From Dennis Patton:
Summer is now over. Fall has arrived. I don’t think anyone would argue from a weather standpoint that this may have been the best one ever. Temperatures were milder than normal. Rainfall was ample, with only a few minor periods of stress. It was almost ideal, from a gardener’s perspective.
But as we all know this too will come to an end. Our weather patterns over the last few years have been a tale of two extremes. Remember back to 2011 through 2013? We were in a drought that was as extreme as the Dust Bowl days. Then this summer, I believe from reading reports, was the sixth wettest on record.
Over the last few weeks the amount of rain falling in the region has been spotty. Some areas have received several inches while others parts of the metro only received tenths, if even that. This past weekend I was doing the typical gardening thing, strolling through the garden, and noticed that a few areas were on the dry side, as well as some of my spring planted materials were wilting slightly.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Hoses and sprinkler systems have been pretty quiet this summer with the rains but now might be a good time to check and see if your plants have the moisture they need heading into winter. Plants that have adequate moisture over the winter months have increased abilities to tolerate winter extremes and survive. With that in mind here are some examples you might want to check on in the coming days. That is unless Mother Nature decides to bless us with more rain.
The lawn may need a drink. Many of us fertilize in September to help encourage new growth and recovery from summer. A 1-inch application of water will help the grass convert the fertilizer into energy for new roots and shoots to help fill in the bare areas and reduce the chance of weeds finding those areas. Those that seeded earlier this year will need to pay special attention to watering. The young seedlings will have very limited roots and lack of moisture will slow establishment.
Trees and shrubs planted in the spring are still living on shallow, limited roots. Warmer temperatures and sunshine will quickly evaporate moisture from the upper surface of the soil. It would be a good idea to soak the newly planted root ball and an area several feet out from the plant. This deep soaking will help keep the roots growing well into November and a stronger more resilient plant for winter protection and spring growth.
Annuals and vegetable gardens may also extend their show and production with a nice supply of moisture. The 10-day forecast calls for pleasant temperatures without a hint of the first frost of the season. Supplying even moisture will help the plants continue to flower or develop new fruit.
Watering is the most difficult gardening practices for us to grasp. We cannot see what is going on down in the soil. Learning to properly water is a combination of knowing your soils, plant types and being a farmer by paying attention to the weather forecast. With that being said it never hurts to have a gentle reminder that it might be time to get the hoses back out and provide a little early fall moisture for healthy plants. Happy gardening and enjoy the arrival of fall.