Field of Science

Gunga Din where are you?

Quite the opposite of Mary's situation, late summer in the upper midwestern USA means hot and dry, and at the best of times August and September are near droughts. Since all the rain is falling elsewhere, with which we agree is unfair, it's time to watch after your plants. Those of us who can't help ourselves, plant exotics that are not well adapted to the rigors of our climate, and you either baby the baby, or watch it whither and die. It takes 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) of rain a week to keep things like a well-mulched kitchen garden going in the summer heat, but that is not enough for a deep soaking, so deeper rooted plants begin to suffer. Last week some storms provided a scant 1/2 inch, and last night's storms not only interrupted a patio dinner, but dumped a whopping 1/4 inch of rain if we were lucky, and that's it for two weeks, and probably unless some more materializes today, all for the rest of this week, so no wonder lots of plants are suffering. If you have newly planted trees or shrubs, meaning plants in the ground for 3 years or less, keep them well watered and that takes more time and water than most people think. The Phactor is hounding our neighbors, not the ones who ripped out everything and planted grass, but the others who planted dozens of new things, a major non-grass landscaping effort that includes several very nice trees of some size, to keep watering, but they just don't water enough. Everyone thinks they can water, but after watching the superficial watering, you sometimes have to dig just below the surface and show them it remains bone dry down there; they always appear surprized. This is why drip irrigation works so well if you can just turn it on, go get a cold drink and forget about your water bills for the next four to five hours or so. Afterall if you spent some pretty good cash on a 2 meter tall golden dawn redwood, what's a few bucks more to keep it alive? Now there is one exception: grassy lawns. Let them bloody well dry out! Yes, they turn brown with the added benefit of needing no mowing, but that's what grass is meant to do in the heat of summer. It goes dormant. And yet the grass mono-culture morons keep dumping on the water. But that's life in the 'burbs.

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