Field of Science

Indian Summer- Keep Watering

As always battling weather fronts make for weather extremes here in Midwestern North America. Only a week ago, the over night lows were flirting with a frost, although in the center of our mighty metropolis it's usually a few degrees warmer. Presently this Saturday's high is in the lower 80s, and not having had any significant rain in nearly two weeks, the area is parched. A typical enough Indian summer, but one that requires gardeners to take some care. Farmers harvesting their maize and soybeans are delighted, but many plants are suffering, and if they were newly planted, the wise gardener is providing them with some significant water. Watched a neighbor making a common error, spray over watering, a novice mistake. Using a hand held nozzle he only wet the top millimeter of soil, and while the top looked wet, the plant roots remain bone dry, and even worse he thinks he watered! It takes patience, or forgetfulness to water well. Lacking the former you are much better off to use a slow gentle sprinkler and then simply forget about things for a couple of hours. Come spring, didn't-water-morons will complain about how many plants died, but they killed them, right now during the fall, but this will be a hard sell. What most people don't realize is that the biggest winter kill problem is from desiccation; winter is like a cold desert, and more plants die of dehydration than freezing. Indian summers are nice for getting the garage painted, today's major chore, and it's a delightful temperature, but tough on plants.

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