Gardening

Everything in your yard needs water right now, even compost piles

My rule is not to write about rain or snow because invariably I get blamed for making either occur. In fact, in some circles, any mention of weather from me is considered a harbinger of change for the worse. Even as I sit down to write this, clouds have formed and it threatens to rain.

Well, any rain in the forecast isn’t going to take away from the fact we are officially experiencing a drought, so maybe this time I can mention our lack of rain without it being followed by a deluge. Simply put, your yard needs at least one inch of water a week between you and Mother Nature. Since she is not chipping in, it is all up to you. Fortunately, we live in the rare area of the country where there is not a water shortage to have to consider — yet.

At the start of each season I point out that Yardeners should able to reach all parts of the property with a hose. And, I try to encourage watering by insisting hoses not leak and that there are quick connects on all hose ends and watering tools. I push the lazy to get traveling sprinklers and the very dedicated to install outdoor hot water taps to enable them to better keep soils from cooling every time hoses are used.

Usually, it isn’t a big deal if you don’t take my advice. Now, however, it would be a good idea to follow through. It isn’t difficult and if we really are in a drought, it could be important.

Let’s start with lawns. You know my motto: “If you water, they will green.” Watering is all you should have been doing since the season started. Well, it isn’t time to fertilize now to perk up your lawns; it is time to start watering them or keep watering them.

Here is the deal: If you have hose that reaches every corner of your yard, you have enough to act as track for a traveling sprinkler. Coupled with a timer, you will save so much time and effort not having to move your sprinkler around that I guarantee you will ask yourself why you didn’t follow this bit of advice before. Get a traveler.

And, you might consider aerating your lawn so watering will be more effective. Even better, consider skipping mowings —Mowing Savings Time, again — so the grass blades can recover from their previous shearing.

And finally, it is OK if your lawn isn’t as green as it is during the normal rainy times that usually make up Alaska weather. My father’s philosophy was that if a plant needed special care to survive, it wasn’t worth growing. Your lawn doesn’t need to be green. It can go dormant only to green-up when it does start raining. Of course, you might want to water your lawn anyhow because this waters tree and shrub roots, too and they could use a hit of water.

Don’t forget your compost piles, which need moisture. As a measure, you should be able to squeeze a handful of your pile and get just a drop of water. Covering your pile will help retain more of its moisture during dry times.

Finally, mulches help retain moisture. It helps to make sure it gets thoroughly soaked once a week, so they do more than merely hold moisture in and give more water to your thirsty plants.

And, when it does rain, don’t blame me.

Jeff’s Alaska Garden Calendar

Events at The Garden: There are so many things going on at the Alaska Botanical Garden from Mud Day to catered picnics. You simply must go to www.alaskabg.org and look around. There is something there for you and your family.

Flamers: Let’s be responsible and not use weed flamers until we get more moisture and the open burn bans are all gone.

Stake: Lots of plants need staking, those that vine and those that get tall and can be toppled over by a good wind or a rain if we get one! Peas and delphiniums, for example.

Aphids on plants: Wash off with a hard jet of cold water.

Jeff Lowenfels

Jeff Lowenfels has written a weekly gardening column for the ADN for more than 45 years. His columns won the 2020 gold medal at the Garden Communicators International conference. He's authored several books on organic gardening; his latest is "DIY Autoflowering Cannabis: A New Way To Grow." Reach him at jefflowenfels@gmail.com.

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