With the swing in temperatures and humidity being what they are this season, plus the lack of rain throwing us into a severe drought, gardening has become quite a challenge.
You have seen your plants becoming stressed, lawns going dormant. You are watering and like every farmer in the Midwest, praying for some much needed rain.
Well, let's look at what we have been doing and try to work with the weather we have been handed.
If you have been watering all your plants daily in the evening, remember that high humidity doesn't allow for much evaporation. The air is already overly moist and with the lack of a cool wind, the soil isn't drying out. A good growing potting soil is made to quickly absorb water and then dry out. It is loose and allows oxygen to flow around the plants roots which the roots need to function correctly. If your potting soil is kept too wet, the roots will soon begin to rot and the plant starts to wilt because it cannot absorb the water that is needed. When this happens, we think the plant needs more water, and then we are compounding the problem, when it really needs time to dry out.
The number one plant killer is over-watering. It is easier to bring back a dying plant from under-watering than over-watering. Over-watering can be more hazardous to our plants health than making them go with out water.
How to identify if our plants need more water. Feel the soil; not at ground level, but below. I use a wooden dowel about 12 inches long and push it halfway into the soil near the roots. Leaving that hole open and push your finger into the hole and see if it is moist.
If it is moist, you will not need to water at this time. If it feels very dry, then lightly water the plant. If it is somewhere in between, give it a day off from watering and check again the next day. Leaving the hole accessible the remainder of the season.
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