Watering: How to avoid drowning your garden

Tough to achieve too much watering when you have to squeeze each water molecule through a sieve.

Tough to do too much watering when you have to squeeze each water molecule through a sieve.

They say more plants die from overly enthusiastic watering than from any other cause. Whoever “they” are, they’re probably right. I confess I’ve contributed many an innocent seedling to that sopping wet statistic.

The Cure for Too Much Watering? Overwork.

I think I may have stumbled onto a cure for overwatering. In fact, the only way I managed to get my tendency to overindulge my whining seedlings was to change my watering methods. I carry every bit of water myself. No hose in sight.

Well, not quite true. I can see a hose, out there by the two mutant rose bushes that are skyrocketing branches into the air.

But as far as the rest, I can safely (and a bit self-righteously) say that I tote, carry, lug and haul every ounce of water my plants get.

Besides, hoses are catastrophic when dragged through the living room.

Overwatering is still possible, but I have to work hard to do so

First, fill two 24-ounce drinking glasses.

Head for the indoor garden and give each of the two tamarinds a hefty gulp. Back to the kitchen for a refill.

Give the European cypress, the basil planter, the herb garden and the funny looking thing with the curled up leaves a sip. Maybe two. Give the weird houseplant with the mottled striped leaves a few ounces.

Drinking glasses go back to the kitchen, and out comes the plastic drinking water bottle with the watering-can nozzle on top. Fill that, and moisten the soil around the perimeter of each of the peat starter pots. One water bottle should easily cover a dozen peat pots. Don’t use the one with the red nozzle. It leaks.

Back to the kitchen for two towels to clean up the red nozzle’s spills.

Clean, wipe, mop, traipse.

Now fill up the empty gallon milk jug, 3/4 of the way up. Any higher and it leaks, and we’ll be mopping the floor.

Out to the patio, jug in hand, to water (in no particular order) jalapeño plant that refuses to die, yellow squash plants in 12″ indoor pot now living on outdoor patio, sumac “tree,” and what may or may not be a russet potato plant.



Extreme Heat: Can your garden survive?

The Southwest expects extreme heat - but not necessarily in June.

The Southwest expects extreme heat – but not necessarily in June.

The jet stream is galloping north, and we of the high desert are in line for temperatures at 115F — and up. Extreme heat for here – we get blistering hot temperatures in July, August, September – and we expect it then. But it’s June, for Pete’s sake.

Can your garden survive extreme heat?

There’s no guarantee that gardens, lawns and newly planted trees can come through extreme heat stretches unscathed, but they’ll have a better chance of making it if you take these preventive measures while you can still step outside safely:

Veggie gardens:

  • Mulch – layer on three inches wherever possible. This will keep the soil cooler and help retain water.
  • Water –  deeply and often. Use a trickle hose or soaker to get the water to the roots instead of into the atmosphere.
  • Shade – leafy greens have a better chance of surviving with a shade cloth, which may slow down bolting.


  • Soak to get water through dried soil. Water as early as possible in the day to reduce evaporation loss.
  • Skip the mowing until the weather cools off – not just for your health and safety, but also for the health of your lawn.
  • Set your water system for pre-dawn hours if at all possible.


  • Trees need two to four inches of water each week to survive the high temperatures. Skip the sprinkler and grab the soaker hose.
  • Water early, water slow, water deep, especially on new trees and shrubs.
  • Mist can help save shrubs by protecting delicate foliage (if you’re willing to “water the air” to do so).

Bottom line, though, is this: You can grow another garden. You can recover, reseed or pave over a lawn. You can coax many trees back to health —or replace newly planted ones if they don’t make it.

You cannot, on the other hand, come back to life if you die of heat stroke.

Extreme heat can kill you. Know the symptoms of heat illness and heat stroke. Stay hydrated, and be alert for changes in your body temperature, pulse and blood pressure, and watch out for dizziness, pallor. If you STOP sweating, take immediate measures to cool down.

To your garden success!
Casey – the Garden Lass