Five easy steps

first_imgBy Paul A. ThomasUniversity of GeorgiaFour straight years of drought dashed hopes for many a Georgiaflower bed. And last year’s rainy start turned dry in the end,fading late-summer colors as if to add insult to injury. What’s agardener to do?Your colorful flower bed can use the barest minimum of water andstill be the envy of the neighborhood. However, you’ll have toupgrade the way you’ve been gardening a bit.Step 1. There is no downside toadding organic matter to native soils. Try tilling in 4 to 6inches of it and leveling the soil without compacting it. Thiswill help the soil hold water without getting mushy in wetweather.Step 2. Start with plants thatdon’t require a lot of water. You’ll save water. And you’ll saveyourself a lot of time in the garden.Lantana, Celosia, Tithonia, Melampodium, Gomphrena, Dusty Miller,Vinca and old-timey petunias are some of the many annuals that,once established, require much less water than most. Avoid NewGuinea impatiens, hybrid petunias, salvias, torenias, ageratumsand marigolds.Plant as early as you can, too, after the last chance of frost.The more cool weather annuals have to develop roots, the betterthey can withstand dry times.Step 3. Use drip irrigation. Withwater dripping slowly rather than spraying out all over theplace, the water savings are significant. It’s efficient, becauseyou put the water only where it’s needed, and very little is lostto evaporation, assuming you cover the drip line with mulch.Compared to automated sprinkler systems, it’s cheap, too.It’s not that hard to install, either. You need only some driptape, several “y” adapters to take off drip lines from the maingarden hose and the patience to spread the tape out just afteryou transplant your bedding plants.Most hardware stores, garden centers or irrigation supply dealerswill have the hardware and will probably explain how to do this.Step 4. Add more pine straw thanyou may have used in past years. If you hand-place the strawbetween the bedding plants so as not to cover them up, a 4- to5-inch layer will greatly lower your water use. That much pinestraw does two vital things.First, it cuts down on the heat from the sun, allowing the soilto be several degrees cooler. This, in turn, lets the plants useless sugars at night, saving that food for more flowers andgrowth.Second, it keeps the wind from pulling moisture out of the soil.Less heat and less wind means less evaporation. So the water youapply with drip irrigation lasts longer.Step 5. Let the annuals dry outjust a bit before watering. Don’t water every day, or even everyday you can during water restrictions. Let the plants work fortheir water by growing roots deeper in the ground.Each time you water, irrigate long enough to saturate the soilthoroughly. Then let the entire bed go dry. Let the plants get tothe point that the new growth begins to flag or droop in theafternoon.As the plants get older and more established, this slight wiltingwill take many more days to happen than newly planted annuals.The bottom line is that you’ll be watering less often, even assummer heat chugs on.This procedure has worked well for commercial landscapers inAtlanta for the past 15 years. It has been proven to reduce waterloss by as much as 30 percent.It may take another hour to set up. But the reward is havingbeautiful flowers in dry, hot weather without spending yourevenings after work watering your flower beds or sadly watchingthem perish in the heat.(Paul Thomas is an Extension Service horticulturist with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.)last_img read more

Mourinho stance strengthens squad

first_imgChelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s unequivocal public support of his players in the face of criticism can only galvanise the squad for the challenges ahead, according to former Blues defender Frank Sinclair. Sinclair, an ambassador for the Prostate Cancer UK Men United Campaign, believes Mourinho’s stance will only serve to make the Chelsea dressing room stronger. “Jose is a master of mind games, and the one thing he likes to have within his group is a siege mentality. He has always been like that and gets his group of players behind him, and makes sure they are all pushing in the right direction,” Sinclair told Press Association Sport. “When he has a press conference, he protects his players and that shows he is 100 per cent behind them and wants the players to be the same with him. When you speak to the players, that is the spirit they have got.” Chelsea host Manchester City on Saturday evening, looking to extend their five-point lead at the top of the table. While Sinclair, 43, believes the Blues have what it takes to see off a City side beaten at home by Arsenal in their last league match, he warned against any complacency over what the run-in could yet bring. “It will be a tough game, but on the back of a great win in midweek, I would fancy Chelsea to get the result against Manchester City,” said Sinclair, who played more than 160 games for Chelsea between 1990 and 1998. “As for the title, Manchester City have already pegged back a nine-point lead earlier in the season, so all it takes is for Chelsea to have another blip and all of a sudden City are back in the ball game. “However, if Chelsea do win on Saturday, then you would not bet against them going on to win the championship with that advantage.” Chelsea will face Tottenham in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley on March 1. Sinclair feels while the west London club have more pressing targets, to get a trophy back in the Stamford Bridge cabinet would only serve to inspire the players for the bigger challenges which await. “It can breed confidence and be a spring board to what the main aims are for the season,” said Sinclair, who was part of Ruud Gullit’s Chelsea side which won the FA Cup in 1997 and then also the League Cup the following season under new Blues manager Gianluca Vialli before joining Leicester. “The priority will, of course, be to win the Premier League and go as far as possible in the Champions League, but for the likes of people like Diego Costa, who have come to the Premier League for the first time to play in such a big game at Wembley will stay with him for the rest of his life.” One of the latest initiatives from Prostate Cancer UK will see The Anchor Bankside pub, on London’s South Bank, be temporarily known as ‘The Men United Arms’ from where activities will be run to help celebrate and inspire male friendships. Sinclair lost his uncle to prostate cancer seven years ago, and is determined to help beat the disease. He said: “When you are in the sports industry, you almost feel you are invincible. You live the life of keeping fit naturally, training and playing, you kind of take it for granted, but at the same time you can’t be aware of something that is not visible, so it is important to get the check-ups, especially if there is a history in the family.” :: Visit to sign up for Prostate Cancer UK’s movement for men. Mourinho has been fined £25,000 and warned over his future conduct by the Football Association for claiming there was a “clear campaign” against Chelsea earlier in the season. Following the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg win over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, the Portuguese manager vehemently defended striker Diego Costa, who could face an immediate three-match suspension after subsequently being charged for an apparent stamp on Reds defender Emre Can. Press Associationlast_img read more