In the Garden:
Tropical South
June, 2004
Regional Report

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Rain at last, and our garden struggles with drought are over for the year.

Save Waste and Worry: Turn Off The Water

Rain has returned! God really does provide for great gardens without wasting the water our grandchildren will need for drinking.

May -- the hottest, driest month -- is always a struggle. But the struggle is over for this year. Now we can relax and save 45 percent on our water bills by turning OFF the irrigation system for the
summer AND still keep our property in A-1 condition.

"Oh, but we have a rain sensor," said one man. A rain sensor is required by the law. But sometimes they are never even attached to the system, and they often fail to function properly. It is both a terrible waste and a danger to the turf and other plants to water again in the next day or two after getting an inch of rain. Too much water can lead to diseases and stress that can bring insect problems.

Irrigation Systems Need Constant Maintenance
The trouble with irrigation systems is they are often set to water in the dead of night, a very good time for watering except that no one is likely to notice if they are working right or not. Also, many of the systems, especially the older ones, are very hard to figure out. So just turn your system off for now. If we go a whole week without rain, which is very unlikely, turn it back on the manual setting, water well, and then turn it off again.

I would be the last to tell you this if I wasn't sure that you can grow any type of plant without wasting water or breaking water restrictions. One gardener who has a lovely yard that includes
flowers, fruiting and flowering trees, shrubs, and vegetables is spending $17 a month while many of his neighbors are spending $70 a month just for grass.

Most plants will thrive with an inch of water a week. Get a rain gauge or use empty tuna cans to check rainfall amounts. As long as we're getting a half inch twice a week, most plants won't need any additional watering. Those in containers, those newly planted, and roses for exhibition would be the only exceptions.

Don't be like the average person who never touches the controls of his automatic sprinkler system. If you turn the system off now and back on when the rains stop, you can cut water use, as we said above, by 45 percent. If you adjust your system eight times a year (monthly except in the summer), you can cut that water use (still from the waste) by up to 75 percent.


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