This week’s garden tip was submitted by Wally Schmidtke, sales manager at Pesche’s Flower Shop and Garden Center.
Where to get water
Chlorine has a negative effect on plants, positive bacteria in organic fertilizers and on the soil. Use de-chlorinated water whenever possible.
At Pesche’s we water our plants with rainwater from a holding pond; most nurseries use tap water.
To apply that concept at your home, fill up a watering can or a five-gallon bucket, and let it sit for a couple of days. I cover the bucket with a screen to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. The chlorine will dissipate and the water temperatures will match the outside air, so there is no cold shock to the plant.
Rain barrels conserve water and save money
Consider a rain barrel. Rainwater has a neutral pH and is free of minerals and chemical treatments, which can negatively affect plants. Using a rain barrel can also conserve water and reduce water bills.
Drip watering is a great way to conserve water and it directs water to where it's used best, near the root zone.
You can create your own drip watering system with plastic gallon milk bottles. Clean the plastic gallon containers with caps, and place a small hole in the bottom of each container.
Fill the containers with water. Use the cap to adjust the rate at which the water drips out of the base of the containers. Adjust for a slow drip.
Place one container about 4 to 6 inches away from the base of each plant. This works great for tomatoes.
Check your irrigation system after a few days. When you fill a container the second time, move it to the other side of the plant, and a little farther from its base. The plant will build a healthy root system while, in a way, working for its water.
This system also works well for fertilizing your plants. Mix a water-soluble fertilizer per the instructions for a one-gallon container and repeat the above steps.