Watering 101

The official start of summer is here and everyone’s gardens are under way! One of the first lessons I learned as a new gardener was the importance of watering your garden correctly. Who knew such a seemingly simple task could be so critical to the success of your garden!
Here’s some reasons you should care about watering appropriately.
  1. Water helps move nutrients from the soil to your plants. Without enough water your plants will be lacking. One example of this is blossom end rot seen on tomatoes that stems from a calcium deficiency in the plant.  This is when tomatoes form appropriately, but end up with a black/gray little butt at the bottom that doesn’t look good and you sure won’t want to eat! 
  2. Watering your garden appropriately early on helps your plants to form deeper roots and become more drought tolerant later. You’ll be thanking yourself when July and August roll around and your plants still look great!
  3. Much of our soil at the community garden is very sandy, which is not helpful for holding onto water at all! With the sandy soil we need to pay extra attention to the amount of water our plants are getting. 
With all those great reasons to care, here’s your top watering tips to improve the success of your garden! 
  1. The best time to water is in the morning. This provides water needed for the plants to make it through the hot days, where watering at night can leave your plants too moist overnight and lead to mold and mildew. If you can’t water in the morning, the next best time is the early evening. Watering in the middle of the day or when it’s too hot can lead to more stress on your plants. 
  2. Water the ‘right’ amount’. This can be tricky, but a general guideline is that vegetable gardens need about 1 inch of water/week (whether that be from mother nature, or us!). The goal would be to water until the soil is moist about 5 inches down, and then wait to water again when the soil is dry 1 to 2 inches down. This may not sound like a lot of water, but for a 10×20 plot, that’s 125 gallons of water!! 
  3. Focus on watering the roots, rather than over the top of the garden. This helps promote root development and helps prevent mold and mildew from growing on leaves. 
  4. Water using a shower head-type nozzle
Tips that your garden isn’t getting enough water
  1. The leaves on your plants turn dry and crispy
  2. Cracked soil
  3. Wilted and yellowing plants
  4. Plants dropping leaves and fruit prematurely
It’s been a dry summer so far, good luck!!
This post was written by Loren Brimeyer, gardener in our community gardens who is earning her Master Gardener certification.

2023 Garden Plot Waiting List

At this time, all community garden plots have been reserved, but a few may become available as gardeners may change their plans over the next month or so.  Please email cedarfallscommunitygardens (at) gmail.com to request to be put on a waiting list.

Garden opens May 1st and four plots are still available

Thank you to the City of Cedar Falls for working hard to till our plots early this year and beat the rainy, wet weather.  Opening day is Sunday, May 1st and you are welcome to plant from that day onward.  Please be sure to check the flag located at each plot to make sure it corresponds with your plot on the garden map/diagram.  Each plot has a unique letter/number designation.  We do still have four plots remaining so if anybody knows a gardener considering joining us at the community garden, then they should act quickly because our remaining plots might sell out in a matter of days.  Please have them email the community gardens Gmail rather than trying to pay through this site.

March 1st Plot Assignments and Plots Available

All of the gardeners who have paid as of March 1st now have plot assignments for the 2022 growing season.  Please see the diagram on this website.  We have plenty of plots still available and I’ll update the plot diagram on the 1st and 15th of every month until the start of the season.  While unlikely, it is possible that your plot could move so please check back to the most updated diagram before you plant in a couple months.

2022 Garden Plots

Welcome to the Community Gardens of Cedar Falls! If you are new gardener who has not gardened with us before, please know that we will begin taking orders for 2022 plots starting on February 15th, 2022.  The wait list will open on that day and you’ll be contacted between February 15th and March 1st to confirm availability and to allow you to pay for the plot rental.  We expect to add new gardeners later than March 1st too, but those who are on the wait list and then confirm/pay the second half of February will have the priority.

Cover Crops

You may notice on the garden map that several plots have been assigned as ‘cover crops’, something new we are piloting this year after a couple years of discussion about it.  The cover crops we are planting include buckwheat (large leaves and white flowers) and mustard (yellow flowers).  Both are widely used by gardeners and small farms around the US as ‘smother crops’, plant varieties ideally selected to outcompete weeds.  In addition to weed suppression, we selected plots that have been continuously in use for several years.  The cover crops have qualities that replenish depleted soil to include adding nutrients and controlling soil borne pathogens that harm vegetable plants (mustard controls nematodes). You’ll also especially like the fact that these plants attract pollinators.  Buckwheat is one of the most desirable plants for honey producers and is commonly interplanted with crops like fruit trees that are particularly dependent on pollination. While scattered around the garden, the best place to see the two cover crops is the far eastern edge, covering the whole row of four plots.  This not only serves as sort of a “demonstration garden” but also recognizes that these plots have always been at risk of people cutting the corner too closely and accidentally driving over them–better to have that happen to cover crops than one of our gardener’s vegetable gardens.