We’re at mid-August and summer heat and humidity has finally hit Connecticut. Now’s a good time to discuss a few watering and water conserving techniques. Soil dries quickly in 90+ degree heat so it is really important water container plants daily. If you must water at night, make sure you only water the soil – not the plant. The same goes for any plants sunk in the ground. Spraying plants – and grass for that matter – at night only creates an environment for fungal diseases which like it hot and wet. The current humidity level in CT is more than enough to encourage such plant diseases – don’t add to this by watering plant foliage late in the day. It is really best to water plants in the morning, and might be worth the effort – especially if you want healthy looking plants throughout August – to get up a little earlier so you have time to water.
Since our water comes from our own well, I tend to watch our water usage during the summer months. A couple of my water conserving tricks: keep a gallon or larger jug (I save large plastic vinegar jugs) under the kitchen sink. When running water, say to get it warmer or colder, use the jug to collect the water that would normally go down the drain. Use this water for house or outdoor container plants. If you have a dehumidifier, save the water from this to use in house or container plants. Also, use water from boiling corn or pasta to water specific moisture hungry plants – such as hydrangea which, like the one in the photo here, can still send out new blossoms even later in the summer season. You might be surprised how much water you can collect simply by paying a little extra attention to your normal usage.
A handy technique to ensure water reaches the root system of ground planted vegetables is to sink a 2-quart size tin can (the kind used for canned juice) into the ground. Before doing so, cut off the top, and use a hand held can opener to poke one or two triangle-shaped holes around the lower rim of the can. Once sunk in the ground – with the holes facing toward growing plants and, ahem, the open end upward – you can fill these cans with water which will seep into the ground at the root level. This technique is a good way to water plants deeply, and the cans also make a great reservoir for compost tea or other liquid fertilizer you want to deliver to plant roots. Some people use plastic jugs, with small holes poked in the lower portions, to drip water to plants. But I find the sunken cans less visually obtrusive.
Do you have water conserving techniques you can add to this list?