Did you know that vegetables are made of mostly water. The water content of a veggie like a tomato or cucumber is 95%. That is a lot of water. Leaving out this important aspect of gardening will leave a gardener frustrated with their harvest.
So here are all the details for you on watering, plus some ways to get the job done.
When to Water
Remember we are watering the roots of the plant, so we need to water deeply. A good heavy watering 2 – 3 times per week is much more beneficial to plants than a shallow watering every day. To achieve a deep watering, make sure when you stick you finger into the soil, you feel wet all the way down. A good quality soil will hold moisture for the next day or so, and you can come back and replenish with another good soak. Remember, most plants like their soil to be the consistency of a sponge. Moist but not wet, so that the roots can absorb the water at the rate they would like to and as they need it.
It is also important to water in the mornings, instead of evenings because you’ll lose less water to evaporation by watering before the heat of the day sets in. If you get water on plant leaves, they’ll have plenty of time to dry, which reduces the chance of fungal and disease problems than if you water late in the day.
The best way to determine when to water is to watch your plants. These plants will talk to you. They will tell you what they need. And if you pay attention and give it to them, they will return the favor by providing your family with delicious vegetables all season long.
Ways To Water
Old School Watering Can
We use the watering can when our transplant babies are still getting acclimated to their new home. And we will periodically water with a can throughout our the growing season when time allows. This is definitely the least convenient and most time consuming method of watering, but it is also the most intimate. When watering with a watering can, you are up close and personal to what is going on in your garden. If there are any pests or disease, you will know it. You can also control where the water lands. Many veggies don’t like to get their leaves wet, so being able to control your watering to just the roots and soil, keeps your plants happy.
This method is a bit easier than the watering can, takes less time, and there is no water hauling involved (which will be nice come August), but this method still gives you closeness to what you are growing. It is important to be in your garden, with your plants, as often as you can. Remember, you are feeding not just your body, but also your soul. This method is kind of the best of both worlds. You can drag a hose to your garden, add a nozzle that will allow you to lightly sprinkle the soil around your plants, and go to town.
This method doesn’t take any less time than the water hose, but it does allow you to do other things while the plants are being nourished. The problem with this method is three fold. First, you are not keeping the intimacy in the garden that is optimal for the health of the garden. Second, you can’t control where the water lands, so you are watering from the top, which a lot of plants don’t like. This can knock off precious buds and even fruit, depending on how forceful the sprinkler is. And it also can lead to bacteria and fungi on the leaves of your plants, not good. And the third problem with this method is that there will be a lot of wasted water. It can be frustrating to have most of your water end up outside the beds and several plants left dry after watering. I don’t recommend this method for a regular watering. It is nice to have the option on a hot summer afternoon, but for daily watering, I think there are better methods.
Built In Irrigation
There are plenty of irrigation options for your raised beds, from soaker hoses to irrigation timers there are many ways to be completely hands off in your garden watering. If you work full time or will be gone for a weekend this option may be a nice luxury. These methods are also wonderful for the hot Louisiana summers. Soaker hoses especially do a great job of keeping the roots happy, even in the peak of the heat. They are a nice investment into a backyard garden. Then you can spend your time in your garden examining your plants and singing them a little song (or is that just me??). When you spend time with your plants you discover all kinds of things, good and bad, in your garden. The first bud, the first fruit, the tiniest little egg of a pest. You don’t want to miss any of that.
Watering cans have worked since the beginning of time, and are still and excellent and cost effective choice for your watering needs. And Soaker hoses are a tremendous gift during the hot summer months. For now, just make sure that you are keeping your soil moist as they get growing, and your plants will thank you for it.
Watering too much. Sometimes we love our gardens too much. The problem with too much water is that we drown the root system and the plant roots can’t breathe. Remember, we want soil like a sponge. Moist but not wet.
Misting the plants. This is probably the worst thing you can do because it can spread diseases. There is so much humidity in the air here that we don’t need to give the leaves any more moisture than they are already taking in just from the air. Misting plants can contribute to the problem of bacteria and disease while keeping the plant in a stressed state because its roots are thirsty. Misting is not beneficial for anything but a cactus.