by Charlene Burgi
We all have a tendency to turn on our irrigation systems as soon as the March temperatures soar near the 80s. Before doing that, here are a few things to consider.
First, check the moisture level content of your soil. Insert a shovel or soil probe into an area of your garden. You’ll probably be surprised to notice that your soil is still quite moist from the recent rains. And that’s good, because your plants are drawing their water needs from that water in the soil.
Second, if you have a thick layer of mulch on your non-turf areas, your soil will retain more water. That’s because mulch acts as an insulating blanket and prevents water from evaporating, thereby saving the need to water your plants.
However, if you discover that your soil is dry and your plants are beginning to droop, then please irrigate. Remember, many of your plants are still coming out of dormancy and their need for irrigation may be minimal.
Before turning on your irrigation system, check for broken pipes/irrigation heads, missing emitters, clogged nozzles or other damage. Turn on each station separately and walk around to assess the zone performance. Note if each spray head is reaching the spray heads next to it; if geysers of water are shooting up in the air from missing parts; or if loud hissing is heard from the drip system, indicating that emitters are missing. Make those repairs a top priority before activating the controller.
As weather conditions change, we will be sending out emails and updating our “Weekly Watering Schedule” on our website and telephone “Tip Line” (945-1578) letting you know when it’s time to turn on your irrigation system.
Update: Bay-Friendly Gardening Workshops
The “Edibles” Bay-Friendly Gardening class this weekend is a sell out. If you did not register in time, please note that we will offer this class again in a few months. In the meantime, please sign up for the next class in the series, “Gardening to Manage Pests Naturally,” coming up on April 10. If you are attending the Edibles class, remember that we will be meeting at Draper Farms and NOT at Marin Art and Garden Center. See www.bayfriendlycoalition.org for details about all of our Bay-Friendly Gardening workshops.