We're all watching the sky and hoping it will cloud up and rain — not a few sprinkles, but real soil-soaking rain. So far this spring has been topsy-turvy and setting weather records since March or before. Our plants don't know whether to grow, bloom, or just plain give up — and, sadly, some of them are giving up. Grass has gone dormant, many plants that were ahead of schedule blooming, are now looking lackluster and struggling to keep going under the heavy burden of hot, hot days and nights.
No matter what the weather is doing, I always enjoy checking with the Farmers' Almanac to see what their predictions are for the future and to see if they will be right or wrong. I have to admit I wasn't pleased with their prediction for this year. “Summer Will Sizzle” is the title of the article on the subject. Farmers' Almanac Editor Peter Geiger, Philom, goes on to say, “Get out your sunscreen! We're in for a scorcher.”
He also says, “For the coming summer, the 195-year-old publication is predicting — unseasonably hot and dry weather will be on tap for the Rockies and Great Plains, as well as the eastern states, while the Pacific Northwest will see below-normal precipitation.” “On the other side of the coin, the Great Lakes and the Midwest are expected to see above-normal precipitation from locally heavy showers and thunderstorms.”
That's us, Fort Wayne gardeners, so maybe we'll see an end to this drought we're experiencing. In the meantime, don't neglect watering your perennials, shrubs and trees.
Of all the plants in the garden or landscape, trees are our most valuable assets due to the work they do for us. They not only add beauty and charm to our homes, but protection from cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Even so, trees are probably the last plants we think we'll need to water when drought conditions arrive on the scene. Fact is, they are more susceptible than you would think because their roots lay close to the surface of the soil fanning out in a large circular shape. To get a picture of how large a circle that is, look at the tree canopy and that will tell you how wide the footprint of the tree is.
So, until those rains arrive that the Farmers' Almanac is promising us, give your trees a good soaking at the root level:
•Use a soaker hose or use your hose with one of those inexpensive plastic ring sprinklers attached.
•Lay the soaker in a circular arrangement about 2 feet from the trunk of the tree or set the plastic ring sprinkler so that it sprays (gently) on both sides and all around the ground under the tree.
•Let it soak in for half an hour or so then check to see if it is wetting the soil to a depth of 4 to 5 inches.
•Using your trowel, dig down in a couple of places and see if the water has reached the desired depth.
•Doing this once every week or so is usually enough to keep the tree hydrated.
•Adding a nice thick layer of mulch around the tree will help keep the soil moist. Do not put mulch up against the trunk. Doing this invites pests and disease to invade the tree.