GARDENING TIPS: Dry Season
We have now officially entered what Dustin, one of our Gardeners here at Minnetrista, calls "the dry season." For the past few years we've noticed having quite a lot of rain during the spring months, almost too much to really be able to do many spring projects in the garden. However, as July rolls around the rain just disappears, as if someone turned off the rain switch.
This not only makes it hard for gardeners as we struggle to stay on top of any watering needs, but also makes it a challenge to do any projects in the garden or yard. Clay soil is great for holding nutrients and water, but when it dries out it becomes concrete-like.
One thing we do to plan for projects during this time of year is watch the weather. Sometimes we luck out and have an 80-degree day instead of a 90-degree day, for example. The cooler day is when you want to plant a tree or transplant your perennial. At home, my favorite time to work out in the garden is between 6 and 8 a.m. when it's cooler. I know this works great for us early risers, but for you night owls do the same in the evening when the sun starts to go down.
Those are ideal times to water. Of course, we focus our watering efforts on any annual plantings. Next, we worry about any new perennial plantings that we have put out this year. Next are trees and shrubs. Not only trees that were planted this year, but any trees we've planted two to three years ago. For the trees planted this year we check them once a week and if they are dry we really soak the whole root zone nice and deep. For the older (2-3 year old) trees we typically only water during "the dry season" and check them for water about every two weeks, unless we see signs of stress.
If I know we are going to tackle a project on a certain day we might run irrigation or a sprinkler in that area a day or two ahead of time to soften the soil. You don't want to create a mud pit, but having some moisture in the soil can really help you get all those weed roots out more effectively. If you don't want to waste the water then act quickly when we do get rain, pop out in the garden and get that project done!
One high point to weeding this time of year is weeds do not come back as quickly as they do in the spring with all that moisture. Yay! On a different note be aware that the bagworms are out in force right now, so remember to inspect any trees or shrubs that you've seen them on in the past! Happy gardening.***
Cassie Banning is the horticulture manager at Minnetrista, overseeing 21 acres of ornamental and natural areas, and is president of the Muncie Urban Forestry Committee and an ISA Certified arborist. She can be reached at (765) 287-3563 firstname.lastname@example.org.