Meet Karen Weiland, one of our guest bloggers. Karen is a master gardener and business woman in LaGrange County. Not only does she author a gardening column for several local newspapers, she also runs Village View Bed and Breakfast in Howe. Karen also spearheads LaGrange County’s Barn Quilt Tour, having organized the event and painted many of the beautiful barn quilt murals that dot the LaGrange County landscape. Karen shares a wealth of knowledge about gardening.
I am finding that keeping everything watered is quite a chore during the recent dry period. This spring I constructed several rain barrels complete with a planter on the top of it which I must say turned out very well. I had wonderful visions of capturing rain water to use on my thirsty plants but that vision has certainly dried up. All I can do now is fill those barrels with well water and pretend it is rain. Pretending is not my thing!
One way to reduce water usage and still have a healthy garden is to use gray water or the water left over from everyday activities. When washing produce, set a bowl in the sink to catch runoff. After steaming or boiling food, let the water cool and then use it on plants. When the dehumidifier tray is full use the water to hydrate plants.
Need to change the water in the kiddie pool? Scoop it out to water the closest plants and when empty enough drag it to a thirsty flower bed. Set an empty pail under the faucet when waiting for the water to get hot enough for a shower or doing the dishes. I know it is not always convenient but think about the water you are wasting as it goes down the drain.
When running a sprinkler take the guess work out of knowing when to shut it off by setting a rain gauge nearby to measure how much water the area is getting. About an inch of water per week should be sufficient depending on soil type, plant needs and recent weather.
You can still enjoy a flower bed full of lush foliage and colorful flowers by using drought resistant plants. These types of plants will need regular moisture until they get established but after that they will sail through hot, dry conditions easily. Some perennials that are drought tolerant are butterfly weed, lambs ear, sedum, yarrow, bachelors button and coneflower. Annuals that can take a dry period include lantana, gazania, floss flower and celosia. Adequately using mulch around your plants will reduce the soil temperature and decreases the loss of soil moisture that comes from evaporation.
If anyone has a good rain dance out there it’s time to get your boogie on! As always, Happy Gardening!
Karen Weiland, Purdue University Master Gardener, Purdue Extension, LaGrange County