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Liquid Refreshments

By Amanda Whatley Owen

web posted June 7, 2018
GARDENING - H2O, two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom also known as water, is the number one resource needed for all living organisms to survive, including plants and grass! 

Water helps transport nutrients down to the root systems of all living plants.   If you're one of the folks who have an irrigation system, then your summers are pretty easy when it comes to watering, but there are a few of us without an irrigation system, that have to water our lawn and garden the old fashioned way. 

Whichever technique you use to water, there are tips in this article that just might help you.
While there is a difference when it comes to watering your lawn, compared to watering your flower and vegetable garden, there are a few similarities.  Here are a few key points.  For instance, the best time of day to water is early in the morning.  You can even water as early as 4am, though most folks that water that early have a timer on their faucet or sprinkler system.  Personally, I am not getting up that early to water, but as long as you give your lawn and garden a good soaking before mid-day sun beams down on it, you're safe. 

When you water early and let the water really penetrate the soil, this tells the roots to stay low in the soil and drink, and to not surface the soil looking for water where they would dry out. 

Another general rule of thumb for lawns and gardens are generally an inch worth of water each week.  Though, in our area I would suggest during the hotter summer days, to monitor your areas and supply your garden and lawn with two inches of water, due to the extreme heat South Carolina can tend to have.
Another tip to keep in mind is setting your mower height to a higher level, so as not to scalp your lawn.  This helps shade the root system, which reduces evaporation, and that also helps keep those water-stealing weeds our of your lawn. 

Each year, keep the thatch racked out, which is all those dead matted roots and other dead material in the lawn.  Remember clean plants makes happy plants, this also applies to your lawn! 

Lastly, be sure to aerate the soil, which is to poke holes all in your yard to help water access the roots quicker and easier, especially after a cold, harsh winter.   
As far as the garden, flower beds, and potted plants, your containers will always need more water than plants planted in the ground because being contained in a pot restricts the plant from getting water from natural soil in the earth. 

The first sign of a distressed plant needing water is, of course, wilt.  Try not to let this happen too often because this can, over time, kill the plant.  When the leaves and blooms of the plant sag or lean down, be sure to soak the plant.  Try not to let this happen too often because this can, over time, kill the plant.
A common mistake some folks make is when they see the plant sagging and leaves falling off they think the plant needs more water, but really, the plant can be "waterlogged", meaning there is too much water standing on the roots of the plant.  This causes the plant to rot.  It will need to be dug up, and replanted with peat moss and sand mixed in, to help dry out the roots in hope for the plants survival.
If you are late watering your garden vegetables and flowers in the mornings, try to avoid wetting the leaves of the plants and just soak the soil.  A plant with wet leaves can get scorched by the sun and cause the plant to burn up.
Lastly, the best way to help contain moisture to the plants, making your watering a little less of a hassle, is to add mulch, hay, or even pine straw around the plants to help lock in the moisture so the sun is not beating down on the soil robbing it of it's moisture.  In your vegetable garden, I would suggest mulch or wheat straw and try to stay away from pine products, because of critters that can overtake the crops.
Don't forget to keep yourself hydrated!
Next week in Mandy's Friendly Garden, we will learn about the summer time favorite, Venus Fly Trap.

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