North Coast Gardening | Water in the early morning or early evening – Times-Standard

Even though we had a period of torrential rains in late spring, the threat of drought still looms over the north coast. Here we go again with tips for saving water. But seriously, we should always follow water-saving guidelines, drought or not. Here are a few things you can do to keep your garden healthy and water efficient.

Water, Don’t Water: There’s no point in just waving a wand of water around the garden, watering the plants, foliage and all. It is far better to water directly at the roots. This can be done by flooding a bed directly at the base of each plant, if you wish to water by hand. Otherwise, use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to soak the root zone.

Make the soil healthy: This involves adding plenty of organic matter to the soil each spring and fall. Soil moisture is retained, beneficial soil microbes and bacteria increase. These things help increase the water holding capacity of the garden soil. Compost, composted manures, leaf mold and worm castings make the soil healthy.

Mulch: A 2-4 inch layer of mulch will not only smother water-hungry weeds, but also keep things from drying out. Mulch reduces evaporation. Rice straw is ideal for vegetable gardens. Mini fir bark and chipping mulch work well for landscaped areas

Timing is everything: the best time of day to water is early morning or early evening, especially on windy days. If you water late in the day, be careful not to water the foliage. Hand watering at the base of each plant is best.

Check irrigation tools: Fixing leaky faucets, sprinklers and pipes goes a long way to saving water. Nowadays, it is an unforgivable act to let precious water run down gutters due to faulty equipment.

Terry Kramer is the site manager of the Humboldt Botanical Garden and a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has written a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at

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