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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Drought's impact on homeowners

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Not a day goes by that we are not reminded of the drought and its impact on our communities.

Much of what has been discussed concerning the drought has focused on farming.

However, homeowners are being impacted by it, too.

Several homeowners around have gardens that are struggling to deal with the drought.

In the case of tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, cucumbers and beans, you may not be seeing a crop this year because they are experiencing blossom drop due to temperatures above 90-degrees.

There is really nothing you can do to prevent blossom drop from happening.

Instead, you just have to wait until the cooler temperatures arrive and hope fruit sets in.

Extreme temperature and soil moisture has brought on some blossom-end rot (a dry, leathery scarring on the blossom end of the fruit) in tomatoes, peppers and squash.

Watering your plants and mulching will help minimize this problem some.

If temperatures do not lighten up, gardeners may not get a second cool season crop this year.

That is because the hot weather would cause the plants to bolt (produce seed stalks).

You are more likely to see that in lettuce and spinach.

Established ornamental plants such as hosta, lilies, yew, etc., could benefit from deep watering every couple of weeks.

Newly planted shrubs need to be watered to help them survive the drought.

It is best to occasionally water them deeply, by applying 1-1.5 inches of water around the root zone.

For newly planted trees, it is best to follow the 10+5 rule to help them survive this drought.

The 10+5 rule means you should provide the tree with 10 gallons of water plus 5 gallons for every diameter inch of tree trunk.

For established trees, a good rule is to provide an inch of supplemental water every week or so.

Many woody plants may continue to show effects of the drought into the extended future.

Some branches may die back during the winter and fall to leaf out in 2013.

In the case of twig injury, the stems may leaf out, but die back later in spring or summer as that branch becomes stressed.

The ultimate question that is on almost every homeowner's mind is, "What has the drought done to my lawn?"

The answer to that question cannot be completely answered at this time.

Yes, all the lawns around West Central Indiana are brown and crispy, but that does not mean your grass is dead.

It may have gone into a dormant state. Thus, let your grass go brown and avoid walking on it.

Walking on brown crispy grass repeatedly can cause it to die out and most likely not recover from the drought.

It will not be until next spring that we know for sure what places in your lawn needs to be reseeded.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Aug. 3-19 -- Indiana State Fair,

* Aug. 9 -- Drought Resource Meeting, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Vigo County Fairgrounds. Call 448-9041 for more information,

* Aug. 15 -- Nitrate Testing on Corn, 6-8 p.m., Putnam County Fairgrounds Goat Barn. Free testing. Call 448-9041 for more information,

* Aug. 21 -- Start of the Indiana Master Naturalist Course, 6-9 p.m. Call 812-829-5020 to sign up. Cost is $55, and

* Oct. 4-6 -- State Master Gardener Conference, Hamilton County Fairgrounds. For more information, log on to