What about watering?
Last updated 5/17/2007 at Noon
I was going to talk some more about melons, but after this last hot spell I thought that the subject of melons could wait till next time. If you have planted everything that has been discussed, you will be ahead of the crowd for summer gardens. If you haven’t, then go back over the last couple of articles and plant as it has been laid out and you will be right in there. You still can plant spring gardens, or keep them going. I will go into how that will work a little later on.
We are have had three days of very low humidity (10%), with soaring 100 degree temperatures. Our rainy season has ended, and in Fallbrook irrigation is vital to vegetable gardens, as well as the landscapes, and lawns in general.
It is of vital importance that we mulch what we are growing. But we do have to lay down our drip system before we mulch. I am going to just touch on this lightly, this time and get into more depth on irrigation in the next article. I prefer to use 1/2 inch poly hose, with a good quality, pressure compensating dripper plugged in every foot. I space the lines so a 3 foot bed has two separate drip lines. I make a furrow, 3 -4 inches deep and lay the hose in the furrow. Then you can plant and mulch and hook up the water system later. Then water with a hose and sprinkler nozzle.
Water and water conservation is critical to living in this arid desert. Luckily we have some humidity to influence us here, but not much. I believe that mulch is vital to the plants health, to the environment (keeps the carbon in the soil), and helps us to
maintain a steady moisture content to the garden. Mulch can be straw, brought home in the trunk of the car, (I had a friend that used a Porsche for this). If you put a tarp down the straw will be easier to clean or vacuum up later. Bags of mulch are easier to handle, but more expensive. There are many good bagged mulches from bark to coco bark. I think you could put down a couple of inches of compost, sprinkle a good fertilizer blend then either a straw mulch or one of the others to give a good covering to the soil.
Most mulches are low in nitrogen, and will rob nitrogen from the soil and plants to breakdown. To offset, put on a broad based Organic fertilizer that has some nitrogen, alfalfa, kelp and phosphorus under the mulch to keep it from robbing the plants of
Anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of any mulching material spread so that the ground is completely covered is perfect. Stay a few inches away from the plants themselves. Mulch right next to the stems could encourage fungus growth. You will find that
without the mulch, it will be hard to keep plants from wilting, and they will not thrive as well, since you always have to be “Johnny on the Spot” to water when it’s hot or dry.
Look under the mulch every once in a while. It should be slightly damp, but not soggy. You should be able to reduce your watering needs quite a bit. With the price of water this savings should offset the cost involved with the buying and spreading of the materials. Use this same technique on the general landscape. It will keep it thriving and looking great all summer also. I think if this spring is any indication of weather, it could be quite warm this summer. Hope you are enjoying this delightful spring. It has been just glorious.