On Watering

Over-watering is one of the most common gardening errors.  Not only is it unnecessary to pour large doses of water on in-ground plants, but it also hurts the environment to water in-ground plants frequently.  Survival of the fittest plants produce the most useful produce.   Therefore, if you have a plant or two requiring lots of time and attention, it is okay (and good in fact!) to let it go.  Yank that whiny, pesky plant up out of the ground and toss it into the compost pile, where it will be put to good use.  I have had several tomatoes (I started late but they are starting to come up), but I am not yet harvesting the seeds because these tomatoes are not totally satisfactory.  Some have had a bit of blight (nothing serious), or they were not pickably ripe for very long.  Since I do not want these traits next year, I’m not bothering to save the seeds of those particular plants this year.  If I have learned anything so far this season, it is that I can save seeds and expect something to grow from them, and that I do not need to save every seed.   I may soon be overrun with tomatoes.  My problems could be worse.  I don’t mind the burden of abundance.  However, any of my plants that can’t stand the heat will have to be allowed to transition to the other side.  I am not a primping, preening, prompting gardener.  I admittedly want to put in as little effort as possible for the greatest harvest, and simply enjoy sinking my hands in the dirt to see what comes back up.

On the question of watering, remember that even house plants and potted plants are easily over-watered.  Use a gentle touch with them.  Do not doused or drown them.  Keep in mind that drowning is what happens when you give your plants too much water: you seal off the root ends which need to be open to receive nutrients from the soil.  Think of all the trouble you went to putting broken pieces of clay pots and other spacers for the roots to “breathe.”  Filling the root ends full of water defeats the purpose of creating pathways for the plant’s lifelines.  There is great variation in the amount of water plants need.  Fortunately for us, however, some of the signs they’re getting too much water are often the same plant to plant.  The following are a few such indicators.


1. drooping leaves all around and general wilted appearance

2. browning of young leaves

3. existing leaves turn yellow (or a shade lighter than their natural color), and wilt

4. the plant stops growing new leaves

5. the soil itself may have a greenish hue (this may be algae)

If your plants are showing these signs, take a break from watering for a few days, and see how they respond.  When you do water, as a general rule, it’s a good idea to check moisture at least an inch or two beneath the surface of the soil, since looks can be deceiving.  Some soil gets dry quickly on top but is masking saturated soil beneath.

QUESTION: do you remember the first time you watered a plant?  picked a flower?  became aware of the interdependence of people and plants?  Go ahead … gimme the dirt.

New Faves Added – Gardens and Arts

Hi all, please check out the “blogs I like” list below.  I added Jason Akers, the Self Sufficient Gardener, whose philosophy and approach to gardening is harmonious with mine (although his experience far exceeds my own).  If you have particular gardening questions, I recommend checking out the site.  His approach tends to be low-maintenance, non-fussy gardening.  Please check out his site, and help support his efforts.  He has done a lot to get others comfortable with gardening, from participating in community events in Kentucky (and beyond) to preach the pesticide-free approach to providing a forum for fellow gardeners everywhere to get specific questions answered.  He also welcomes called in questions to feature on his pod cast — give him a call, and you might hear yourself on his show.

Also added to the RSS feed is a site featuring the work of my favorite contemporary (and rural) artist, Dave Lundahl.  He has been doing cutting-edge art-ography (check out the site, and you’ll “see” what I mean) for many years.  Enjoy his work, and check out more about Dave’s innovative and inspiring work at The Art of the Rural (a blog on rural arts and culture in America), Sugar Magnolia (a blog on photography, mommying, cooking, and living), the New Light Studios site  (this is the artist’s website, maintained by friends and fans, since Dave, himself, is even more of a Luddite than me – although I have been changing my ways of late), and the Facebook page.  Dave, too, is a revel gardener, and has provided many gifts from his art and garden.  They have always been welcome visitors on my return trip to NY from WI, except for a time several years ago when one of his gifts almost got me detained by airport security.  After clearing the metal detector, I watched with curiosity, wondering who around me had such interesting wares that TSA officers were huddled around the screen, whispering to each other.  To my surprise, I got pulled aside and interrogated about what was in my bag.  I had no idea there would be anything of interest, and it crossed my mind that someone had slipped something surreptitiously into my suitcase.  Finally, a gloved officer very carefully dragged my bag out, whisking it away to a secure area and, with nearly comic caution, pulled out an enormous cucumber, plucked fresh that morning from Dave’s garden.  It was a nice, big, plump one.  It may have been around the time they started limiting liquids, and this one exceeded the limit.  Either way, the takeaway: careful what fruit you fly with.  Cucimus sativus is not an easy travel companion.

The link to Dave Lundahl’s art here seems particularly fitting because the sun is crucial for his creations.  While items grown in the garden might not all be masterpieces (check out my recent sunflower failure, in the comments section to Patience is an Amalgam), a lesson we can take away is that art is process, and process is art.  And every garden is a process.  To this revel gardener’s eye, the garden, too, is often art.  (Check out my recent post on the NY Botanical Garden’s exhibit inspired by Monet’s garden at Giverny).

QUESTION: what are some of your favorite blogs, gardeners, artists?  Check out these sites, and let me know what you think.  What’s your strangest travel story?  Have you ever been stopped for flying with juicy fruit?  Live plants?  Stowaway garden goodies?  Go ahead … gimme the dirt!