions, potatoes.. Too much water will make these guys rot, or tasteless. One inch of water every week or two is plenty.
- If you are having persistent bug issues and do not have lots of lady bugs and good bugs in your garden helping you with the control, you may want to use a Safer's Soap type spray, made especially for plants once a week for three weeks in a row. (I do not advocate the make yourself as they are less effective and may actually burn your foliage!). First hose off the bugs with a strong jet of water as best you can, and then spray with the Safer's Soap. You may want to go along 15 minutes later and hose it down again. This is not necessary, but it does remove the soap from the plant, allowing it to take up sunshine, etc.. better, and washes off any dead bugs or lingerers.
- Your flower baskets are now full of foliage and flowers so they need nutrients now, more than ever. Feed them weekly to keep them flowering and thriving. using a fertiliser with a higher middle number, like a 15-30-15.
- You may want to throw in another handful of slow release fertilser now , too (just once) to keep things happy for another month or two.
- Feed your tomatoes and garden beds with liquid seaweed, or manure tea, or compost tea, or an organic granular tomato/veggie fertiliser that you work into the soil.
What To Do Monthly...
- Mulch your beds, your tomatoes, your roses, etc.. with compost, manure, grass clippings, leaves, etc... to help keep the moisture in.
- Top dress your pots and beds with compost, manure, bone meal or blood meal, etc.. to feed those veggies.
- Scratch 1 or 2 Tbsp of Epsom salts around your tomatoes, peppers, and roses.
Harvest, enjoy, grow...
Do not stress about things you cannot change.If something bolted or died, pull it out, gone and forgotten. Squash producing male flowers only, you can't change that, is a maturity thing, the females will come. Let nature take it's course.