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Surviving drought

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Surviving drought

Postby belinda_mayer » Jul 17, 2012 7:38 pm

Hi everyone,

Looking for advice to deal with the drought and heat Ottawa has been going through. Unfortunately I didn't get any of the rains today.

I have extensive perennials gardens and live on well water. My rain barrels have been empty for weeks so I'm using well water to water my shrubs & plants. We personally haven't had any rain for over 4 weeks. I try to spread out my watering..I have 5 sprinkler zones...but am starting to reduce my watering so I don't dry out our well. I'm now running only one sprinkler per night, so one garden area, for about an hour. I then walk around and hand water any plants that look stressed. All in all it's a 2 hour ordeal per night and I'm not winning the battle. Most of my plants look stressed and dry.

Someone told me to cut back my perennials to the ground and just water the roots once per week. Is this valid or will it stress the plant out more? Will the perennials come back next year after dealing with drought or will they actually die? I tried some Google searches but didn't come up with anything. The most advice I saw was to do through watering once a week.

Thanks for the advice,
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Re: Surviving drought

Postby Ian66 » Jul 17, 2012 8:40 pm

Water the most stressed plants, newly planted and the most tender ones as not cut back your plants....the foliage is nourishing the root and if you cut them back, the root will be taxed trying to re-shoot new stems and leaves.....perennials are very hardy and will come through this drought....although the plants will not look and grow very well this season.....

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Re: Surviving drought

Postby CdnChelsea » Jul 17, 2012 10:09 pm

We have been having a drought here too. 3 weeks with no rain but the gardens have held up well thanks to a 3" layer of mulch to slow down evaporation and the mulch also helps keep the roots cool.

"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth
are never alone or weary of life" ~ Rachel Carson
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Re: Surviving drought

Postby mike in Ottawa » Jul 18, 2012 3:21 pm

Belinda i dont know where you are in the Ottawa area, but i'm in Greely and also on a well, we have been running our sprinkler system every night, for about 3 hours, (we are on acre lot) so about 30 mins in each of the zones, even so our grass is not in to good a shape, but at least it has a green tint in most areas. I also have about 10 flower beds which also get hit with the sprinkler systems but what has saved the flower gardens is 3-4 inch of wood chips i put down on them, and these were all free courtesy of Ottawa Hydro.
they are out in the south part of the city, Manotick/osgoode/greely etc chopping down any trees that are close to the power lines, they chop the trees down to large log size and then leave them there, knowing very well that people will come along and pick them upfor firewood, about a weel later they come along with a chipper and chip up all the branches and any wood that is still there. I was able to get a few wheel barrows full of logs and when they came back to do the chipping, i went and asked them what they did with the chips they told me they took them to the dump, i asked if it was possible they could dump some at my property, no problem so i received about a 5 ton load of wood chips, since then i have got 2 more, one of my neighbours has taken 5 loads and another 2.
The thing with the wood chips is 3 fold, 1. they insulate the plants i had crocosmia bulbs last year which do not survive here they came through no problem, i also forgot a few glad bulbs even they survived. 2. they keep the moisture from evaporating, when i dig down through the mulch, the earth is still damp and i have an abundance of earth worms which we did'nt have before as we are on a mostly sand based soil. and 3. they prevent most weeds from growing through and if they do they are to pull out.
Sorry for such a long winded reply, i would check the depth of your well and if you are in a high water table area you should have no problem, i know out in the Osgoode area some wells have run dry but they were probably in older homes which had shallow wells.
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Re: Surviving drought

Postby ben01 » Jul 18, 2012 10:49 pm

I'm in Southern Ontario: Richmond Hill which is just north of Toronto.

We have drought in this region, too; no rain for weeks. My lawn is brown, and I am constantly struggling with my flowers.

All of the trees are noticeably stressed.

I can't remember such a tough year for plants; the early spring that woke everything up, then the late frost that attacked the woken plants, and now the unending heat and dryness.

I am amazed at the diligence of the topic poster.
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Re: Surviving drought

Postby kelly_m » Jul 19, 2012 8:26 am

Having a full watering ban in my area...I am jealous of anyone on wells!! LOL

Am not holding out hope for much success in the garden at all this year. I do manage to water some of the most stressed plants....with a watering can...but this is not near enough for the larger clumps of plants that are stressed!

Weatherornotmen have been teasing us with threats of t-storms......never happens!
Zone 5a/b

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Re: Surviving drought

Postby Grannygardener » Jul 19, 2012 12:20 pm

This is going to sound almost as bad as the old tale of walking through the deep snow for miles on the blowing wind up hill to get to school. However , I do remember as a kid in the summer using the bath water and dish washing water to water the gardens. The soap must have helped to ward off bugs cause they never seemed to be a problem.A lot of work but when water's at a premium you do what you can. Also on Canada AM earlier this week Mark Cullen said not to worry about your lawns if they go brown because grass will go dormant for a long period of time and then in Aug. or whenever will start to grow again. Similarly with your well established perrenials. Their root system should be deep enough that they can survive with very little watering. He said that if you need to water anything put the water on your annuals. and potted plants and your veggie gardens. Edie
I've spent most of my time in the garden,the rest I've wasted. Edie Zone4A, Ont.
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Re: Surviving drought

Postby Peggy2296 » Jul 21, 2012 1:08 pm

All of my perennials are newly planted this year, so of course we have a drought! :lol:

I have a layer of cedar mulch which helps quite a bit and I formed "bowls" around each plant as I put it in the ground so I go around each evening and fill the bowls with water. So far I haven't lost a single plant also some, like my Geums, came close to expiring.

I agree it's the annuals suffering the most. All the impatiens are planted are leggy and mostly devoid of flowers no matter how much I water them. They just couldn't take the sun and hot dry winds.
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Re: Surviving drought

Postby belinda_mayer » Jul 22, 2012 12:15 pm

Yeah i have started saving my dishwater and am considering putting a bucket in the shower too as funny as that sounds. I have mulch everywhere, forgot to mention that, but even with mulch it is too dry. I think next year any plants that don't come back will get replaced with grasses, they seem to be fairing better than anything else.
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