I attended a Master Gardener's class last night, and came away with even more great information. There is nothing like continued learning to make you realize how much you really don't know after all.
The topic was Native Plants & Water Conservation. Important for any gardener, conserving water should be on everyone's mind. There were some easy tips offered, that could save water and make improve our gardens. Here are some highlights:
- Watering and care is actually for the roots of a plant. Water as deeply as that plant's root system is.
- Starving a plant for water to *make it root deeper*, is a wive's tale. Roots will seek water, so if you water shallow, they will stay shallow.
- Plants need water AND oxygen to grow properly. This is why your soil composition is so important. Clay soils=less oxygen.
- Roots help the overall soil composition because they constantly grow and die, leaving spaces in the soil.
- Depth, width and overall health of a plant's root system will determine how efficiently it uses water.
Why is this important for we herb gardeners? Because although we think of herbs in terms of taste and smell, the real gardening should be the care and feeding of what you don't see: The roots. Water conservation is an essential part of root care. We accomplish this in a few ways:
- Grouping herbs by water requirements. Water loving plants go with water loving plants.
- Watering deeply and thoroughly when first planting, making sure to water completely every time.
- Mulching at least 3 inches to help conserve moisture in the soil.
- Watering at optimum times. This is generally considered to be the hours of 4 and 10 am. These times are when the winds tend to be quiet and the sun is not high in the sky to evaporate the water before it has a chance to soak into the soil.
The takeaway from last night's class, is that to water efficiently means watering smarter. The end result is a healthier garden and less work for the gardener.