Seasonal Gardening: Low-Water Lawn Care, Low-Nitrate Carrots and Protecting Crops

The Seasons of the Garden column shares seasonal gardening news briefs on low-water lawn care, low-nitrate carrots and protecting crops.

| July/August 1988

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    Help your yard kick that water-guzzling habit. Crop tubes can mean big yields from small fields.

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The Seasons of the Garden column shares seasonal gardening information and tips with MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers. 

Seasonal Gardening: Low-Water Lawn Care, Low-Nitrate Carrots and Protecting Crops

Summer heat and dry weather often add up to low water supplies. You may have already done a lot to minimize outdoor water use by mulching your flower and vegetable beds and installing drip irrigation around your shrubs and tree crops. But are you doing anything for your grassed areas? Lawns are frequently the biggest water guzzlers in home landscapes. Proper care can make a difference in how much water you need to keep grass green and healthy. Here're a few guidelines:

Frequent low mowing creates a dense grass canopy. Since little air flows around such short-cropped leaves, little water gets "wicked away" by wind. However, high-mowed grass has more extensive roots than low-cut blades, so it withstands drought better. Thus, a low-mowed lawn may use less water over a season than a high-mowed one, but it needs it more often. Lawn-care experts suggest a compromise: Mow the grass frequently at a moderate height.

Don't overfertilize with nitrogen, or the leaves will grow too quickly and use more water. Too much N also restricts root development, further increasing watering needs. On the other hand, adding extra potassium and iron may enhance root growth and improve drought tolerance. In fact, adding iron can make a low-N lawn look as green as a high-N one.

Last, if you're starting a new lawn, check with your local garden supply store or extension agent. Several new grass cultivars have lower water needs than most common varieties.

Seasonal Gardening Research Briefs

Low-nitrate carrots. Russian trials show that carrots grown in high-nitrogen soil have high concentrations of nitrates (which are potential carcinogens)—unless the soil is also high in phosphorus and potassium. So for your and your carrots' best health, give them a balanced (fertilizer) diet.

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