by Charlene Burgi
What happened to our spring? We went from a cold wet winter to summer. Springtime is a period to slowly adjust to the warm weather. Fruit trees bloom promising bushels of sweet treats to be eaten or shared with friends and family. Instead, this year many of the fruit-baring blossoms were sacrificed during spring’s torrential downpours. The fragrance of citrus trees washed away as the storms plummeted the gardens. Spring bulbs provided their glorious magical color, introducing the new season, only to be met with a deluge of rain. Many of us scampered into the house barely acknowledging their presence.
Despite the lost spring, there were some benefits:
- Mother Nature watered our plants for an extended period without the need for irrigation.
- The garden never looked better.
- Vegetables doubled and tripled their size within days when the sun came out.
- Weeds were easier to pull.
- Pollens were kept at bay for those suffering with allergies.
But we’re now facing a downside as the temperatures rage:
- Our gardens are overrun by weeds.
- High weeds left unchecked are a danger for wild land fire.
- Due to rain, garden chores multiplied overnight.
- Those with allergies are now suffering with increased pollen in the air.
The sun is shining now, and garden chores need to be prioritized. Fire suppression is the primary focus on the list. The extreme growth due to excessive rains and high temperatures will guarantee a high fire danger season this year. Keep the wild grasses around your home pulled or mowed. Spray weeds with a gallon of white vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap. This solution will burn the top growth of your weeds. Repeated applications will eventually kill the plants as they are deprived of sunlight. Understand that this is a non-selective solution, meaning it will burn whatever foliage it comes in contact with. Also understand that your garden may smell like a freshly tossed salad for a few days.
After the weeds are under control, check your irrigation system. If you have a smart controller, it will automatically adjust your runtimes. Not-so-smart controllers will require more work. The runtimes should be set according to the Weekly Watering Schedule for your area, or use the water budget feature if your controller has one. Note that we are at the height of irrigation season. Evapotranspiration peaks at the end of June and into July, when our gardens have the most solar exposure, or daylight. The plants’ water needs are greater now than at any other time of the year, not during August or September when the daylight hours begin to diminish.
Everyone with an irrigation system should:
- Manually turn on each valve to make certain the nozzles are watering the root zones of your plants.
- Check for missing emitters, breaks or leaks on your drip system.
- Set controllers for deep soak less frequently rather than light sprinkle more often.
- Correct for runoff by using the multi-program feature on the controller.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch to prevent evaporation and keep the roots cool and weeds down. (Remember that we have coupons from local retailers for mulch—and more—available on our website.)
After completing those tasks, a glass of iced tea and a lounge chair is in order.