As people leave their residence to go on vacation, many are not thinking about the health of their plants and have not even planned for their care. In the rush to prepare for the much-needed vacation, many will hire house sitters and pet sitters but will not consider their plants until they get home. Normally the homeowner gets home after a well-rested time off to find their plants in dire stress or dead. This year can be different with a little planning and some help from Outdora.
One solution that some homeowners may explore and even use is a plant sitter. This is an individual that specializes in plant care and in some situations has formal training. Their job requires them to care for plant material inside and out. While this is one approach to plant care, it can be expensive and trust can be an issue when having strangers enter your home.
Another solution is to only use self-watering containers or design your own. This approach works well for small to medium size containers but is not practical for large containers.
To create a simple self-watering container requires wicking material, pot with a drainage hole in the bottom, and a plastic container that will hold the pot. The first step requires the gardener to run the wicking material up through the hole of the pot and up the side of the pot. Make sure that there is some of the wicking material hanging out of the drainage hole. Next, place soil in the pot and plant as usual. After the plant has been planted, place the pot in the plastic container and cut off any wicking material that is pooling on the bottom of the plastic container. The wicking material needs to hang straight and touch the bottom of the plastic container. Once the wicking material length has been adjusted, remove the pot and place water in the plastic container. After the pot has been placed back into the plastic container and the wicking material is in the water, the plant will be watered when needed.
This type of watering system works by capillary action and only delivers water to the plant when needed through the wick. While this approach works fine, it can be limiting and does not help the gardener with larger plants or plants in the garden space. This is where a hydrogel comes into play.
A hydrogel is a substance that can be either mixed into the soil before planting or applied to the soil surface when needed. It absorbs water and makes it available to plants with limited gardener assistance. Driwater combines the best of both worlds when considering a hydrogel.
Driwater is made from pure water and a patented food grade ingredient. The water is released to the plant when microorganisms in the soil start breaking it down.
Driwater can be used in three different ways depending on size of the plant and/or container. The 9-ounce gel pack is great for small containers. It requires the gardener to slit one side of the plastic casing. This casing is then placed on top of the soil with the cut side down.
The second way the gardener can use Driwater is by placing it closer to the root zone. To do this, simply dig a hole that is 2 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep. Once the hole is dug, push a reusable, plastic tube into the hole, remove the cap and moisten the inside of the tube. Remove the plastic casing from one of the 2-inch gel pacs and place it in the tube. Once the gel pac is inside the tube, place the cap back onto the plastic tube.
The third way of using Driwater is placing the quart size in the ground. This is great for large containers and landscape plants such as roses, shrubs and trees.
To use the quart size in manner requires the gardener to dig a hole that is large enough so that ¾ of the container is in the ground. Once this is done, cut off the bottom of the container and place in the hole. Fill in the hole with soil and water.
If you do not want the quart size container of Driwater to show, simply bury it under the soil. To do this, cut the container lengthwise or widthwise and bury it. Once the cardboard container is empty, it will decompose and become compost.
When using Driwater with trees, one must know where the root zone is located. The easiest way of discovering where the root zone is located is to look for the tree’s drip line. A tree’s drip line is the line created around the tree by the branches that hang out the farthest. This invisible line is as far as the tree’s roots go and is where the Driwater needs to be placed for the best effectiveness. Also, to prevent air pockets from forming in the soil, place the quart size Driwater not straight down but instead at an angle going toward the trunk of the tree.
So this year, plan on preparing your plants for your vacation. Driwater will leave your plants just as lush and green as you left them and the effects will last between one to three months. And for those who live in water restricting areas, Driwater can provide that much needed moisture without breaking the restriction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources. Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.