Autumn in the Air

Wednesday marked the first day of my favorite season. Fall brings cooler and more comfortable weather, beautiful color changes, fruit bearing branches, and a crisp and cleaner smell to the air. The weather we have been having the last couple of weeks lends itself well to creating a nice display of fall color. Bright sunny days paired with cool nights is just the right recipe for the rich reds, purples, oranges, and yellows. But, not so fast!

We can’t forget about the lack of rain all through August and even September. The Philadelphia area has really only gotten one half-decent rainfall this month. Unfortunately, this lack of water tends to make leaves go from green straight to brown. So, even though the cooler temperatures feel nice and are less stressful on plants, DON’T FORGET TO WATER! We are still severely lacking in rainfall and if you “forgot” this summer, it’s not too late to help prepare your plants for winter. Because you never know if the rains will come (maybe next week?).

There is no irrigation at the Japanese House, so all summer long I lug soaker hoses from one end of the garden to the other, and back again. These are flexible black hoses that seep water all along their length. The rate of seepage can be determined by how much water you are diverting into the hose. A painfully slow drip is ideal so the water can actually soak into the ground instead of creating a runoff situation. If you have to setup one of these hoses on an elevation change, try to make sure that the flow of water travels downhill. Otherwise, the water may seep out early from the added pressure of gravity, and not make it the full length of your hose. Always ease your hoses on and be careful not to have too much initial water pressure in the hose because some of the first few holes can rip from too much force. I tend to slowly open the water to a setting faster then what my long term setting will be, let the soaker hose fill up until I see water seeping from the far end, then I dial the water back until I get my desired flow rate. I still have a couple of the older-style soaker hoses that are pierced every several inches. They are clearly inferior but still very useful, and if you are watering for long periods to get a good soak, the plants hardly know the difference.

I tend towards the soaker hoses as a means of watering around the garden because just wetting the soil under shrubs and trees is a more efficient use of water. More so because it’s better not to wet the leaves and flowers of your plants, especially if you’re watering during the heat of the day (which in some cases cannot be avoided). I only use the oscillating-type sprinklers on the grass where there is a larger area to cover. Some hand watering is also done, especially the mossy areas. Can you tell that I’ve been doing a lot of watering over the last couple of months?