Question of the Week: September 21, 2017

Photo: You won’t have to water often in winter, but you don’t ever want to be without access to water in Texas gardening.

“When can we quit watering, Neil?”

When I saw that question on my Facebook page last weekend a couple of thoughts flashed through my mind.

1. He’s really serious, thinking there might be a time when the faucets and hoses could actually be shut down for the season, or

2. Maybe he’s just curious about what I would say.

My answer was the shortest one I’ve ever given to that imponderable question, and here’s what I told him: “The day that we die.

Continued Below


Why you always want to be ready to water…
There are some compelling reasons you never want to let your guard down in watering your plants.
• Roots continue to grow all through the winter.
• Hopefully you have recently applied, or soon will apply, your final feeding of the growing season – an all-nitrogen or high-nitrogen fertilizer with half or more of the N in slow-release form. Your plants will continue to grow this fall if you keep watering properly.
• Poorly hydrated plants are weaker, more likely to be damaged by winter cold.
• Poorly hydrated plants may be more susceptible to damage from insects, diseases.
• New plants are especially vulnerable to root loss if their soils dry out, and once leaves start to fall it’s almost impossible to tell if a plant is dry by looking only at its top growth.

So how does this equate to water conservation?
We never know when the next drought may be starting. It could be underway right now, so it’s incumbent on each of us to conserve every possible pint of water we can. But that doesn’t mean that we quit watering when temperatures finally begin to drop in the fall.

Frequency and duration of irrigation will change compared to the summer. Instead of watering a couple of times per week, perhaps you can squeeze out a week or more between waterings.

Check your sprinkler settings. If you have a “smart” controller, be sure that it’s working properly. Make those corrections now, while the weather is pleasant. It’s a lot more fun to repair things at 80F or 85F than it will be once it heads down toward freezing.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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