Gardens, lawns, trees and shrubs feel the burn of inevitable dry times in broilingGeorgia summers.But you can slake your plants’ thirst until the rains come, says Wayne McLaurin, ahorticulturist with the University of Georgia Extension Service.Plants need soil moisture to grow. In fact, a healthy plant is 75 percent to 90 percentwater. During this critical time in their growing season, plants just can’t do without, McLaurin says.”Vegetable crops need about an inch of water per weekfrom rain, irrigation or both,” he says. “Keep a rain gauge near the garden or check with the local weatherbureau for rainfall amounts. Supplement rainfall with irrigation water if needed.”During dry times, a single thorough, weekly watering of one to two inches (65 to 130gallons per 100 square feet) is enough for most soils. Wet soils five to six inches deepeach time you water, and don’t water again until the top few inches begin to dry out. Theaverage garden soil will store two to four inches of water per foot of depth.You can reduce the water you need by using some simple conservation techniques:* Add organic matter. Soil moisture may not be available to plants, particularly if thesoil is a heavy clay, which tends to retain water.For example, if four and a half inches of water per foot are in a heavy clay soil, aslittle as one and a half inches may be available for plants. A fairly high level of humusin the soil can make more water available to plants.Adding organic matter also improves the moisture-holding capacity of sandy soils.Although most water in sandy soil is available for plants, it drains so quickly that evena few days after rain, plants can’t reach it. Humus in sandy soil gives the watersomething to cling to until the plants need it. * Mulching can greatly reduce your watering needs. A three- to four-inch layer oforganic mulch can cut water needs in half.Mulch smothers weeds and keeps water from evaporating so fast from the soil. Organicmulches hold some water themselves and increase the humidity around a plant.Black plastic mulch also conserves moisture. But it may make the soil dramaticallyhotter during summer if it isn’>t covered by other mulches.* Shading and windbreaks can also help conserve moisture. Plants that wilt in verysunny areas can benefit from partial shade in the afternoon. Protect small plants. When the rains don’t come and the plants are suffering, it’s time to irrigate. “The home gardener has several options for wateringplants,”McLaurin says. “Usea sprinkler can, a garden hose with a fan nozzle or spray attachment, portable lawnsprinklers, a perforated plastic soaker hose, drip or trickle irrigation or asemiautomatic drip system.”Several types of drip or trickle equipment are available. The soaker hose is probablythe least expensive and easiest to use. It’s a fibrous hose that allows water to slowlyseep out along its length.Hoses perforated with tiny holes do the same thing: water slowly drips out of theholes. An emitter-type system works best for small raised beds or container gardens. Shorttubes, or emitters, extend from a main water supply hose and directly deposit water at theroots of selected plants.This is generally the most expensive form of irrigation and the hardest to set up. Butweeds don’t getwatered and you don’t lose much water through evaporation. Emitter systems are most effective when combined with coarse mulch or black plastic.Drip systems sometimes clog with soil particles or mineral salts from spring or wellwater. But some new designs include filters and self-flushing emitters.”Plants don’t waste water. People do,” McLaurin says.
Victory by the young West Indies squad in the recently concluded ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup brought not only relief, but unmitigated joy to the West Indian cricket fan who has suffered day after day, series after series, quarrel after quarrel, as those representing us, either on the field or off the field, appear to strive valiantly to make the game of cricket relevant only to those who are interested in the scores in a match. The following day, therefore, the red carpet treatment arranged by grateful fans to the returning conquerors was welcomed. However, the joy of the real cricket fan was tempered by the bizarre rush to claim responsibility for the victory by the much pilloried president of the West Indies Cricket Board, Mr Dave Cameron. As is now usual, Mr Cameron congratulated himself and the board for the “preparation” of the team before they reached Bangladesh, conveniently forgetting that the successful coach of the team, on his arrival in Bangladesh, bemoaned the lack of match preparation of the team before their arrival in the venue of the World Cup. COACH’S COMPLAINT The veracity of the coach’s complaint was revealed by the fact that our young heroes lost their three warm-up games against the host nation and also lost their opening game against England. After a start like that and the ensuing media firestorm after the win against Zimbabwe, the resilience and character shown by the team, and to no small extent, the coach and the experienced staff that accompanied the team, is one of the reasons the West Indies triumphed. It has absolutely nothing to do with Mr Cameron and his fellow executives, who are determined to stay in charge of West Indies cricket against the wishes of some fans, some prime ministers, and some of the ordinary citizens of this region. That cut like a knife when his self congratulatory statement was heard. Every fan and student of the game now recognises the importance of keeping this group of cricketers together, while continuously exposing them to superior skills. The call to “do a South Africa” and include fast bowling sensation Alzarri Joseph into the senior squad in time for the June series of international matches – as was done by South Africa after their triumph in the last World Cup on the back of their fast bowler, Kagisi Rabada – has been initiated by Tony Cozier, a noted West Indian scribe and cricket guru. This call is reasonable and makes excellent cricketing sense, but the implementation of this suggestion has to be ratified by a group of men (the selectors). Previous groups of young West Indians have been neglected, and as a consequence, they are out of the sport. As long as this board remains in charge, I do fear that the same neglect will follow, no matter what the president says now.