Watering in the Garden

As we get into that time of year where the temperatures are hot, plants are using lots of water, and the rain comes less often, it’s important to remember to water the garden when needed. So below are answers to a few common questions about watering the garden.

How often to water?
A vegetable garden needs about 1” of water per week, whether that comes from rain or from you watering them. In practice though it’s better to check the soil to know when to water. Our favorite way to check is to push your index finger into the soil up to your middle knuckle. If the soil feels dry then it’s time to water. If the soil still feels moist you can wait another day and check again.

When to water?
When you can….no really. It is most important to get your plants watered whenever you can than to wait for the best time. However, if you have the option the best times are early morning or late afternoon/evening. Ideally you would avoid getting the leaves of plants wet when it’s dark, or will soon be dark, so that the leaves have time to dry off before the sun goes down. Wet leaves can encourage foliar disease in plants.

How to water?
When you water you want to make sure you are applying water slowly enough so that it actually soaks into the soil. How fast this is will vary greatly depending on the quality and type of soil. So it’s best to use a diffused water source, something like a shower nozzle or watering can. Apply it to an area until it starts running off and then water a different area and then come back to the area and repeat.

A note on mulch
Mulch is any dead plant material placed on the soil surface for one of many reasons. The one that is relevant to us here is that mulch can act as an insulation layer over the soil reducing water loss and increasing the rate at which water soaks into the soil. Applying 3-6” of mulch like straw or chopped leaves can reduce the frequency with which you need to water.