Part of my Spring gardening rituals is getting ready to water. Watering is an important part of gardening, but it’s tricky. I want to be wise in how I use the water. This is part of my partnership I want to have by working with nature for the benefit of all. Water is a precious resource. It’s not enough to just put water on the plants – I don’t want to waste water.
I like using soaker hoses because I can place them where I want the water to go without unnecessary run-off. I check & set up my soaker hoses, making sure any kinks or tears are repaired. Sometimes I need to reorient the hoses to be more efficient. I like to water as early in the morning as possible; this encourages the most soaking in of the water into the soil and the least chance of evaporation. So after I set up the hoses, I set the timer and make sure it’s running properly.
This post is about watering annuals. Annuals are those flowers and plants that usually live for part of the year, then die. You generally need to replace annuals every year. Some of my favorite examples of an annual are impatiens, geraniums, pansies, fuchsias, etc. Most annuals have a shallow root system. Generally, the roots are going to be in the top 12 inches of soil. Then the roots spread around, close to the plant. The general guideline for annuals is to look and check the soil often. You want the soil to be moist 1 – 2 inches below the surface.
Here’s what to look for to know when to water your annuals.
- Is the soil dry below the surface? (get your fingers dirty to check!)
- Leaves look tired or dull. (most plants will die or stop growing if they dry out)
- The stems start to sag. The flowers are drooping and dry out faster than usual.
Please comment if you have any questions.
But there are three ways in the world:
dangerous, wounding, and beauty.
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth, be plant
desiring sunlight, believing in water.
To enter fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food.
by Linda Hogan
As I mentioned in my post, Solstice, my calendula plants didn’t make it through the winter freeze this year. I was intending to plant seeds this Spring to begin again. However, while hand weeding, I noticed several calendula starts already. Last summer, once I gathered enough seeds from the plants, I just scattered any additional seeds around the bed. I had wanted to encourage more plants, but also wondered if they would survive the winter. What a delight to see their tru-leaves now. Calendula seeds remind me of little crescents and it’s been fun to see the seed remnants on the new leaves.
I didn’t know much about calendula before a few years ago when I interned at a Children’s Garden. Did you know that the previously, accepted treatment for burns was to use butter? No longer, because the butter just traps the heat in, intensifying the burn instead of healing. However, I learned the reason why butter used to be put on burns. Previously, calendula was used as the dye in butter to make it appear yellow. Calendula is an excellent treatment for healing the skin after a first degree burn. (After following the Red Cross’ First Aid guidelines, cool the first degree burn by running cool water over it, making sure it’s clean and dry. Then apply calendula oil or salve to the area. I don’t know about using this for a second or third degree burns – best to consult your medical practitioner before using it for those.) So that’s why people used to put butter on burns – not because the butter helped, but because the calendula did.
This Saturday, April 5th, heralds the beginning of the April Spring Sales. The Audubon Society Plant Sale consistently has one of the nicest selection of native plants that work well in the Pacific Northwest. One of my favorite eco-friendly growers, Tadpole Haven Native Plants will be there. From their website, their philosophy of growing natives is very similar to mine to partner with nature for mutual healing.
“We plant native plants because they are good for the environment. Native plants heal damaged land, provide food and shelter for creatures large and small, filter runoff and cool streams. It only makes sense that growing native plants be done in a way that heals.“
I highly recommend taking the time this Saturday from 10am – 4pm to stop by & see for yourself.
Spring lures out my favorite flowers – the daffodils. Combined with forsythia, their sunny cheerfulness chases away winter doldrums. We’re a little late for St David’s Day (March 1), but we still enjoy the flowers named for him. And many of you are still waiting for the crocuses and glory of the snow to begin peeking their heads above the ground, before you even think about daffs. I hope this inspires you to brighten your home by bringing flowers and flowering branches inside.
Recently, I’ve been asked about the care of Forsythias. These are a bright, yellow Spring flowering plant that herald Spring. When in bloom, they are also a great reminder that it’s time to prune your roses. When the blooms are gone, they create a hedge or tall, background plant for garden beds.
It is easy to care for Forsythias. They only need an annual pruning to keep their shape, increase air flow, blooms and rejuvenate the plant’s canes. You want to follow the Rule of Thirds to prune Forsythias. Remove the first third of the canes entirely. Cut them down to the ground. For the second third of the canes, prune them about a third the way down. And the final third, leave the canes as they are. If you want a more compact plant, you can pinch out the tips of the canes. Please let me know if you have any questions or need clarity.