Carson Arthur offers watering tips for your garden during this dry spell
New and long-time gardeners have been put to the weather test.
Two weeks ago, many nights of frost had those in outlying areas racing around covering plants, and now the chaser is exceedingly drying winds and lack of rain.
With water conservation at the top of mind, if you, like me, are on a well, you may be collecting every drop.
I dump my dehumidifier on my thirsty plants. The dishwater too, goes onto the roots of sad, parched shrubs.
Gardening guru Carson Arthur says prepare for arid conditions for some time to come.
"All of the early predictors including the Farmer’s Almanac are saying that the summer ahead of us is going to be a hot one," says the garden expert, author and TV host.
"That means we are going to have to look after watering our outdoor spaces and water conservation is a priority all across the country. When it comes to watering the lawn and the garden, there are some many myths and facts floating around (pun intended) that I thought it might be time for a refresher for all of the homeowners and gardeners out there."
From his home and business in Prince Edward County, Carson’s Garden & Market, Arthur told CTV News at Noon viewers the best way to conserve water.
Water at Dawn not Dusk
"The best time to water your plants and the lawn is not at dusk, it’s only at dawn. When we water at night, the leaves of the plants have less opportunity to dry off fast, promoting fungal growth in our plants," said Arthur.
"The worst offenders include powdery mildew and anthracnose, which both need damp leaves and warm temperatures to invade a garden."
How much water do your plants need?
"The proper amount to water the yard varies because your plants all have different needs. During the cooler months, your lawn needs approximately one inch of water per week. The best way to measure this is with a rain gauge, but if you don’t have one, 20 minutes of watering from the sprinkler three times a week is about right," said Arthur.
"During the hot summer months, your lawn needs twice as much water. Two inches per week in July and August is the best way to ensure your lawn stays as green as possible. There are a few plants that flower all summer, but you’ve probably noticed that you get more flowers early and again heading into fall. This is because these tend to be cooler months and there is more moisture available to the plants.
"When your plants are in bloom, they often need more water, which is partly why most of our gardens are in flower in May. When it comes to the plants, most of your garden perennials need two inches per week. This is a general rule of thumb only!"
Tomatoes and Peppers Need Water
"There are hundreds of varieties of plants that do very well with less water and many that require more. Your vegetable garden is a perfect example," said Arthur.
"Veggies need the most amount of water in the yard, coming in at 2.5 inches. To be successful with your tomatoes and peppers, be diligent and water often in the early morning and keep the moisture on the roots instead of the leaves."
Carson Corrects a Watering Myth
“There is one more myth I want to address. I promise, there is no such thing as sunburnt grass or plants. Watering in the full sun has been shown to have no impact on your plants. Growing up I was taught that the water droplets would act as little magnifying glasses and scorch the lawn," said Arthur.
"Even though this is a complete myth, it does serve a great purpose. We should never be watering in the full sun because it’s a waste of water. More water is evaporated when exposed to sunlight before in gets to the roots and on hot and sunny days, you need twice as much to water to care for your plants."
Know how to read your plants
"The best answer, water your plants when they need it. They will give you signs of stress like brown patches, wilted leaves, and drooping flower stems. The better you pay attention…the happier your garden will be," said Arthur.
Arthur is not a fan of fan watering systems. He prefers sprinklers that rotate, reducing evaporation.
In the embedded video he demonstrates self-watering systems that he thinks reduce water waste.
Xerophytes are our friends
And if you are looking for drought-resistant plants, Carson’s spreading word about reliable xerophytes. Often plants with "xerophytic adaptations" have grey foliage and require small amounts. Carson suggests you think of fields of lavender in the south of France.
Xero is the Greek word for dry. Carson suggests looking for plants that do well in the Mediterranean and deserts around the world. These plants are hardy during dry weather.
Xerophyte is also a great Scrabble word for your repertoire. Just saying.