The difference between a great garden and a mediocre one can be the methods and timing of water application. Many people overwater their plants more often than they underwater them. Call it “killing your plants with kindness.” The 2014 Old Farmer’s Almanac Canadian Edition (now available) gives you some recipes for watering in a timely fashion.
Water Less and Enjoy It More
Soak a Sponge: Container plants are among the thirstiest specimens in your yard. The mere exposure of pots, window boxes, and hanging baskets to the air above the ground promotes dehydration at a much greater rate than occur to plants growing in garden soil. Direct exposure to wind and sun hastens the drying process further. Placing a couple of household sponges in the bottom of the pot will help to retain moisture in the soil for longer periods of time, reducing the frequency of water applications.
Bottle Your Water: An empty plastic bottle provides an inexpensive method of applying water and frees you from standing at the end of your garden hose. Cut the bottom out of a 2-liter soda bottle, drill ⅛-inch holes through the bottle cap, and then recap the bottle. Bury it cap-side down in the soil within 6 inches of the root zone of a plant. Fill your soda bottle with water. The water will bleed out through the holes in the cap into the soil and be absorbed by the roots of your plants slowly, reducing the frequency of water application.
Wait For Wilt: When are your plants ready for a drink? Other perennials, such as veronica (speedwell), Shasta daisies, and annual sweet potato vine, begin to wilt before other plants in the garden do and provide a visible indication that the garden needs a drink. When you see the leaves of these plants beginning to wilt, wait for 4 or 5 days before you water the garden. (In general, most people rush to water more quickly than needed.) If it still has not rained, then set up the garden sprinklers and apply water in the early morning or late afternoon for a minimum of 2 hours.