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Gardening with Laurie: Treegator great for watering trees and shrubs

By Victoria Advocate
Sept. 1, 2011 at 4:01 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

By Laurie Garretson

With daily temperatures repeatedly more than 100 degrees, what gardener during this dry spell could really expect to have a lush, beautiful landscape. At this point, many of us are just doing well to keep our lawns healthy and green. Let's face it, at this particular time, it's very hard to keep everything in the yard happy. The weather is just way too hot, and we're experiencing a drought like we've never experienced before.

I'd have to say that the majority of problems and questions I'm getting lately have mostly been weather related. Most pest issues are because of stressed plants caused from the unusual intense heat and drought. Foliage that's pale in color can also be attributed to the heat or the lack of sufficient nutrients. Having to water so often leaches nutrients from the soil. Feeding more often may be in order. The unusual heat can also cause plants to kind of "shut down." When this happens the plant might not be able to bloom as often, or when it does bloom, the buds may die or fall off before they open. If the bud does open, you might find that the flower is smaller than usual size.

When a plant shuts down, it's just trying to stay alive and not putting any effort into any other process. Many times, the foliage on plants can be pale in color because of this process. Right now, many plants are actually burning from the heat. Then there's a few problems I've seen that were caused from too much water. Some gardeners worry so much about their plants getting enough water that they unknowingly water too often. And the list of heat-related plant problems goes on and on.

I think some ingenious gardener should come up with an artificial inflatable cloud that comes in different sizes. When needed, whether just for shade cover or watering purposes, you'd get your cloud out of the garage and inflate it. There would need to be different sizes available that would hold different amounts of water and when the lawn or garden needed to be watered you could some how activate the cloud to sprinkle a designated amount of water on the ground below. Oh well, enough dreaming.

There actually is a new invention for watering trees and shrubs that I discovered a few weeks ago. It's called a Treegator. The Treegator is a bag-like apparatus that's made of UV stabilized PVC that's covered with a green "gator-like skin." The Treegator rests on the ground and fits around the lower portion of the trees trunk. The bag holds about 15 gallons of water when filled. The bag slowly releases the water over five to eight hours. With such a slow application rate you shouldn't lose any water to run off. Slower absorption would promote deeper root growth, which is a very good thing. Liquid fertilizers can be added to the water as needed. If planting a new tree or for a recently planted tree, a Treegator would be a big help keeping it watered. There is also a Treegator Junior for low branched trees and shrubs. I bet some ingenious gardener came up with this idea.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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