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Fear for your garden! The Eagle shares experts' drought-fighting tips

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Brooklyn is the city of churches — and of gardens.

Those gardens are now in jeopardy, as temperatures hang in the 90s for days on end, even returning to ultra-high temperatures after rainfall.

Many brownstones and single-family houses from one end of the borough to the other have their own gardens, whether they’re in front of the house (in Carroll Gardens) or in the back yard (almost everywhere else).

Community gardens are spread across the borough, with a proliferation in Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Park Slope and Fort Greene; more in Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York; and the borough’s largest one in Floyd Bennett Field.

There are institutional gardens, such as the Children’s Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and equivalents at many elementary schools.

The Brooklyn Eagle asked several experts how the borough’s outdoor gardeners can preserve their squash, tomatoes, sunflowers, roses, basil and other plants.

As could be expected, they all said that lots of watering was key but they gave divergent answers on almost everything else.

Joe Merola, owner of Kings County Nurseries in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, said, “It’s important to keep up with watering and do it daily at this time of year, especially with high heat.” However, he said it is best to water in the morning, since watering in the evening can contribute to disease among plants.

“Also, keep an eye out for insects and disease at this point, since the heat and humidity contribute to them,” he said.

Kimberly Sevilla, owner of Rose Red & Lavender in Ridgewood, said plants should be watered twice a day, in the morning or evening. Certain plants that wilt quickly in hot weather, like lettuce or kale, should be covered with cheesecloth to stay shielded from the sun.

If a gardener is going away for a few days, she said, a good solution is to take a container, fill it up with a few inches of water, then put the plants in their temporarily.

Lauren Work, an employee of Zuzu’s Petals in Park Slope also said plants, in extreme heat, should be watered two or three times a day. “It’s best in the morning or evening,’ she said.

Tracy Fitz of the 6/15 Garden, also in Park Slope, told the Eagle that one should not only water early in the morning and in the evening, but one should water plants “down by the roots” so they get the full benefit of watering.

Rose DiCostanzo of Chelsea Garden Center in Red Hook (yes, it was once located in Chelsea, Manhattan) said that for those people who keep their outdoor plants in containers, how often they should be watered depends on the size and material of the container.

“The smaller the container, the more water in takes,” she said. “Also, if plants are in a plastic container, water them longer.”

When outdoor plants are planted in the ground, she added, they should get at least an inch of water a week. Those that are in the shade don’t have to be watered every day, but those that are in the sun must be watered daily. Mulching helps keep the water in.

“In this type of heat,” said DiCostazo, “I’d rather over-water and get a few yellow leaves than under-water and lose the plant.”

July 18, 2012 - 5:19pm


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