Gardening with Laurie: Water wisely, conserve

Laurie Garretson

By now, almost everyone in our part of the world realizes that we are in a drought. The worst drought in recorded history, according to many experts.

Conditions have gotten so bad that we all need to consider our water usage. We should use wise watering methods at all times when watering landscape.

When you realize that 97 percent of the water supply on our planet is salty, and two-thirds of our freshwater supply is frozen, that leaves a very limited supply of water for plant and human life.

There is no other factor that will have as much influence on your plant population than does the amount of water in the soil and air. Water constitutes most all of the makeup of vegetation matter.

Water is required for all the functions of a plants life. The roots of a plant can grow only in areas that have water and oxygen. Too much water in any area decreases the amount of oxygen. Both water and oxygen have to be in proper proportion.

The majority of plant roots are formed in the top 6 to 12 inches of the soil. This is also where the greatest amount of oxygen will be found.

Larger, older roots are mainly there for support purposes. As these larger roots grow down 2 feet or more in the soil, they will take up less moisture and nutrients.

It is when the moisture content in the upper soil is decreased that the larger, deeper roots will take up some water and nutrients. The deeper the water, the harder it is and the more energy a plant has to use to obtain it.

The key to effective watering should be to water thoroughly, uniformly and deeply, concentrating on wetting the whole area of soil down to a 2-foot depth.

Place the water in the drip line area of soil not at the trunk of the plant or tree. Mulching helps to preserve moisture in the soil for all plants.

All living things need water for the entirety of its life - whether human, animal or plant. With such a limited amount available to us, doesn't it make sense to be more careful with our usage of it? Having enough water literally is a matter of life or death.

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.