Recharging Your Summer Garden: Nutrient Boost and Regulated Hydration Tips
- June 2, 2017
- By Farmer Craig Witt, Full Circle Owner, Soil Enthusiast
- Categories: Healthy Living, Sustainability
April has delivered its showers, May is blooming with flowers, and June … well June shows off our sun’s power. At the peak of growing season, plants will begin to feel the high desert heat, along with the pressure and the utter exhaustion from growing at such an outstanding rate. Help them beat the heat with regulated watering methods, proper nutrition and mulch.
Accurately watering your plants can be challenging without proper knowledge of soil, climate and other planting factors. As a general rule, too much watering can lead to suffocation of the roots, while too little watering can deplete the soil and roots of essential hydration. Different vegetables need different watering routines, but no matter what you’re watering, routines are influenced by a few characteristics of our arid climate:
- Our soil does not have the “digestive capacity” to eat raw materials. That means it needs to be fed a lot of all-natural compost and other natural soil amendments to develop (and maintain) humus as a nourishing environment for your plants.
- Living in the Truckee Meadows valley, we see a decent amount of wind. Strong winds can interrupt watering from sprinklers, and increase plant evapotranspiration, which deprives your garden of essential hydration.
- Our high desert sun can be a real scorcher, and that calls for regulated watering methods.
So, how much water is too much or too little? It depends on the soil you’re working with. Clay soils retain water, causing the water to spread out horizontally. If watered too frequently, the moisture will deoxidize the soil, resulting in a weaker root system. To avoid this, plants in clay soils need to be watered less frequently than plants in loam or sandy soils. Sandy soils have a noticeably di cult time holding in water, this could spell dehydration. After watering, the moisture tends to run straight down and out of the soil. Loam soils are considered ideal and are a mixture of sand, silt and clay. Loam soils have a better balance of holding nutrients than any other soil, and are best suited for high- demand vegetables and fruits, like tomatoes or strawberries.
Green Thumb Tip: Using raised beds and filling them with a sandy clay loam soil can take the soil variable right out of the equation. Raised beds also aid in proper drainage to avoid “over watering.”
Northern Nevadan soils are primarily clay – surprise, surprise – so it lacks balanced essential nutrients for proper growth. As we discussed in previous articles, gardening in Nevada soil takes a little time, a little patience and a whole lot of love. Growing a healthy garden includes sustainable soil food provided by quality compost, long-term nutrition through minerals and regulated watering methods.
Drip irrigation systems are a great method for regulating hydration, keeping your previous plants evenly moist. Depending on where you have your plants growing, the timer, the emitters and duration of watering will vary. Plants in small pots, for example, should be watered daily for brief amounts of time (no more than 5 minutes). For small shrubs planted in the ground, the timer should be set for about 30 minutes. Small trees need to be watered every few weeks for 4-6 hours. This can be accomplished with a deep drip- watering stake. Note: These watering times are approximate.
Below are the most common types of irrigation systems:
- Porous Soaker Hose System: Typically used for shrubs and hedges, this system is extremely porous (hence the name) and basically sweats water along the length of the hose. Because this system is made out of recycled automobile tires, they are naturally durable.
- Emitter Drip System: The emitter drip system is commonly used when planting in clay soils. This system consists of several hoses that are laid out throughout the planting area. Each hose has holes about 15 inches apart, which release drops of water according to the timer. You can also add different types of emitters to individual plants with this system. This allows you to change the flow and amount of water to individual plants. You can throw on micro emitters, big emitters and even flood irrigate plants. Green Thumb Tip: Full Circle likes this system in Nevada if you want an automatic system. You need to learn a little bit more about irrigation systems; however, this system can pay off. Dripworks.com is a great resource for information and supplies.
Your Hose: This is the old school way of watering ( flood irrigation). Just use your hose. Depending on how you set up your garden, this method is great for “deep watering.” Let the hose fill up an area with 1-2 inches of water that will soak deep into the soil. For example, if you leave a 2-inch “lip” around your raised bed, you just put the hose in, let it fill up the bed, and you’re done. Many of your garden plants ( flowers are different) actually do not like to get watered often with little amounts of water. They like to get a lot of water less frequently. You want to get the water deep.
Green Thumb Tip: This is the best method for tomatoes. Soak the beds or areas where the tomatoes are with a big dose of water once ever 3-4 days. If you have the proper soil and mulch, with deep watering, you can water once every 3-4 days even in the middle of Nevada summers.
To encourage drought tolerance, use fertile, organic mulch on top of your soil. Think of mulch as a natural, moisturizing sunscreen, it protects soil from harsh climates while saving important nutrients from drought. It suppresses weed growth! Plus, it protects and stimulates the beneficial soil microlife, which leads to better nutrient absorption.
Recharge Your Garden:
Step-By-Step Summer Garden Recharge
- Add 1⁄4 inch of all-natural soil amendment (Full Circle BOOST) to the soil surface of your garden to boost mid-summer nutrition.
- Add 1 inch of fertile, all-natural mulch to the top of the compost to hold in extra moisture.
- Water 1-2 inches “ flood irrigation style.”
- Ooh and ahh and your rapidly growing garden!
A Note On Summer Lawn Watering:
Many lawns, especially bluegrass, fescues and ryegrass, dry out during the heat of summer. But there’s no need to panic. Slow and consistent watering will keep your lawn alive. Low frequency longer duration watering builds deep roots. Refrain from watering every day and wasting water. Give your lawn about 2 inches per week.
Step-By-Step Lawn Maintenance
- Sharpen the blade on your mower.
- Mow lawn as needed leaving it 3 inches high. Never cut more than 1⁄2 of the total grass height at one time.
- Redistribute lawn clippings across area with a mulching blade.
- Add an application of 1⁄4 of all-natural soil amendment over the lawn. Water it in.
- Water lawn with 1.5-2 inches of water per week.
- Watch your lawn green up and hold more water in the hot summer months!
Ensure your summer garden is properly hydrated and strengthened for the Northern Nevadan summer. Humus holds 6 times its weight in water! Each cubic yard of Full Circle’s BOOST contains over 300 pounds of additional minerals and wholesome ingredients plants need to stay healthy and maintain consistent growth.
We’ve shared this information to help you create a more sustainable and nutritious garden this year for your family. Please reach out to us with any questions, tips or tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.