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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017

Garden wisdom or something else?

Posted Sunday, August 19, 2007, at 7:12 PM

One of our little visitors.
Wouldn't be great if you could transfer your thoughts straight to the page while you are thinking it? No need to remember your brilliant ideas until you get to pen and paper, or in this case keyboard. Wow! I had some great thoughts while watering the few plants in our garden.

Now let's see how much I can remember because in between we moved our daughter to her apartment for college, ate a big lunch, and went through the lethargy that comes from eating too much. Here goes.

While trying to sustain the few annuals, vegetables and perennials we have, I thought about the conventional wisdom of watering. Water from below to conserve water and avoid the proliferation of molds and diseases that come from water on the leaves and splattering of soil-borne bad guys and then it hit me.

Actually it has hit me numerous times this summer as I repeated the watering ritual. Nature rarely waters from below!! Sure the roots take up water, but the leaves do too. Plants that have hairy leaves were somehow holding their own in this drought, when plants right next to them were dying. I presume it is from their ability to gather moisture from the dews.

Each time I water, I certainly try to conserve the precious liquid, but I started noticing how many insects and birds were showing up at watering time. After the leaves got wet, they would come in for their drink. The hummingbirds would fly into the spray and hover or sit on the plant I was watering.

Honey bees (a rare sight lately) were gathering on the water lily pads and stepping up for water. A black snake was laying half in and half out of the water. Wasps, bees of all types, butterflies were coming in to enjoy.

I now water the leaves as much as the soil. I let the water drip, as it would in a rain to the soil below. Of course I do so in the morning so there is plenty of time to dry off, but the plants AND the insects are bouncing back. Plant leaves are cleaned by rain as well, so this method of watering provides and extra benefit.

Do I waste some water? Maybe, or maybe my plants get more use from what they get than drip irrigation. I never have figured a precise way of judging that method either, so ..

Your thoughts?

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Sick of watering myself but Im still doing it. I don't water any bulb plants that have been around for more than a year or so. From what I understand they establish a better rooting system if they have to basically serch in the ground for moisture. Everything seems to look like crap this year no matter what it is. Sure hope next years better!

-- Posted by Disgusted on Mon, Aug 20, 2007, at 12:14 PM

There are several theories on time of day. My father never wanted us to water in mid-day saying that it would somehow burn the leaves. OR at least that is how a young kid remembers it.

Most say to water in the morning or with enough time for all the leaves to dry off before nightfall. Wet leaves tend to promote mold, mildews and disease.

In wet humid weather, I see where that makes sense. In the heat and dry weather we are experiencing now, I am not sure that it matters too much. The leaves seem to dry off quickly either way.

Watering late in the day would reduce the amount of evaporation and give the water more time to soak in. It is also more comfortable, unless you are a mosquito magnet.

My wife goes out after 5:00 PM and bingo, she gets bitten. Probably does not help to have body lotion, etc. on but.......

Anyway, water with enough time for the leaves to dry.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Aug 21, 2007, at 6:30 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.