Remember Your Roots
So here we are into the first week of May and gardening season is in full swing. We have spent the last months working in our beds, amending our soils and weeding, weeding, weeding. Well it’s all worth it, because now, we plant!
Around the area we have had the opportunity to go to a few plant sales in April and find those unique plants we so long for. Every nursery we go to is still fully stocked with bright, showy plants just begging us to take them home as the newest stars of our gardens. Once you get them home, be sure to plant your plants in the proper location. Give them their proper sun/shade requirements and allow them room to mature. And most importantly after they are in the ground…remember your roots.
The roots, the parts of the plant that you can’t see, play the most important role in plant success or failure. The plants that you buy from plant sales, nurseries, garden centers etc… have basically been babied. They have been raised and cared for by professionals under ideal conditions. They have been raised to sell. Once you have them at home and in the ground, their roots are still only the size of the container that they came in. These are the same roots that are accustomed to being watered everyday. It is essential for you to get water to these relatively small root systems until they mature and adapt to their new environment.
Here’s the catch, rainfall alone is not going to cut it.
Before yesterday, we went 14 days without measurable rainfall. Even though we had 5 inches of rain last month (2 of which came down in one day), April is on average our second driest month(2.44 inches) and May is on average our 4th driest month (2.77 inches). This is not nearly enough water for a plant that has a limited, container shaped root system. You will need to supplement the rainfall by either irrigation, hand watering with a hose or BOTH. Irrigation systems have their place, but they can be inefficient when used to water brand new plantings and wasteful of water when not monitored and adjusted on a regular basis. I prefer the hand watering method. When you hand water, you are in control of the water. You can make sure the water is directly targeting the roots and being used to benefit the new plants as much as possible and not just running off the top of the soil or hitting a target not intended to be watered (i.e. sidewalks, driveways etc.).
Watering by hand puts you in the middle of your own dynamic garden space where things are constantly growing and changing. The time spent watering can also serve as a time of monitoring the space for potential problems such as insects or disease that can be cared for much easier if caught early on. Most importantly, the extra time spent in the garden watering adds to the sense of pride and ownership as you see all your hard work grow and flourish. So get back to your roots, good things will happen.