Hello from the Garden

Did you know that plants are made up nearly completely of water? This time of year watering is a crucial job in the garden. The hot sun and strong winds can seriously dehydrate plants causing them to wilt and even die. Happily, plants are very resilient and with a little care and attention, they will bounce right back.

The first task is knowing when plants need water. An obvious sign is when the plant or its leaves are drooping! (This is the celery plant we propagated by cutting off the bottom and sitting it in water earlier in the term).
Looking at the compost can be another clue. As it dries out, it goes a lighter colour, as you can see with the plant on the left. Also Plants in pots feel lighter as they dry out so lifting them will give you another clue.
Sometimes drastic. action needs to be taken and you will need to submerge the plant to rehydrate it. When you start to see bubbles in the water, and literally hear the plant drinking, then you’ll know you’re on the right track. Think about it! If you’re parched with the thirst, you’ll want a good long drink rather than a little drop now and again.

So, a few tips to follow:

  1. When you water, think like you’re imitating rain. Not a deluge which will flatten the plants and cause run off, but a soft gentle shower that soaks into the soil. So move back and forth between the plants giving the water time to soak in.
  2. Soaking the plants thoroughly once or twice a week is better than watering a little bit every day. If the ground is soaked and the top couple of inches dries out, the roots will grow down into the soil looking for water. However if only the top couple of inches are wet, the roots will stay on the surface and the plant will quickly dehydrate and possibly die if the soil dries out.
  3. Watering early or late in the day, gives the plants time to absorb the water before it evaporates in the heat.
  4. Roots need air to breathe so don’t leave plants sitting in water for long periods of time other than when you’re rehydrating them.
  5. Don’t presume because it’s rained that pots and baskets have been watered. This is usually not the case, so check your containers.
  6. And finally, plants can also die from overwatering which is why watering is such a skill in itself. In wintertime and when the weather is cold, plants use less water. So again, when you’re deciding whether or not to water, check the colour of the compost, feel the weight of the pot, and of course, look at the plant itself!
Once it got a good long drink, the celery plant straightened up overnight. It’s getting ready to go into flower now. When it does, I’ll enjoy the flowers and then collect the seed.