By Brent Gray
As we move into the summer months, your garden will need consistent attention to maintain its beauty and health. One of the most important elements in keeping your garden healthy under a hot sun is watering. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming, though, and can even be very easy.
One of the most efficient methods of watering is drip irrigation. This system requires the use of a soaker hose that supplies water through porous tubing by lying directly on the ground next to the plants. Since the water is delivered at very low water pressure, it’s quickly absorbed by the soil with a minimum loss to runoff or evaporation.
Soaker hoses are economical and easy to place around plants. You can secure the hoses in place by making large “hairpins” out of old wire coat hangers. Place these over the hoses and sink into the ground to secure. Then you can hide the hoses with a layer of mulch—don’t forget to leave the end of the hose visible so you can connect it to the water source.
Your soaker hose will work best with the tap open only a small amount. Twice a year, clean your soaker hose’s pores by turning the water on full force for 1 minute and then off again. Repeat 3 times, then remove the end cap and flush the hose to remove remaining debris.
The consequences of our cold, wet spring are still being realized. Reports of squash plants breaking under windy conditions may be traced to weakened, constricted stems from damping off diseases when the plants were seedlings. Several reports of tomatoes and peppers wilting and dying could have links to restricted root growth and/or diseases induced by wet conditions. Almost everyone is two weeks or more behind normal in plant maturity and harvest times. The good news is the sunshine is hitting plants regularly now and temperatures are close to normal.
Pumpkin growers should have their seed purchased by now. Planting time is the first week of July for most varieties and the last week of June for people who want the largest possible pumpkin. Our warm nights work against us growing 1,000 pound behemoths, but 100 pound jack o’lanterns may be possible if the sun shines and the night temperatures cooperate.
Gardeners planting large fruited tomatoes now should be using heat tolerant varieties. Most garden centers have plants specifically labeled for setting in warm temperatures. Cherry and grape tomatoes are not as sensitive to high temperatures and do not require changing varieties now.
Be very careful using glyphosate (Roundup, Eliminator, Eraser and many other brands) around tomato plants. The sensitivity is eight grams per hectare or about a ninth of an ounce per acre to cause yield losses. If you use glyphosate in your landscape be sure to thoroughly wash the sprayer with soap and water and be sure to spray soapy water through the system to remove it from the lines and nozzles, then wash the outside of the sprayer.
Newly established lawns require large amounts of water to grow, but are sensitive to over watering. Make sure the root zone remains moist, but not flooded as much as possible. Newly sodded yards may require two or three irrigations a day the first week and may require