I walked into a customer’s house today. “You smell hot”, she says. I’ve never been told that before. I’ve never smelled “hot”. Never thought about it, really. My first inclination was to sniff my armpits. Wouldn’t we all when told we smell hot? So, I asked her, “Do I stink?”. “No, you just smell hot.”
Little did she know that her comment on the way back from her house less than a half hour ago changed the whole direction of my email. Struggling, I’ve gone back and forth with subject matter for this email. It’s hot outside. I can talk about watering your plants. I can talk about drip irrigation, blah, blah, blah. All the things you probably already know.
Truth be told, I am hot. It is hot. And, contrary, I am not sweating like a pig for the simple fact that I am not a pig. And pigs don’t sweat. Pigs roll around in the mud, dogs pant, and a rabbit’s ears, with all of the blood vessels running through them, act as radiators. And, believe it or not, vultures poop. Who knew? You can look that up on Google because I’m not going to type why. It might get me in trouble.
Plants sweat as well. Well, not really. Sweat in plants is called transpiration.
Okay. Stop reading this email. Go run a mile right now and I will bet you, you got sweaty. You also probably got tired and thirsty. What did you do? If you are a normal human being and not a cyborg, you probably drank water to rehydrate. Transpiration in plants is like evaporative cooling in a house. It brings down the temperature of the plants. Without getting too techno, there is a system within the plants similar to a sweat gland that opens and closes and lets moisture out. These cells are sensitive to light, temperature, wind, humidity and carbon dioxide. I’m trying to stay out of the scientific side of this, so, in short, this leads to water loss and must be accurately regulated. Functional transpiration in a plant is the continuation of the pumping of water or sap that allows water flow to continue. Did you know that 10% of water that evaporates into the atmosphere comes from plants?
Can we step off the subject for a minute? Do you remember in California when brown was the new green? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I understand we had a water shortage. However, can you imagine losing 10% of the moisture that enters into the atmosphere and what that would create? Who knows what the future brings with California’s water. I have no crystal ball, but I do hope by now we have learned to adapt and water wisely, instead of letting things simply die. Do you have a neighbor on your block who let their yard die? Looking back at that decision was it the wisest one to make?
Getting back on track. We now know that plants sweat and why they sweat. So can I share a few tips for keeping your plants alive within the furnace of Hell?
Tip No. 1 – Water
Tip No. 2 – Water
Tip No. 3 – Water
Now, I’m being facetious. But, I think you get my point. So, let’s get to the real tips.
If you have drip emitters, move your drip emitters to the uphill side of the plant. It will allow water to run through it and not away from it.
If you haven’t already, work the soil up around the plant. Winter rains and hand watering by hoses can harden the top layer of soil, allowing water to simply escape away. Water basins won’t hurt around plants in the summer time.
It is possible to see a plant wilt in the afternoon heat, only to spring back in the evening when the temperatures cool. I call this afternoon wilt. The ground may be wet, but the sheer temperature of the soil and the air makes the plant wilt. This happens when a plant is transpiring or sweating more moisture than it can take in. When temperatures cool down, the plant regulates itself. Ta dah! It’s like magic. You don’t have to run out and water EVERYTHING. Just go out and give a thirsty friend a cup of water.
So, the customer’s house I visited earlier had some wilting plants. I asked her, “How much are you watering your plants?”. She replied, “I just upped it two more minutes.” “Up from what?”, I asked. “I went from 5 minutes everyday. I’m now at 7 minutes every day.” For those of you who know me, I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve and tend to say things that get me in trouble. “Well, you’re killing your yard”, I said. “I am not”, she replied.
I suggested that she increase her watering up to 30 minutes per day. She gasped. “That’s a lot of water. Do you know what that’s going to cost me on my water bill?” I replied, “Do you know what it’s going to cost you to replant your yard?”. I went on to say, “If the average drip emitter puts out 1 gallon per hour, what is 7 minutes of water to that tree?” Less than a pint. For all you bakers out there, is that 2 cups of water?
Now, if you were crazy enough to actually stop reading the email, go jog and come back, is two cups of water going to be enough for you to keep you alive? Probably not. And, if you kept up this practice of jogging and not drinking enough water, you will too, like her landscape, die a slow, agonizing death due to dehydration and cardiac arrest.
Back to 30 minutes of watering. That’s a half a gallon. Still not enough. So, your water bills going to go up by 10 bucks to get your plants through the heat. The cost of re-landscaping your yard ….?
Now, I know why I carry my cell phone everywhere I go. Say hello to a friend that arrived at the nursery the other night. Take one look and tell me how this magnificent dragonfly disperses heat. Could it possibly be the four radiators attached to its body?
Nature is amazing. Take a walk in your yard and learn to see it.
Trains, Trains and Trains — The Next Event at Maple Rock
September 9th, join us at Maple Rock. Live steam engines, BBQ and live music. Come see the trains and steam engines presented by Sacramento Valley Railroad Society. Tickets are $10 and parking is free. Click here to purchase your tickets.
VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, PRETTY PLEASE
We are also trying to win the Best of the Best contest. So, if you feel compelled please click here to learn more. You’ll find the links at the bottom of our page for the categories for which we’ve been nominated. Vote for High-Hand Nursery and vote for High-Hand Cafe. We will love you for it.
As the Most Interesting Man in the World might say, “Stay cool, my friends.”
See you at High Hand Nursery. Keep up the voting.
P.S. A secret for you. Click here to go to the cafe page. There are a couple coupons there for you. Enjoy.