We’ve finally gotten our summer here in the Pacific NW and it’s been pretty hot for a few weeks. The plants weren’t really prepared for this, so we’ve had to irrigate quite a bit to keep all that lush foliage happy. So the topic of this podcast is Water Works – focusing on how water moves in the soil and through plants.
One of the more interesting tidbits I found this week is a recent USDA study on growing more potatoes with less water. Sound impossible? Listen to find out the one single, simple thing that increased water use efficiency by 12% and reduced fertilizer runoff as well.
I also debunk the common myth about using drainage material in container plants. Research from 100 years ago demonstrated that water won’t cross textural barriers – so putting gravel in the bottom of the pot will actually create a bathtub effect rather than helping drainage.
The interview this week is with my garden – primarily the sunny south-facing side. I thought I’d take you on a tour to see what’s happened in the last 11 years. The photos below will help you visualize the interview.
The front yard in 2003. We’ve started taking out the turf and moving around trees and shrubs.
The front yard in 2003 from another angle. We’ve removed the second driveway and covered the area in wood chips. By the garage you can see two of the roses I dug up from the shady back yard and moved to the sunny front.
The new front yard, with fencing, more plants, a pond, and no turf.
The rhody-hydrangea corner in front of the arbor vitae hedge
The new street garden, with a new retaining wall to hold back the soil that used to wash into the street. Everything not covered in plants is covered with wood chips.
This is the last podcast of the first “season” of The Informed Gardener. We’re going to take off for about a month before starting the next series. If you’ve got ideas about future topics, you can email me or post a comment here. In the meantime, you can listen to archived podcasts found on this blog; just click on “podcasts” on the right-hand menu.
5 thoughts on “Podcast #8 – Water Works”
Hi Linda, Lovin’ the podcasts. Keep them coming. I have a question about water not crossing textural boundaries. How does sheet mulching work on existing compacted soils? If I put a layer of compost in my bad-soiled bamboo containers, does the compost just hold the water at the top?
Carol, sheet mulching is not very effective on compacted soils. It doesn’t have the three-dimensional structure and corresponding pore network for water and air to move through freely
. Compost, if not layered too deeply, holds water and wicks it slowly to keep the soil below hydrated. (If the compost is too deep, it tends to become soggy since pore spaces are relatively small to begin with.)
Thank you for the response. I’ll try to work the compst in to the existing soil – see if that makes the bamboo happier.
Carol, you can just let nature work the compost in for you. Water, worms, and time will incorporate the organic matter without you having to lift a finger.
I love your water works podcast.