David Higgins' Blog
Many parts of the country suffer droughts from time to time. When there are water restrictions and less of a water supply available to you, how can you keep a green lawn and happy plants? You may have to make some sacrifices, but there’s some tricks to wait out the tough conditions. While you wait for the rain, there’s steps that you can take to help your plants and trees survive a drought. Here’s some tips for surviving a drought: Cut Back On Fertilizing When it’s dry, the salt in fertilizers actually dehydrates the roots of plants. Also, since fertilizers stimulate growth, your plants will require more water. It’s recommended that you stop fertilizing when there’s a drought or dry spell. Adjust Your Lawn Mower Keep your grass at an optimal height. This is usually between 2 and 4 inches, depending upon the kind of turf grass that you have. This will help the grass to preserve moisture. Water when you’re able to early in the day. Water From Overhead When you water your plants, water them from overhead rather than under the leaves into the soil. This way, water will continue dripping off of the leaves for some time throughout the day. Water Early In The Day You want to be sure that when you do water your plants or grass that you water early in the day. When temperatures are lower, the plants will take more time to dry, helping them to preserve water for a longer period of time. It’s better for the plants if the foliage dries before nightfall. Try Drip Irrigation Drip irrigation tubing hoses water much more efficiently than overhead sprinklers when it comes to gardens that are planted in rows or blocks. These irrigation hoses water slowly and evenly. This method is incredibly economical. It eliminates the waste of water. Don’t Use Cold Water Just like humans, plants don’t like cold showers either. If you have seedlings, they could actually die from “shock,” especially if there isn’t enough soil to absorb the water. Never water plants with ice cold water. Stick to tepid water when you irrigate your plants. Check Items That You Have Transplanted You’ll need to check your transplanted items daily, especially during a dry spell. If it’s hot and there’s a wind, it will be even more important to check your plants. These conditions cause the water that you do use with your plants to absorb more quickly. Be sure you water the plants that you have moved evenly and consistently so that they can survive a drought. It’s important to conserve water as much as you can. During drought conditions, remember that water is precious. These tips should help you to keep your lawn and garden as fresh as possible without wasting water.
If you plan to plant a home garden, it is important to start off with good soil. Both experienced pros and novice gardeners know that the condition of the soil is integral to success. Test The Soil Test your soil to determine the nutrient content and pH levels before you cultivate, plant or fertilize. You can obtain a simple pH testing kit from online garden supply stores or your neighborhood hardware store. If you want a complete soil analysis, take a sample of your garden soil for testing to you local county extension office. If you have a large garden plot, take random samples from several areas of the garden. For testing at the county extension office, place about a cup of soil in a sealable plastic bag. If you are submitting multiple soil samples, be sure to mark the bags to indicate the location in the garden from which they were taken. A large garden plot may contain soils that differ greatly from location to location. Established gardens likely have a history of fertilizer use or soil enhancement. A diverse array of nutrients, such as phosphorous and potassium, can build up in the soil. In this case, you are in luck. The only added growth-enhancing ingredient your garden soil requires is nitrogen. If you unwittingly added unnecessary nutrients and fertilizers to established garden soil, you can disrupt the pH levels and cause toxic accumulations of salts and other harmful ingredients to build-up in the soil. Conditioning The Soil If you are not blessed with organically rich, loamy, dark, moist, and fertile soil, you need to condition the soil if you want to produce optimum results. Your first decision is whether to practice eco-friendly organic gardening methods or to put your faith in chemical products. It is important to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of chemical versus natural fertilizers. The Advantages Of Organic Fertilizers Environmentally conscious gardeners prefer organic fertilizers that they feel are safe for people, pets, and the planet. However, plants do not know the difference between organic and chemical fertilizers; nutrients are nutrients, no matter the form. However, if you choose to “grow organic”, you will never have to worry about measuring, mixing and applying noxious chemicals nor will you be storing poisonous products in the garage or potting shed where they could be a danger to children or pets. Natural fertilizers are unlikely to burn tender, young plants in that they are not as concentrated as chemical formulations. In nature, as organic material decomposes, a natural fertilizer is created. When you apply well-aged herbivore manures (cow, sheep, horse, mule, lama, or goat) to the garden soil, you not only add nutrient-rich organic matter, you improve the soils texture and ability to retain moisture. Organic fertilizer costs less than expensive chemical products. If you live in a rural area, you likely have a kindly neighbor with farm animals that is happy to give you all the manure you can use. You can also start a compost bin to create your own organic fertilizer from grass clippings, leaves, shredded cardboard, landscape debris, newspapers, and household food waste. When you choose to use only natural products in your home garden, you can rest assured knowing that the fruits and vegetables you produce for the family table are free of noxious chemicals and potentially dangerous by-products.