As drought reveals itself in the Pacific Northwest, we watch our typical lush, green surroundings turn shades of tan. Just like the hot weather, watering the garden is a hot topic.
Here is what water-wise gardeners should know: The obvious…plants need water.
The less obvious, how they get it and survive. Watering the leaves to cool off the plant probably feels like you are doing something good for the garden, but most of the time, little water gets down to the roots. Think of it like this: imagine you are thirsty and instead of taking a drink of water, you take a shower. You might feel cooler, but it does not satisfy the thirst. That is what it is like for plants; they need water in the soil and around their roots to allow the plant to get water to the stems, leaves and flowers. How do you know if you’ve watered enough? Hand check
It can surprising how much time it takes to get water to the needed depth of soil.
Water the garden as you normally do and wait about 10 minutes. Then check your garden’s soil moisture.Take the gloves off and push fingers into the ground around your plants in different areas of the garden. Dig in with a trowel too.
In an area with sufficient water, the soil should be thoroughly moist after each watering…all the way down to the root zone. The top 2 or 3 inches of the soil may be semi-dry, but the soil below that should be moist to a depth of 5 to 6 inches or more. Get down deep
Established plants also need deep watering to keep roots far down into the soil. If they are given water only at the surface, they get lazy and don’t have to work hard for their water. In periods of drought, shallow-rooted plants can’t stay cooled by the soil, so they stress and wimp out. Hanging out with a hose spraying a garden bed or the lawn for 15 minutes just doesn’t do it. It might settle the dust for the day but does not get enough down into the root zone where plants need it. Instead of daily, light water, do a good weekly soaking that allows the soil to become wet to a depth of 6 inches. If your system of watering, either sprinkler or by hand does not do this, adjust to a once a week deep watering to ensure good subsoil moisture that is consistent. Just because it is hot, doesn’t mean you have to water every day. Container gardens are the exception! Plants in the ground need to get the available water from the soil before watering again. Deep water will help roots grow deep. Maybe it’s your soil
Improving your soil’s moisture-holding capacity is as simple as mixing organic compost into your beds. Depending on the type of soil, more organic matter means more water is accessible to plants. Dense clay particles rob most of your soil’s moisture, decreasing the amount of water available to plants while sandy soils drain water too quickly for plants to absorb it. An amendment can help the soil structure of both clay and sandy soils for more efficient water holding.
In warm weather, water in the morning to give plants a chance to drink up before the hot sun and the wind evaporates moisture. If you can’t water in the morning, try for late afternoon, but not too late. The foliage should have time to dry before the sun goes down to help protect plants that are prone to fungal diseases. Powdery mildew and spider mites love to thrive in warm weather AND moisture. Mulching Matters
Mulch reduces water evaporation by helping to trap moisture on the ground during dry times of the year. Use a good organic compost to help nourish the soil in planting beds. Spread up to 4 inches deep all over landscape beds. Do not pile mulch near the base of plants, keep it shallow to avoid rot. In established planting beds topped with bark, occasionally rake the old mulch to break up the soil surface. A good raking (not scraping) to fluff the surface of the soil will help water penetrate through. Brown lawns are okay.
By the way if you have joined the ranks of the brown lawn brigade, all is well. The heat and lack of moisture have pushed it into dormancy and as soon as natural rainfall returns it will bounce back with vigor. Just don’t allow heavy foot traffic or the dog to tear it up too much. In the spring as it actively begins to grow again, pay extra attention to keeping it healthy.
Basil, it’s not just for pasta! Not too perfumy, floral or girly, basil is the perfect herb to use in skin care blends for men.
Basil nurtures skin with essential oils that have an earthy, tonic ability to calm skin irritations and blemishes. Its green, spicy aroma has a reputation in aromatherapy to uplift and ease anxiety and tension. Use this basil water to heal skin blemishes and ease irritation after shaving.
Basil Tonic Water
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a glass sauce pan. Remove the pan from heat and add a handful (at least 3 to 5 leaves) of fresh basil. Cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Discard the basil leaves from the water by filtering through cheesecloth.
To Use: Saturate a cotton ball with the basil water and wipe over face and neck. Gently pat dry.
My gardener’s heart knows that to every seed there is a season before it fruits.
But there are times when I crave a fresh dose of greens and can’t want to wait for a harvest from the garden.
Sprouts are fresh spice for any time of year. They are low in fat, filled with vitamins, minerals, protein and are ready to eat in about a week.
I grab a big pinch of them and eat them as a snack. You can also toss them in scrambled eggs, use in place of lettuce on sandwiches, add to salads and wraps, and garnish the top of hot soup just before serving.
Alfalfa is the most common, but there are many that add unique flavors and textures.
Broccoli: a nice radish-like bite of flavor.
Chia: a bit of a tang, but much like alfalfa sprouts in texture and flavor. Clover: similar in flavor to alfalfa sprouts. Fenugreek: a mild curry-like flavor, exotic flavor,
yummy in chicken wraps. Lentils: a bit of peppery flavor Mung Bean: the texture is nice a crispy. Pea-like flavor. Radish: much like the flavor of the vegetable, it will spice up any dish. Sunflower: a nutty flavor, yummy on a hot cup of tomato soup!
Use a clean glass canning jar with a sprout screen as the lid.
Clean, and rinse jar to clean well.
Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of seeds to the jar
Place a fine mesh screen on top of jar and tighten metal ring to hold in place.
Partially fill the jar with warm (not hot) water and swirl around to clean seeds; pour out water. Refill with warm water and soak overnight.
After overnight soak, pour out water and place jar at a slight angle (a counter top dish drainer works well for this) to allow remaining water to run out. Turn jar to spread seed over the inside of the jar. Rinse sprouts daily, up to 2 or 3 times, with cool fresh water-allowing the jar to rest tilted to drain out excess water. Turn jar to spread seeds on the inside of the jar. As they get larger, thicken and green up, place sprouts in indirect light. Repeat rinsing until the sprouts are lush and ready to eat, rinse well and drain before placing in the refrigerator. Keep finished sprouts refrigerated and use within a week.
-Don’t over seed, give them room to breathe.
-Keep moist,-not wet.
-Sprout at room temperature- keep fresh ready-to-eat ones in the fridge.
-Sprout with joy!
Resources for seeds and supplies:
http://www.mountainroseherbs.com www.sproutpeople.org http://www.botanicalinterests.com
It is so very close to flower show time. The Pacific Northwest is buzzing as the calendar flips to February. The buzz in my head started many months ago. I received a phone call from Mark the Pond Guy (www.markthepondguy.com) and he said he was involved in putting together one of the big display gardens this year. Would I like to hear more? Hmmm, out of curiosity, I said sure I’ll come to a meeting. I usually skip a year between garden shows to catch my breath from the monumental task of building one of the gardens. So I sat in a planning meeting with Mark,his wife Cindy and friend, Joan Bogan. Their enthusiasm was infectious. I do love designing these gardens. So, I was caught up in a whirlwind of music notes, plants, stone, rocks, koi, water and a grand piano. Quite a combination don’t you think? So we converge on the convention center to build this whirlwind of ideas. Mark describes the feeling this week of preparation like a kid anticipating Christmas day. Me too! Along the way I have learned a few things as well. Like what andante is, how wonderful the sound of a piano is when played by someone so passionate about music, how rock can weigh tons or weigh nothing, how hard it is to have mileage and very busy schedules between team members. Yet there is this thing called passion that we all have, and it is to share a garden that you could envision yourself in. We are re-defining andante.
Redefining Andante’ ( ăn-dăn-‘tē)
Andante allows passage through music that changes the tempo. The listener can catch their breath.
How does andante feel in a garden?
The hectic race and crescendo of life is far beyond this space. Welcome to a small, tranquil garden that invites you to slow the pace and be inspired to compose and create. The sound and movement of water spills from a tumble of building ruins that weaves through a garden in harmony with foliage and color that relaxes and soothes. Original music inspired by this garden, written by one of the creators, will be performed throughout the show.
Put that visual in your head and then come to the show to see it full-scale. Grand piano and all…
Gift Package with a tea cup, shortbread cookies, a jar of honey, and a personal sentiment, plus inspirations that slow the pace and relax with a cup of tea, like a good book.
Create unique blends to give
Herbal Tea Recipe Blends:
Experiment with flavors you like, try not to add more than three ingredients at a time.
Sweet, Minty and Soothing
1 cup dried lavender buds
1 cup dried spearmint
½ cup dried German chamomile blossoms
A Tangy Touch Of Citrus
1 cup dried pineapple sage
1 cup rosehips, lightly crushed
½ cup dried lemon balm
A Floral Blend
½ cup rose petals
½ cup lavender buds
1 cup lemon verbena
Herbs Mixed With Indian or China Teas:
Create flavorful blends from purchased bulk teas. Mix a single herb with bulk tea such as Darjeeling, green or Earl Gray to create unique blends. The homegrown herb will enhance the tea with flavor and fragrance. Begin by mixing the tea 4 parts to 1 part of dried herb.
Combinations to try:
English lavender buds with Earl Gray
Spearmint with green tea
Bee balm with Darjeeling
Package hand-blended loose teas in small glassine bags.Seal and label with the flavor and instructions on how to brew.To use: 1 teaspoon of loose herbs per cup of hot water.