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Report From PIA – July 31

As I help people with their landscapes, one of the problems that comes up repeatedly is their dreadful watering practices. No, I’m not going to mince words: the way most people water is insufficient but wasteful, and bad for plants.

In this area it’s not uncommon to have automatic sprinkler systems set to go off every day, or every other day, for ten to twenty minutes. This keeps the surface of the soil constantly wet (leading to crown rot, leaf spot, and every lawn disease in the book) while the roots underneath go dry.

It’s not unusual for people to have plants that are rotting on the top while the plant is dying of thirst. A similar situation happens with those who are hand watering. They sprinkle too frequently but shallowly.

After explaining the wisdom of watering deeply but less often, I usually ask these homeowners to think about area woods and fields that only nature tends. No one is watering these plants for fifteen minutes a day, right? Yes, the wild plants may wilt during a drought, but all in all they are adapted to having periodic deep soakings followed by times when the soil dries out.

The problem is that people have stopped noticing what is happening around them. They have ceased to pay attention to how nature works in their own backyards.

Yes, we all lead busy lives, and it’s hard to find time for extended periods of observation and pure contemplation. We pay a price for our inattention, in our dealings with the natural world, our relationships with other people and even ourselves.

Might it be possible to step back on a regular basis and start from the very beginning by simply noticing what’s around us, and how things naturally work?

No one sprinkles these fields and woods in Chatham, NY every day. Doesn't it make sense to emulate Mother Nature when it comes to our gardening practices?

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