16 July 2018

Reducing Water Use

Drip irrigation main line and drip line
It is only mid-summer and the gardening season will continue well into October. Pruning, watering, deadheading, weeding, and planting for the fall, will keep gardeners busy. 

We are also in the season of outsized water bills so it’s time to consider how to minimizing use in the garden. 

Try to apply moisture at soil level rather than overhead which evaporates it by half.  Drip irrigation systems are available in a wide range of prices. Soaker hoses work well too, and usually last two years. We  also use metal irrigation bubblers for areas that need to be soaked or deep watered. 

Water young trees at drip line
A summer-fall garden should be planted now. Tomato, pepper and herb plants are available but use seeds to plant zinnias, basil, cosmos, cucumbers, sunflowers and marigolds. Water new seed beds with the mist setting on a hose attachment. 

Oklahoma State University fact sheet HLA-6009 at http://osufacts.okstate.edu has tips on what to plant now.

Any tree that is less than a year in the ground  should have supplemental water. Identify the longest branches of the tree.  Using drip or soaker hose or a bubbler, water the area at the end of those branches. That area is where water drips off the branches during rain so it is where the tree’s roots are. A soaker hose wrapped in a circle at the drip line is effective.

Water early in the morning or evening to reduce evaporation and so the plants’ leaves are dry by nightfall. Water deeply to encourage the roots to grow down into the soil away from hot soil surfaces. Container plants can be grouped for a drip system. 

Foliar feeding is the exception to the general no-moisture-on-plant-leaves rule. Water-soluble fertilizer can be sprayed on the top and bottom of  plant leaves as a nutrition boost. Apply foliar spray at the coolest part of a windless day. Use a watering can rose or sprayer with the finest mist available for maximum absorption.


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