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Posts Tagged ‘water’

This morning, one of the first articles I read on “Crosscut” was titled “To solve water pollution, Seattle turns to an old solution“, written by Samantha Larson.

This is what I’ve been advocating for years.  It is a Rain Garden concept.  Rain Gardens capture water coming from your roof, driveway, sidewalk, etc. and direct it into a garden specifically designed to filter the water, filtering it naturally and sending it into an aquifer, rather than the curb.  As I said in my “old” 2008 Rain Garden post, ” An effective rain garden depends on water infiltrating into the soil of the garden. They are actually miniature, temporary wetlands, planted with native plants.”  Do visit that post and read more.

Here is a sketch of a Rain Garden designed for use in a garden, but it is usable between a curb and the sidewalk with different plant materials.  This does give you an screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-9-03-11-amidea.  (The drawing is from an article done by Texas A&M on Rain Gardens.)

It makes profound sense to have these in our Seattle landscape.  They need not be large, every little bit counts!  Having them all along the curbs where the nasty water runs, is a grand idea!  It may not handle the entire filtration of the run-off, but it will surely do it’s part!!!

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Almost all our problems here at the Horizon House gardens involve water…in one way or another.IMG_0371

There’s a leak creating a flood; the hose has popped rendering water unavailable; the hose nozzle is broken; a spray emits from the sprayer going in the wrong direction, creating a very wet gardener; there’s water leaking across the deck under the planters creating a slippery spot, which is NOT good in a retirement community where some folks are challenged with walking; we need more folks to water pots and planters that are not individually cared for by an assigned gardener; there is the usual vacationer who either forgets, or neglects to get their garden cared for in their absence.  The list goes on and on.  All the gardeners know JUST what I’m talking about.

So, we can’t do without it, and yet sometimes we just get too much…or we get it in the wrong place.  WATER   We can’t live without it, and sometimes we can’t live with it.  Our plants?  Well, they need it, but administered correctly!

Why do they need it?  If they don’t have it, the little rootlets will dry up, no sustenance will get to the leaves, stems and trunk, and then?  A dead plant.

Here is a wonderful site that explains all the why’s and hows of water and your plants.  It comes from the University of Arizona Extension Service.

It tells about mulch.  It tells about over, and under watering, and the effects those will have on your plants.  It explains WHERE to water, and how much.  It’s worth a visit.

WATER is SO CRITICAL to every growing thing.  Without it, our gardens would be very sad places.  There certainly are plants that don’t require very much hydration.  Those are the ones we should try to get into our gardens.  Water is something we seem to be squandering.    It is important that our families have enough drinking water…but it is also important that we have food.  Every thing we consume is loaded with water.  So, almost everything in and  on our planet needs it.  It behooves us to use it sparingly, yet in such a way that it supports life-ours AND that of our plants.

I address water in my book as well.  It appears in the calendar section as well as in numerous stories.  It’s a very important aspect of gardening.  The book also addresses snow and ice and it’s affects on your garden.  Of course, in Seattle, we are not troubled too much with ice and snow, but it’s all part of the big picture.

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Most of the gardeners here at Horizon House are a bit tense these days.  With the scaffolding going up, IMG_3566and a rule forbidding entry onto the gardening terraces, gardens are having to do without water!  For any gardener, this is traumatic.  The gardens fall into that category as well, I might add.  So, what to do?

First we need to know a little about water and it’s relationship to our gardens.  Here is a wonderful article from Clemson Extension Service about water and how plants need and use it.

I remember, on my first trip from the east coast to Seattle, to visit our daughter and her family, she asked me to look at one of her shrubs.  It was sick, and knowing I was a Master Gardener, she had high hopes that I could diagnose the problem.

So, I looked, and the plant looked like it was needing water.  It appeared dry.  But, this is Seattle!  It rains all the time…and it was in February (rainy season).  What was it?  I racked my brain and couldn’t come up with any other thought.

She had gotten tickets to the Washington Flower and Garden Show here at the Convention Center, so I pocketed an affected leaf or two, and figured my first object would be to visit the Master Gardener booth, which I did.  Her comment?  “This plant is suffering from drought!”

“Come on,” I countered, “this is Seattle.  It rains all the time!”

So she patiently explained that yes, it did rain all the time, but it was a gentle rain, and it went no-where!  The rain tends to go no deeper than about half an inch.  Well, how about that?  I was right!

That micro-burst of water might be OK for annuals, with shallow roots, but the deeper roots of shrubs, trees and perennials need a deeper drenching.  And even the annuals suffer because although the roots get moistened, they too need a more satisfying drink.

It becomes a nasty cycle.  If plants are not watered deeply, their roots go where the water is…up, toward the surface.  They get a bit, but not enough water, and suffer more.

So, it is critical to water deeply, and gently so it doesn’t run off.  If the water runs too hard, it will just run off the surface and NOT down where it is needed.  Here is a photo I found on-line.  7441848-closeup-of-water-running-from-garden-hose-with-green-backgroundIt shows water running out of a hose. This is about the amount of water that should flow from your hose when you place it on the ground above the roots of the plant you want to water.  It is slow enough NOT to run off, but allows enough water to flow that your plants will be watered deeply.  It will not run off the ground, it will seep in, right where it is most needed.  Leave it to run for about 15 minutes.

Spraying water on your plants is wasteful of water.  If done at night, where the leaves will remain wet all night, it will make the plant vulnerable to disease and mold.  Most of the time, in our area, the leaves can get all the moisture they need from the air.  So, if you MUST spray, spray in the morning, when the sun will help dry off those leaves.

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