Deal­ing with ir­ri­ga­tion

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING - WALLY RICHARDS

Cur­rent weather pat­terns mean keep­ing gar­dens wa­tered hasn’t been a prob­lem.

Things will change when dryer con­di­tions pre­vail.

Ef­fec­tive wa­ter­ing is more than sim­ply con­nect­ing a hose and sprin­kler sys­tem to a tap and turn­ing it on.

Al­though that works to a point, it can also cause prob­lems. For in­stance, run­ning ir­ri­ga­tion for any pe­riod of time will wash away nu­tri­ents ap­plied to feed the gar­dens.

Us­ing a hand-held wa­ter­ing wand in­stead to ap­ply a suf­fi­cient amount of wa­ter to moisten the soil, will en­hance any pro­vided nu­tri­ents and waste none. Be aware that chlo­ri­nated tap wa­ter con­tains a chem­i­cal that will kill ben­e­fi­cial soil bac­te­ria and dev­as­tate the earth­worm pop­u­la­tion.

If will also kill the mi­crobes liv­ing on fo­liage which help pro­tect the plant from leaf dis­eases.

The so­lu­tion is to at­tach a 10 mi­cron car­bon bonded fil­ter to the gar­den tap.

This will re­move the chlo­rine from 16,000 litres of wa­ter.

The best time to wa­ter is first thing in the morn­ing. This will help com­bat any wa­ter stress brought on later by the heat of the day.

‘‘Ef­fec­tive wa­ter­ing is more than sim­ply con­nect­ing a hose and sprin­kler sys­tem to a tap and turn­ing it on.’’

If wa­ter­ing be­comes nec­es­sary dur­ing a hot sunny day, make sure it’s the soil be­ing wa­tered and not the fo­liage.

Wa­ter droplets can mag­nify the sun’s rays and burn bits of the leaves. Use ei­ther a hand-held wand, a drip ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem or the good old soak hose.

Us­ing a wa­ter­ing wand means gar­den­ers can rou­tinely check plants for prob­lems.

Aphids, leaf hop­pers, scale, mealy bugs, white fly, psyl­lids, and veg­etable bugs can be spot­ted dur­ing wa­ter­ing rounds.

Some in­sect pests can be squashed, while weeds can also be dealt with.

A jet of wa­ter can be used to blast in­sect pests from the leaves of es­tab­lished plants, shrubs and trees.

Re­peat­ing this a few times could al­le­vi­ate the need to spray. Grow­ing veg­eta­bles in rows means there can be fur­rows be­tween them which can be flooded with wa­ter.

This mois­ture goes di­rectly to the root sys­tems, re­duc­ing mois­ture losses from evap­o­ra­tion. Ma­nures and other good­ies can also be sprin­kled along the fur­rows. To fur­ther re­duce any mois­ture loss, use mulches to cover wet soil. Sec­ond best ir­ri­ga­tion op­tion is later in the evening.

The disad­van­tage here is when night­time tem­per­a­tures drop, this mois­ture can lead to mildews, es­pe­cially if sus­cep­ti­ble plants such as peas, pump­kins and pan­sies are grow­ing closely to­gether.

Only give the soil and plants suf­fi­cient mois­ture to get them through the next day till the fol­low­ing evening.

On hot sunny days make sure con­tainer plants get a thor­ough soak­ing. Hang­ing bas­kets should be plunged into a tub of wa­ter once a week and wa­tered nor­mally on the other days. Al­low gar­den soil or con­tainer mix to be­come too dry and sur­face ten­sion will cause wa­ter to run off in­stead of soak­ing in.

To break this sur­face ten­sion, lather up dish­wash­ing liq­uid in a con­tainer of warm wa­ter and ap­ply over the dry ar­eas.

It’s also good for treat­ing dry spots in lawns. Prob­lems ring me 357 0606 Email: wal­lyjr@gar­de­news.co.nz Web site: www.gar­de­news.co.nz

GRANT MATTHEW/ FAIR­FAX NZ

Not all wa­ter is cre­ated equal nor are all wa­ter­ing meth­ods.

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