Extreme Gardening Basics 2


Proper watering might seem very basic, but if done improperly it might be the one detail that will prevent your specimen from breaking a record. I can't express how important proper watering is to giant gardening. How well you water will greatly influence the ultimate size of whatever it is you are growing. Let your plant get too dry and not only will it stop growing, it will take a few extra days to get going again once it does have water. If you are going for size these stops and starts will definitely not help your efforts. On the other hand, plants with roots that are basically submerged will suffer a worse fate and will often die as they basically drown and can't get the oxygen they need.

When and how much you water will be determined to a large extent by your soil. The first thing you need to do is identify your basic soil type. Is it relatively sandy, a middle of the road rich loam or leaning toward too much clay? Sandy soils tend to drain rather quickly, that is you could water your plants in the morning, check them in the evening after a hot day, and find they need to be watered again. Although the plant might need water, be careful that you don't wash all the nutrients down to the sub soil. Sandy soil needs a lot of organic material or compost mixed in to help it retain moisture and nutrients.

A rich loamy soil will hold and maintain good water levels without becoming waterlogged. Typically, loamy soils are a good blend of sand, clay, organic material, water and air that is hospitable to worms, beneficial bacteria, and root expansion. Watering this type of soil will almost always need to be done less than sandy soil.

The last soil type is clay based, although clay can be very rich in nutrients, roots have a very tough time reaching them as clay is hard for roots to push through. Clay also doesn't contain any oxygen. Clay soils usually are very hard to correct and need extremely large amounts of organic material added to loosen them up. If you have clay soil all is not lost, you just have to treat it differently. Clay based soils will always need the least amount of watering as excess water doesn't drain away very quickly.

Lets' start with the young transplant that has just been started in the ground. If there was ever a time to make sure it has enough water now is it. A young seedling has a very small root system, usually less than a few inches. If the ground dries out now the seedling will most certainly die. Pay very close attention for at least the first week or two until the roots get established.

Keeping your plants properly watered without letting them get too dry or wet is a balancing act. Growers have gone to great lengths to maintain this perfect equilibrium. A great way to maintain a steady water supply are drip hoses. Drip hoses are made out of ground-up tires that have millions of tiny holes throughout the hose. These hoses are especially effective in that they deliver a slow and steady supply of water instead of a large amount all at once. Some growers install timers that deliver a predetermined amount of water.

Another great way to keep moisture levels from fluctuating too much is mulch. Mulch is one of the most valuable techniques you can utilize while growing giants. Used effectively it will keep moisture and temperature levels much more constant than bare ground. You can use most anything, but my favorite is shredded up hay or straw. To make this really effective, mix these together with some compost and/or grass clippings. That way whenever you water, the nutrients will wash down into the root zone. I usually mulch at least 4 inches thick. Make sure that your mulch does not touch the stem as constantly damp mulch can contribute to the introduction of fungus.

If at all possible water in the morning. While it's not that bad to water in the evening, damp ground night after night could increase the chance of disease. I always try to make sure the ground is dry before night.

A lot of growers use moisture meters. If you don't have a clue whether the roots have enough water 8" underground you might want to get one of these. I am a little more old school, every now and then I'll use a hand trowel to dig down a few inches to check the moisture level.

Lastly, I want to stress a really important point about watering: Always but always water with warm water. I do not mean hot, I mean not cold. Water that comes out of most taps and hoses is usually at 55 degrees. What do most people do when you spray them with cold water? Cold water is almost as bad as too little water. It's another stop and start you are trying to avoid.