On Watering and Fetes in May

This week in the garden, summer temperatures have arrived at last and with them we will be kept busy watering the plants in the greenhouses and garden, and if temperatures remain high we may have to start watering plants twice a day.

We have been selling a fair amount of plants so to replenish our sales stocks we will be sowing more herbs, vegetables and ornamentals.

The seed beds in the upper and lower four crop need to be regularly weeded so the seedlings get off to a good start.

A number of the compost bays could do with being turned, and this will help speed up the decomposition processes, making compost faster. If the weather remains hot and dry we may even need to water the compost a little and cover the heaps with tarpaulins to keep in sufficient moisture. Like many organic processes compost making is a matter of balance, needing the heap to be neither too wet nor too dry. We do not want the heaps to be standing in water nor to be as dry as a bone.

Now for a few thoughts about what happens when plants suffer water stress, otherwise known as drought, so you can see why a dry spell could have long lasting effects on plants even after the dry spell has passed.  And why we need to water thoroughly!

Water stress is the absence of rainfall or sufficient irrigation to prevent plants from being injured. Water stress arises when the water loss from a plant exceeds the ability of its roots to absorb water and when the plant’s water content is reduced sufficiently to interfere with normal plant processes. Water is essential for life and is a major component of plant cells, and the medium in which growth processes occur. Without adequate water, biological processes, such as photosynthesis, are greatly reduced. Reduced photosynthesis means reduced plant growth, including root growth.

Water is also the driving force of transpiration – the process by which a plant moves water from the roots throughout the plant and is lost through the leaves. Transpiration is the way dissolved mineral nutrients are transported from the soil to the rest of the plant. It is also how a plant cools itself by water vapour loss through its leaves. Insufficient water means that life processes within a plant are restricted, nutrients can’t be drawn in by roots from the soil, leaf stomata (the small pores in leaves where gaseous exchange takes place, essential for photosynthesis and respiration) close to prevent further water loss resulting in reduced photosynthesis, the plant wilting and being unable to cool itself.

In the root system of a plant, tiny, delicate root hairs extending from the extremities of the root system are responsible for the bulk of water uptake. Confined to the upper 40cm or so of the soil in which the plant is planted, they are the first part of the root system affected by dry soil conditions. With the loss of root hairs, the water absorbing capacity of the plant is severely reduced.  Even after a drought has ended, it may take months for a plant to repair damaged root systems and regain its growth capacity it had prior to the drought.

In other BPCG news, this Saturday May 12th is our May Fete so we won’t be doing any gardening, other than watering.  If you’d like to come and help out at the May Fete, please do! It should be great fun.  Come along to help from 9am in the morning until after 5pm when we will be tidying up.  Or you can help out by m/baking something for the afternoon tea party.  (please be sure to write down the ingredients on a card or label and don’t use nuts.)  Don’t worry about doing anything fancy – it’s not Bake Off!

Another request….(sorry!)  children will be dressing our scare-crows at the May Fete so if you have any clothes you want to get rid of that you think would look good on a scarecrow please pop them along to the greenhouses this week so the children at the May Fete can have fun dressing them up – and maybe dressing themselves up too!

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