Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

June 15, 2011

In This Issue
Intelligent Irrigation
Veggies Need More
Coping With Containers
Competitive Nature
Blooming, Not Burning
A Hose By Any Other Name
Taxing Time For Turf

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Feature Articles
~All About Composting
~All About Mulch
~Houseplant Care
~When to Start
Seeds Indoors
~Seed Starting Indoors
~ Vegetable Garden Calendar
~Seed Starting Tomatoes


Shrub Pruning Calendar
~Pruning Clematis 
~Gardening in the Shade
~Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
~Drought-Tolerant Flowers for KC
~Preparing for a Soil Test
~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
~Growing Herbs
~When to Harvest Vegetables
~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
~Organic Pesticides & Biopesticides
~Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~When to Divide Perennials
~Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~Overseeding A Lawn
~Pruning Trees
~Pruning Shrubs
~Planting Trees
~Deer Resistant Plants
~Trees that Survived the Storm
~Stump Removal Options for the Homeowner


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This Week's Phots


It is just another beautiful day in Kansas. Low humidity, not too hot and a slight breeze. Perfect for doing anything outside. Kind of like last Saturday. What a treat! I had a tennis social early that morning and was surprised by the chill in the air. I actually had to put on a jacket. The jacket didn't last long once I started moving but boy, what a day it was. Tennis in the morning and lots of gardening in the afternoon. Pretty much sums up my idea of a perfect day.

Last week I talked about getting all of the mulch spread and I am happy to report that I am closer to being done. I still have a couple of beds where it is just sitting there, waiting to be spread. I've decided that it's not going anywhere so I'll get to it when I get to it. This is when it pays to have a big party (aka motivator) on the calendar so that everything gets done in a timely fashion. I kills me to say it but I am a procrastinator. If it doesn't need done right away, then it gets done when I feel like doing it. I'm getting too old to be so uptight about everything. Every year I grow older I care less and less about everything being so perfect. We all have our own ways. There's no right way or wrong way, just our way. Wouldn't you agree?

The good news, summer arrives in just seven short days! Oh, good, I was worried we were going to skip all of those really hot, humid days (Note the sarcasm).
~ Shelly
Intelligent Irrigation...
Many of us are lucky enough to enjoy the convenience of an automatic irrigation system. With some simple practices and new technology, existing irrigation systems can be made more efficient, lowering your water bill, reducing run-off and eliminating waste. Waterwise habits will result in a healthier lawn and landscape, in addition to conserving water.

The Irrigation Association has provided us with water-saving tips to maintain and update automatic irrigation systems. Read Fine-Tune Your Irrigation System To Save Money and See Better Results now.
Veggies Need More...
watering can

We've stated in the past that most gardens require one inch of water per week. As the weather heats up however water consumption for a vegetable garden will gradually increase up to two inches of water per week and then taper off again as the weather cools. Remember that it is imperative for you to water deeply once or twice a week. Watering a little bit every day is just not good for the plants.

Other watering tips for your veggies:

  • Concentrate your watering in the root zone. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems are great methods.
  • Related to the above, try to minimize watering of leaves. This will help prevent disease.
  • Water in the morning between 6:00 and 9:00 AM. Midday watering wastes water. Evening watering may lead to plant disease.
  • Keep the garden well weeded to eliminate competition for water.
  • Use mulches to aid water retention in the garden soil.
Coping With Containers...

potted plant

Container plants (those in pots, window boxes, hanging baskets, etc...) are the first to be affected by lack of water. Since the container itself is exposed on all sides the sun and heat cause the limited amount of soil to dry up much quicker than in a garden. As a general rule you should water containers until the water drains out the holes in the bottom. During the summer it is not unusual to do this two or three times a day. 

Competitive Nature...


Don't let grass or weeds grow beneath your trees and shrubs. They compete fiercely for available water and will slow the growth of trees, especially newly planted ones. Worse yet, the longer turfgrass grows under trees and shrubs the greater the reduction of new growth. Left alone a cumulative effect may decrease tree growth for several years. For instance, if the growth of a tree is reduced by 20 percent for one year because of grass competition, the growth automatically is 20 percent less during the second year's growth. Grass competition alone reduces tree and shrub growth by as much as 50 percent.


Blooming, Not Burning...


Different flowers have different watering needs. The one inch of water per week rule is a good start but it's always best to keep an eye them. Look for the telltale signs of drought stress including wilt, droopiness, and the premature loss of foliage and/or blooms. Like vegetables your flowers will benefit from deep and infrequent waterings. Also, a couple of inches of mulch will do wonders to help retain soil moisture during the hot sunny weather.


Another good long-term strategy would include greater use of drought tolerant flowers. A list of these water efficient marvels (suitable for the Kansas City area of course) can be found here...


A Hose By Any Other Name...


Hoses are easily the most common means of getting water to your gardens and containers. Most gardeners give little thought to their hoses until it's time to replace them. If you are replacing a hose or just interested in a new one take a little time and choose one that's best for you. Like most tools, hoses are available in varying quality levels with prices that usually follow. Hoses come in different diameters but 5/8-inch is the most popular. Different diameters deliver different flow rates and this may be an important factor in your choice. Use this table to assist in sizing. 


Flow Rates from Different Hose Sizes and Water Pressures
Pressure1/2 inch5/8 inch3/4 inch1 inch
20 psi4 gpm8 gpm12 gpm26 gpm
30 psi5 gpm9 gpm15 gpm32 gpm
40 psi6 gpm11 gpm18 gpm38 gpm
50 psi7 gpm12 gpm20 gpm43 gpm
60 psi 8 gpm14 gpm22 gpm47 gpm
Flow rates are in gallons per minute (gpm).  40 psi is typical water pressure for most homes.



Taxing Time For Turf...


For many of us our lawns are the single biggest users of "gardening water". Unfortunately excessive watering is wasteful and can actually be harmful to your lawn. If waterings are too light or too frequent the lawn can become weak and shallow-rooted, which in turn makes it more susceptible to stress injury. To make sure you get it right use the following steps to determine the amount of water your sprinkler or sprinkler system puts out and check its distribution pattern at the same time.

  • Determine the rate at which your sprinkler applies water to the lawn. 
    • Set out three to five empty cans in a straight line going away from the sprinkler. Set the last can near the edge of the sprinkler's coverage. 
    • Run the sprinkler for a set time such as 1/2 hour.
    • Measure the amount of water in each can. 
    • Each can will contain a different amount of water. Usually, the can closest to the sprinkler will have the most water.  The sprinkler pattern must overlap to get an even wetness of the soil.  Use this information to find out how long it takes your sprinkler to apply 1 inch of water.  For example, if you find that most cans contain about 1/4 inch of water after the sprinkler runs 1/2 hour, it would take 4 x 1/2 or 2 hours to apply 1 inch.  
  • Run the sprinkler long enough to apply at least 1 inch of water or until runoff occurs. If runoff occurs first: 
    • Stop sprinkler and note running time. 
    • Allow water to soak in for 1/2 hour. 
    • Start sprinkler. 
    • If runoff occurs, repeat above steps until at least 1 inch of water has been applied and allowed to soak into the soil. 
  • Do not water again until the lawn has completely dried out. (This usually takes 5 or 6 days.) 
    • Apply enough water to wet the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. 
    • Avoid frequent light applications of water.
    • Water in early daylight hours. 
    • Select a turfgrass with a low water requirement. 
    • Avoid using soluble nitrogen fertilizers. (They promote high growth rates which, in turn, increase water requirements of the plant.)



"Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet with charm of earliest birds; 

Pleasant the sun when first on this delightful land he spreads his orient beams on herb, tree, fruit and flower."

~ John Milton

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