Field of Science

Keep watering!

The Phactor is issuing a general warning that the great inequalities of precipitation we have been experiencing pose a grave danger to plants, especially any planted this year. After two weeks of no rain locally, a day of light rain helped a little, but not a lot. The rain gauge said it was barely 1/3d of an inch, barely wetting the surface, and not even that under the crowns of some of our large trees that not only are tremendous competitors for water but creators of their own rain shadows. So in marked constrast to the eastern USA, it remains a drought out here. Now here's the problem. Many people noted the recent rainy day and are mistakenly thinking things are OK for awhile, but they aren't. The soil water was not replenished and many plants are suffering stress. If you do not keep watering newly planted trees in the mistaken belief that nature has taken care of them they will die during the winter, fail to leaf out or grow in the spring, and winter cold will take the blame for your neglect. You see winter is actually a drought season, a cold dry desert effect takes place which is bad enough by itself, but when the plant enters winter already water stressed, the deck is stacked against survival. A number of new plantings around our town are already good bets for "winter kill" including almost all the city's mandated landscaping around new buildings because after meeting the letter of the regulation, the plants are routinely ignored, and the town is not very diligent at holding feet to the fire for replacement plantings. Some official exqamines the required landscaping, check, everything in compliance, everything dies, no one cares. So what's wrong with a 1 year check up? So unless the weather patterns change considerably the fall looks to be dry so lots of plants will die as a result. When you purchase a plant, especially a nice big expensive one, in my case an 8 foot tall weeping white pine,you must protect your investment by watering, watering, watering, and yes that costs money, but so does buying a replacement. Don't waste any water on the lawn; any grass in your lawn will just go dormant, so no worries. The general rule of thumb is that it takes at least an inch of rain a week to keep things in good shape. Lastly my apologies to those readers who have gotten way, way too much precipitation; it just isn't fair, it's nature, who just doesn't care.

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