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Observing Plant Roots

Healthy plants start with healthy roots, so examine plant roots whenever you get the chance. Take note of the roots on your new transplants, and compare them to the roots you see at the end of the growing season when you are pulling up old plants. You’ll begin to get a feel for what healthy roots look and feel like—generally they are light in color, firm, and smooth. Examine diseased plants too, looking for signs of unhealthy roots.

Next time you walk down a sidewalk that has been cracked and buckled by tree roots, consider the force exerted by those growing roots—strong enough to break concrete! You may have a new appreciation for the hidden world beneath your feet!

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Quenching Thirst
Successful gardeners know that it’s better to water plants thoroughly once a week than to water a little every day, even if the total amount of water applied is the same. Why?

Repeated shallow watering encourages plants to form roots near the surface, where the water is. This leaves the roots vulnerable to drought, overheating, compaction, and pests. Watering deeply allows the plant to form an extensive root system that is better able to anchor the plant and withstand adverse conditions.