Overwatering vs Underwatering

Originally published in Williston Herald’s “Bakken Living” Q3 of 2019

As I sit writing this on a bright sunny morning, I am reminded that the long days of summer are upon us.  During these days, the sun gets up early in the morning and goes to bed very late. These are generally also days of warm temperatures, although we have been given a little reprieve from those this summer.  Temps are seasonably colder than years past. We’ve had very few days above 90 and reasonably cool nights. This is good gardening weather as plants (like people) benefit from some cool evening rests.  

What many of us could probably do without are some of the radical storms that have been passing through on a consistent basis.  Large amounts of water at a single time can be a problem for many plants. Among plants that handle it the least are perhaps lilac.  I was visiting with someone last week who had that very issue. Large amounts of water had flooded their flowerbed and left water standing for a couple of days.  Their lilacs were looking very sick, with droopy papery leaves. By the time they had brought this picture to me, the leaves had turned brown. “What are the chances of saving these shrubs?” They asked.  My reply was a sad, “I don’t hold much hope for them. ”While there are many plants that handle being wet better than a lilac it isn't uncommon in periods of intense rain, for the OLDER leaves of plants to turn yellow and fall off.  Such a thing is not a serious concern.

Large amounts of water at a single time can be a problem for many plants.

Remember that when we receive a good rain like the one we received earlier this year, we receive a break from needing to water.  When you get a good half an inch to an inch of rain you can consider that a watering application for your plants. Do allow some time between that rain before you water again.  Anywhere from two to five days could be normal, depending upon the daytime temps and conditions. I noticed this past week several individuals bringing me pictures of their gardens and yellowing leaves on tomato and melon plants.  “Just a little too much water,” I said. “Not much we can do about it. Allow them to dry out a little bit more between watering.”  

What we haven’t had many questions on this year (speaking of tomatoes, that is) is the popular Blossom End Rot.  Sometimes (generally in mid-summer) tomato fruit can develop a black spot on the back end or bottom of the tomato.  This condition is known as Blossom End Rot. There are products that you can purchase to help reduce the chances of this problem from occurring, but more often than not, it is simply too inconsistent a watering cycle.  These are generally warm months (July and August) and also times when we take our vacations. If plants are left to fend for themselves for too long, they may get overly dry between waterings. When this happens, the nutrients in the soil are tied up, and no longer available to the plant.  When the plant needs those nutrients, it often takes them back from the fruit, resulting in this condition. Regular fertilizing of your gardens, as well as a consistent but strict water regiment, will result in generous crops of tomatoes and other veggies.

We do have some fun workshop opportunities here at the nursery coming up.  Always visit our website and social media pages to learn more about them. If you’re not handy with computers, pick up the phone and give us a call (701)572-6083.  We’re always interested in new topics and ideas of what you’d like to learn about. We also have a great selection of succulents and tropical house plants available.  We hope you will visit us again soon. Until then, Happy growing!