Molluscs party at night!

When should you water your garden? In the morning or the evening?

There is absolutely no reason why you can’t do the watering in the evening – especially if that’s the best time for you to fit it in with all of life’s other commitments. It’s better to do it then than not at all. But just think for a second….……What comes out at night and is attracted to damp conditions?

These fellas – party molluscs!!

And what have you just provided for them when you water in the evening?

Their favourite conditions for partying.

So, the absolutely best time to water your plants is first thing in the morning. It’s okay, I’m not necessarily talking about before the birds get up. Water them at a time that allows for them to drink in the transparent nectar before the sun is strong enough to cause evaporation.

The art of watering

I really do think that watering is an art more than a science. You have to learn how to judge when your plants need your help in accessing water. If you’ve just experienced a week of torrential rain then you clearly don’t need to run outside and get the sprinkler going!  

It actually takes a lot of hot weather to take the moisture out of deep soil but soil near the surface dries out pretty quickly. So, if your plants are newly sown seeds, young seedlings/plantlets with shallow roots OR adult plants with shallow roots, such as salad leaves, then they will be more at risk of becoming dehydrated in dry weather.  In particularly hot and dry weather you may find that you need to water your shallow rooted plants every day. In cooler weather it may only be once a week.

Younger plants have a shallow root system. In dry and hot weather, they will need to be watered more often than mature plants whose roots systems are deeper.

Raised beds drain freely and don’t get waterlogged so in this instance, it’s very hard to overwater.

You may look at the growing area of your more deeply rooted vegetables, such as kale, and think it’s dry. But before you water, dig down or poke your finger in about 5cm (2in). If it is still dry at that depth then yes, by all means go ahead and throw a few buckets on. A good soak once a week is best.

If we water our plants too often then they get lazy, they don’t have to send their roots out very far to find the moisture and so they develop a shallow root system. The more deeply rooted the plant is, the stronger it is and the more resilient it is against extreme weather, pests and disease.

Tip- remember your fruit bushes and trees. When grown in pots they will need watering (especially when the fruit is developing) possibly once a week in very dry weather. Fruit bushes and trees in the ground will be a little more self- sufficient and shouldn’t need a drink more than once a fortnight BUT give them a deluge! Consider them (trees especially) as binge drinkers that like to go out and party on a Friday night. 

 

Do tomato plants laugh when you tickle them?

Am I the only one that’s ever asked that question? If you’ve never tried growing tomato plants, you’re probably reaching for the phone right now – “help, someone’s going around actually tickling tomato plants!” But wait, please let me explain. It’s not a joke, it really is a thing!

I think that THE most rewarding plant to grow is the tomato. Once you have it safely ensconced in a pot of multi-purpose soil or a grow bag, it needs a little bit of support and pampering for it to fulfil its true calling in life. A really good drink of water in dry weather; a meal of high potassium feed once a week from the time it goes into flower; a few cosmetics, and by the end of August you’ll be plucking juicy red fruits from the vine -preferably on a sunny day when all the sugars have risen into the fruit. But there are two really important jobs to do before you get to enjoy the fruit of your labour.

 Vine tomatoes will produce side shoots known as ‘suckers’. Those suckers have got to go! The plant is putting energy into growing as big as it can but we want it to put all its energy into growing our delicious tomato. To identify the sucker; follow the main stem until you get to a leaf. If there is a growth emerging in between where the leaf meets the stem that is your sucker! Get rid of it by simply breaking it off the plant.

All tomato plants are self pollinating – meaning the pollen in a flower needs only to drop down into the female parts of the same flower for fertilisation to take place. They still need our lovely pollinating critters to visit to jiggle the flower around, causing the pollen to fall. But you’ll have noticed that the flowers aren’t exactly show stopping. They can easily be missed by insects. If you plant pots of marigolds and other flowers that insects like around them, you increase the chance of the flower being pollinated. BUT – if you gently rub your finger over the end of the flower you’re basically doing the job of the insect. This is genuinely known as ‘tickling’. Your plant is more likely to produce fruit by giving it a good tickle. So go ahead, give your tomatoes a good tickle and hear them squeal with delight!

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