By Brent Gray
The cooler than normal temperatures this summer may lend themselves to a planting of green beans. We normally don’t plant fall green beans until September, but the cooler soil and air may allow a green bean planted now to grow. Remember that asparagus or yard long beans are a good hot weather substitute for green beans.
Pumpkins may be blooming now. You may entice honeybees to the garden by providing a source of water. Bees need water to cool the hive and will visit a bird bath, puddle, wet clothes or other source of water when the landscape is dry.
Bell peppers, tomatoes and other solanaceous fruit naturally get small as the plant ages. The size diminishes gradually. The tomato that produced 12-ounce fruit in the first cluster should produce eight ounce fruit in the third cluster and six ounce fruit in the fifth or sixth cluster. If your bell peppers go from four inches in diameter to two in a week you may need more fertilizer or water.
Plant Care During Drought
Keeping landscape plants watered during a drought can be a chore, but with a little planning and forethought it can be easier. Be aware of the symptoms of water stress. Wilting and discoloration of foliage is the primary symptom. Trees and shrubs may lose their leaves in an attempt to reduce water loss through transpiration. Wilting that occurs during the heat of a midsummer day is common and temporary; don’t fret about it. But, wilting that extends beyond the heat of the day, in particular wilting of a plant in the early morning can indicate a serious water shortage.
To prevent water stress before damage to the growth of the plant occurs you should try to anticipate water needs and supply water when there is a lack of rainfall. Keeping the water supply consistent is the trick to good plant growth and is also the challenge. Some tips for making the job easier and more efficient follows:
When watering always water deeply to encourage deep roots that are more resistant to drought.
Applying mulch 3-4” deep around all plants and in landscape beds will conserve moisture. Using soaker hoses or installing a drip irrigation system is more effective than using overhead sprinklers. Benefits to using a drip irrigation system are less water loss to evaporation or runoff and it saves time. Because the water doesn’t touch plant leaves, the chances of moisture-related disease occurring is reduced.
Finally, a drip irrigation system reduces soil compaction. Since drip irrigation releases water so slowly, compaction does not become a problem. Drip irrigation systems, as well as soaker hoses (the poor man’s system), does cost more than a watering can and installing a quality system requires a little effort, but is easily accomplished for most do-it-yourselfers.
Horticulture tips: David Nagel