View from the Garden: Watering and Cleaning Up Your Garden

Avoid overwatering your plants this summer—too much water depletes nutrients.
Avoid overwatering your plants this summer—too much water depletes nutrients. Photo credit: ShannaJane/iStock/Thinkstock

Yesterday was the first day of dripping sweat. Heat is my main vexation of summer, and that’s not a good thing for a gardener. I don’t like it and do not get used to it. Now that we are finally moving into the hot weather, attention must be paid to water in pots and gardens.

I think some irrigation companies have set the timers to supply more water than has been necessary based on the long-term weather forecast. I have seen a lot of “water weeds.”  I watch the beds that I maintain and talk to the irrigation people to keep the amount of water properly regulated. Systems need to be monitored by zone if you have irrigation, or by bed if you water by hand.

Plants thrive based on the soil nutrition and by the amount of water they get; too much and too little is not good and it is often our tendency to over water. Too much water often depletes soil nutrition.

Water should, in most cases, be applied when the soil is dry on the top 1 1/2” – 2.” It is best to water deeply and infrequently. Plants indicate too little water by wilting; they indicate too much water by turning leaves yellow. And if you see the soil in a pot staying wet, as if it had recently been watered, check to see that the hole in the bottom is not clogged.

Reading the label on that beautiful something you have seen at the garden center (that plant you simply must have) supplies important pieces of information “height and width at maturity, light requirements and moisture requirements…” When you get this beauty home, plant it where it will have what it needs and give it (and yourself) a good chance to succeed.

This has been the week of cleaning up the last of the daffodil and other spring blooming foliage. (You left the foliage in place until it was brown, yes?) And there are so many of them! Who would think that those swirls and giant patches of spring blooming plants, so eagerly awaited, would leave such undesirable residue for so long! But, if you do not leave it, your bulbs have no chance to rejuvenate themselves for next year. If one considers this when planting, bulbs can be placed where the leaves will be unobtrusive and in a place where they will not fall onto a neighboring plant and lay there until it is time to remove them i.e. in beds of ornamental grasses or hostas. But then…there are all of those other places.

Be sure to remove spent peony flowers and any buds that look like they are not going to bloom and any foliage that looks “sick.” Peonies are subject to fungus. I have read that there are organic sprays to combat it. I just remove anything that looks bad and keep the soil surface clean. It is also good to plant them in a place where they will get good air circulation. But then…oh that place that needs a peony…

I hope you are continuing to check for great annuals and perennials at the garden centers. They bring them in at their peak of bloom so if you see a plant there, now is the time to plant it. Keep it moist in the heat.

Some of those holes left when you removed the spent spring bulbs could be filled with a
must-have annual…

Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener, landscaper and consultant. For gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067.


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