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  • The root of the matter

    Posted on March 22nd, 2010 Pam No comments

    Do you know how long roots can get? Well I was shocked to find out that the huarango tree that grows in Peru has the longest roots in the world extending to 80 meters (over 250 feet).
    But as you can see from the picture below, a tomato plant has pretty long roots too. I pulled this extra one up from some that I am starting in the house. I was very surprised at the size of the root. This tomato plant is about 2 weeks old. The root is as long as the stem, aproximately 3″ long.

    The reason I am showing this picture to you is to remind you that just because the soil is dry on top, the plant may not need water because the roots go deeper than we think. We want to encourage the plant to have long roots and to search for water well below the top of the soil. In short, water deep and less often.

    A good test to check to see if your plants need water is to get a handful of soil from 4″ to 6″ deep in the ground. Squeeze it and if it breaks apart easily, the plant needs water, if it forms a ball and leaves mud on your hand, the ground is still wet and your plant probably does not need water.

    This is a good test to see if your ground can be worked, too. You can drop the ball you have formed on the ground, if it breaks apart you can usually work your ground. If you dig or work your soil when it is too wet you can pack it down so much you create cloddy, compacted soil. And when you plant your plants, much needed air can’t get to the roots. If you have worked with clods, you know it is much harder to work the ground in your garden.

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