Volume 14, Issue 22 ~ June 1 - June 7, 2006

The Bay Gardener

By Dr. Frank Gouin

When to Water the Garden

Weekly and mid-day or, better yet, at night

Daily watering is bad for every garden. Keeping the soil constantly wet limits root growth. Light, daily irrigations causes roots to grow shallow, making them more susceptible to drought damage due to limited root distribution.

Alternate wetting and drying of the soil is what stimulates roots to grow. A single heavy application of water weekly is all that is needed to successfully grow a garden.

Never spray heavy drops of water directly on the soil. The impact destroys soil structure. A breaker commonly known as a shower head is the ideal tool for watering the garden by hand. It allows for a volume of water to be applied as mild rain drops. Minimize the damage of large water droplets (and reduce the loss of water by evaporation) by laying a half-inch of compost or light mulch over the soil.

Proper watering also helps avoid such leaf diseases as powdery mildew, frog eye and black spot on roses.

Most leaf diseases are caused by the foliage remaining wet for 14 hours or more. To avoid the spread of disease on the leaves of plants, don’t water in the early morning. Wait until an hour after foliage has dried from the dew. To make certain that the foliage is completely dry by evening, never water after 4pm.

Night is the best time to water. The loss of water by evaporation is minimized, so more water goes into the soil. Since foliage will already become wet with dew, water applied at night will dry at the same rate that the dew dries in the morning.

A Green Bean to Last the Summer

This pole bean grows by the yard

You like to eat fresh string beans but only have limited space. And you certainly don’t like the back-breaking task of harvesting regular bush beans in the garden. Try growing yard-long beans like the Gita variety. Gita is essentially a pole bean producing beans with the diameter of a pencil that grow between 24 inches to 36 inches long. Not only are they easy to harvest, but a single planting will produce beans all summer long — providing you keep them well watered and frequently harvested. The beans are tender with a flavor that is equal to or better than that of any bush bean on the market.

For maximum yield and tender beans, plant them in full sun near a trellis seven to eight feet high. An eight-foot-long row will supply a family of four with all the beans they can eat and store — if you harvest them at least twice weekly.

Gita are not affected by insects or diseases, an important feature for organic gardeners.

Gita is also good for home-freezing, as it’s easily blanched in the microwave and freezes well. There is no loss of flavor from freezer storage for at least eight months.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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