Irrigating Your Autumn Plantings?September 26, 2013
Are you watering in your new autumn plantings?
October is one of the busiest planting times for Garden Mentors®. Temperatures have cooled. Plants are entering dormancy. And, the soil is sufficiently moistened by the returning rains of autumn. Or at least that’s the case in years not like this one.
This year, following an unusually hot, dry summer, the Earth isn’t quite as damp as newly installed plant roots need. On one job site, the soil was as sandy and dry as a desert from the top down. At other locations, where recently the soil had been amended with compost, it was still dry once our shovels dug below a foot. And, in our own home gardens, which have been treated to intermittent summer irrigation as well as over a decade of mulch applications, we found that below 18″ the soil was barely damp.
So, we’re watering in October even as the leaves turn color and begin to fall.
At those particularly dry sites, we may be watering the night before we plant as well as after new plantings are installed. In places where the the soil is dry anywhere new roots will make contact, we’re watering after planting.
And, in most cases, we’re watering the potted plants from the nursery before we install them. Many of those root-bound beauties will do better if they are saturated and then drained before we rip their roots apart to plant them into the earth.
It may be cool. It may be foggy and drippy. And, soil may look damp, but explore carefully as you dig deeper. Check to see if you need to moisten the ground to help your new fall plantings root in successfully before winter’s chill settles in. Watering now by hand may make all the difference in your plants’ ability to survive until true autumn rains return consistently, rebuilding depleted water tables — particularly in the Pacific Northwest, particularly this year.