Joel In The Garden

Warm and dry June leads gardeners to water early

Warm and dry June leads gardeners to water early »Play Video
Plants are thirsty this year

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EUGENE, Ore. - Jay O'Leary picked a warm week to be playing catch-up in his garden. 

“I hope mine will come up to standard with a little bit of elbow grease,” O’Leary said.

And quite a bit of water. O'Leary isn't alone. Plenty of gardeners are watering about a month earlier than normal, using everything from sprinklers to soaker hoses.

“Everyone thinks in Oregon, it rains all of the time. But we have a Mediterranean climate and dry summers,” O’Leary said.

Dry and warm is not a bad thing. It means gardeners can plant any seeds they want right now. It's also ideal conditions for tomatoes.

“It's really good thing, it's encouraging everything to get a nice head start and start growing fast,” Christopher Douglass from Down to Earth in Eugene said.

Another product you can try to give your plants a good start is called Reemay cloth. It's a natural barrier from both the wind and insects, but it only blocks out a minimal amount of sunlight.

“As well, it can be used over seeds in an area where you direct sow to help keep that soil a little more moist and warm,” Douglass said.

Soft herbs like basil should be protected from too much heat, as they can easily scorch. And weeding remains a constant job.

“I've hauled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of that invasive grass out,” O’Leary said.

To keep out weeds, you can rake up dead grass clippings to use as a natural ground cover and to hold in moisture.

“You could use a soaker hose setup or a drip setup underneath if you want to go that route and put it on a timer. It makes it really easy,” Douglass said.

“It's a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun. Also you get a reward when you get to harvest,” O’Leary said.

A few things are ready for harvesting right now, including big red radishes and raspberries.

Douglass says to be careful not to overwater your tomatoes. They only need to be watered about once a week. And you should water them from the ground level, not on the leaves to prevent the spread of disease.