Friday, January 4, 2013

Watering- The hardest part

(Pictures at the bottom)
I was reading other blogs, last night, and my opinion of my gardening abilities significantly changed.  The reason of my low opinion is because, last year, I watered for one to two hours in the summer and three to four hours (DAILY) in the fall.  The reason for the change is that we received a lot of rain during the summer.  It increased in October because I THOUGHT that my garden would be dead by Halloween and I wanted to see all my flowers before they go......

Up until last night, I didn't hear of other gardeners doing this, so I must have been doing wrong....well after reading other gardeners experiences I concluded that I did SOME things wrong but not everything.  

I read that other gardeners would have some of their plants die.  I planted literally thousand of plants last year (either by seed or from a pot) and 95% lived.  The only things that come to mind that died were delpheniums, petunias, and some of the wildflower seeds that I planted.  Everything else did just fine.  I guess my success rate was due to the amount of water I gave to the plants.  All that being said, I didn't want to do that this year.  I got burnt out.  Also, when care of the garden encompasses your day, you have a habit not to enjoy it.  I live on 15 acres.  It's shaped like a long rectangle.  There is a creek that runs the length of property but it's hidden behind a lot of trees and underbrush (I think that is sooooo awesome for the record).  I will eventually clear all the underbrush to see it..  Anyway, back on topic (my ADHD is showing).  

I swore that I would reduce my water time down to two hours TOPS.  I, also, learned that when plants have water, they flower.  

So how do I intend to reduce watering time?  These are my ideas...and I am open for comments and contradictions...I am a newbie and I know it.  There are many links on this page explaining what I am talking about.

1.) Irrigation systems-  This is such a boring task but, man, it makes all the difference in the world.  I had a front bed with Endless summer Hydrangeas, Encore Azaleas, Mexican heather and petunias.  In South Alabama the heat and humidity is so high, it could make the devil sigh.  I put in a Mister Landscaper watering system and a water timer.   I didn't have to full with them but only once in a while if I wanted them to have deep watering.   Again, boring work but I didn't have to fool with them again!  We have another well on the property so I am dedicating it to the garden.  We are putting in pipes and spigots all along the property this spring...this will be a god send.  I can put timers on the spigots and sit back.  I read a great tutorial on this this past month.  Irrigation Tutorial

2.)  Mulch- Mulch does conserve water but I have a preference of dark mulch over light.....the dark mulch (I feel) make the plant hotter so if I used dark mulch there was an irrigation system in place.

3.) Group plants with similar water requirements-  As mentioned I live on a huge property.  I have a quarter mile driveway and I wanted to see flowers all along the way....the problem with this is that the plants were so scattered that most of the time I spent changing directions of the water.  I learned that stoppers and splitters are awesome for this.  Before that I had to walk a half mile to change directions (quarter mile there and back) or I would kink the hose.  If the plants had been more grouped, the time would have been much less.

4.) Perennials shrubs and trees-  I planted a lot of ornamental trees and only watered them once a week (maybe).  They were okay with not getting as much water.  Grant you when I watered them more in the fall if I wanted flowers but they lived and that was what was important.

4.) Heat tolerant plants-  I mentioned earlier that my petunias died.  However, my MEXICAN petunias didn't.  I had many plants that didn't die....even bone dry in the containers.  They didn't flower until I did.  I have started using water globes and I am going to look into water crystals but the point is that they survived, if not bloomed, without me.  I have even heard of making "bladders" out of two liter bottles and pipes but that seemed a bit unsightly....what about a plastic bag bladder?  Will look into that.

5.) Put the right plant in the right place-  I planted plants in places that I knew they probably wouldn't do well.  As a result, I had to water.  Although, I have been surprised that what I THOUGHT was a bad place really wasn' many variables.  I am just suggesting that where you intend to plant there grass there?  or is it sandy or clayee?  I have some areas where the water table is low and the it floods when it rains....plants love it there..or at least some do.  Some plants (including wild plants) do well without me doing a attention to those.....

6.) Tropicals-  My mom gave me a bunch of plants...I had no idea what they were but I put them in the ground.  I watered them once a week at of them was a cassia..I, also, have hibiscus.  These did okay in the heat.  They didn't flower as much if I didn't water them but they lived.  The downside is that I didn't want to treat them as annuals and like the bougainvilleas I store them in the green house...I doubt I will buy more or the very least, will consider them annuals because my greenhouse gets packed fast.

7.) More than one way to get what you want-  As mentioned, I wanted to see flowers driving down the drive everywhere...but another flower in an area has marginal use....sometimes you can get the desired effect with less plants or different plants.  I had split in the drive that had wildflowers in it.  The ground was poor and the wildflowers very "messy" looking...I am okay with chaos but only in certain places.   So the drive split I turned into a fountain.  I, also, had a very sandy, hot, sloped curve in the drive that plants struggled...this year I am considering maybe a.) poles with hanging baskets b.) a very drought tolerant plant like whales tongue (I think its drought tolerant)  (c.  putting three hibiscus there vs. a whole line....just a couple of thoughts.

In any event, I am buying up evergreens in the next few weeks, and I have over 25 roses going into the ground in the backyard....I am going to do this right the first time....I am going to make beds and put irrigation systems in from the I can spend more time enjoying them and less time caring for them.

My regular petunias died but my Mexican petunias had no problem with the heat  behind them is golden rod...I didn't plant it's wild
The hydras hate the heat but you will notice in the back a black hose of the mister landscaper  irrigation system.  I planted these in February .  It looked like three inch stick in the ground...the water system worked REALLY well for them...they are on drip irrigation...the azaleas in the front of the bed have misters.
I am going to have to move these but I get a gold star for doing it right.  These are strawberries in a cold frame that I put a soaker hose in and its hooked to a timer. I have to move them because I want roses here but at least I am learning to address the water issue up front.
I had no idea what this was when I planted it but it's a's stored in the greenhouse for the winter because I heard it would may not..but I didn't water it very often.
I know the picture is fuzzy but these are the see a black hose and sprinklers if you look close enough.
Best thing that ever happened to me....I love water timers....I, highly , recommend them.
Beauty Berry growing wild on the property.  Pay attention to the area....what is growing..  We have a lot  of crepe myrtles in this much so, I didn't want to be like everyone else but it does give you an indication about what works well.
You have to pay attention to this one.  My husband had a huge (and I mean huge) clay pile here.  After he removed it, it still had a bunch of clay on the ground.  I threw a bag of pennington Cottage wildflower mix on top of the clay....pure clay!  I threw a bag of black cow manure on top of the seed.  I didn't fool with a whole lot during the summer.  In the fall I watered it and you are looking at 9 feet tall flowers....this is sulphur cosmos mostly the bottom is a bunch of zinnia.  Sometimes plants will grow on anything.

Bougainvilleas will not bloom if you don't water them but they will live.

This was my bougainvillea when I didn't water it.  It got huge but the soil looked absolutely dried.
After I started watering it, it started blooming

Tropicals and heat tolerant plants tend to need there is a downside to it.

This plant which I have heard called Indian Blanket was a remnant of the wildflower mix.  I have done literally nothing to it...but this was taken a couple of weeks ago (around Christmas).
I had tons of wildflower here that were unsightly and did poorly...I replaced it with two container plants and a fountain.

Camellias that I planted I only watered once in a while.  Low maintenance in the watering department.


HolleyGarden said...

I have a Mister Landscaper system, too. I love it! You have some great lessons here. Some I feel I'm still learning! :O And now I know why my bougainvilleas only bloomed sporadically for me last summer! I'm impressed with that mound of wildflowers, too.

Janie Jurkiewicz said...

Mine didn't bloom at all most of the summer and I didn't know why...I started watering them more even when they looked wet and they took off...What was amazing about the wildflowers I broadcast-ed them over solid clay and put a think layer of cow manure on top of them and they grew great....