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.