One of the most critical aspects of successful gardening is the watering process.
I will explain how to water your plants to improve production, reduce diseases that can harm your plants, and how to retain moisture in the soil to reduce evaporation.
Many areas of the country have water restrictions in the summer that can impact your water usage, so it is critical to have the best practices in place to retain water in your soil and optimize a watering schedule to keep your garden thriving.
Watering too much can be as bad and harmful to your plants as watering too little. Depending on how warm it is will determine how much water your plants need. Approximately 1 inch per week under normal conditions is optimum.
Another way to know if your plants need watering is to stick your finger into the soil about 2 inches down to see if it is moist, if it is they are good, if it is dry they need to be watered.
Using a sprinkler to water your vegetable plants may be easier to accomplish your garden watering but it is not the best way to water your garden.
When you water overhead you are allowing diseases to be introduced to your plants. Water on the leaves can increase the likelihood of molds being introduced. It can also allow bacteria to be splashed up from the soil onto the lower leaves of your plants.
Watering above also does not get the water deep to the roots where water is needed.
Using a sprinkler allows water to be evaporated so it will take much longer to provide the required water to your plants costing you more money.
If you do water with sprinklers overhead it is best to water in the morning reducing evaporation and allowing plant leaves to dry and not allow water to stay on the leaves too long.
Best Way to Water Garden
Using the correct equipment to deliver water to your plants is key to having a successful garden.
Using a drip hose is one of the easiest, least expensive, and best ways to water your plants.
Drip hoses can be found at most garden centers or online and they are not going to cost very much and are easy to set up.
The best time to arrange the drip hose is before you plant your garden but after you have worked the soil this way you can plant along the drip hose to make sure they are going to get water as needed.
The next best way to lay the drip hose out is right after planting so that you do not have to disturb the plants again this will allow you to make sure each plant or row is receiving water.
If you have planted and decided to add a drip hose you can still make this happen it will take a little more effort to weave the hose through the rows and around the plants.
Once you have your hose laid out you need to know how much water it will deliver in a specified time. Most come with water distribution details if not you can determine this by placing a container under the drip line.
Your goal is to water deep allowing the water to get to the roots deep in the soil. Typically 1 inch per week, in my case I have a watering schedule of 2 hours twice a week.
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Hose with Drip Tubing
Another great way to deliver water to your plants is through a hose with a drip tubing attached for each plant. This type of watering system is better for specific plants and not rows since you will attach a tube that can be laid out to encircle the plant to deliver water to it.
To install these it is best to lay the hose out before planting so that you can plant along the hose but not directly next to the hose. Once the hose is laid out and you plan where to put each plant you can attach the tubing before planting so that each plant will have a tube to deliver water to it.
Again this type of system is not expensive and is a great way to deliver water effectively to your plants. It does take a little more time to install but it is worth the effort.
Do not use the emitters that spray out since this will splash water onto your plant’s lower leaves and increase the chance of diseases being introduced to your plants.
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A critical step to retain the water you are delivering to your plants is to add mulch on top of the hose or drip tubing and around the plant about 2 inches deep.
Once you have your drip system in place and you have planted the plants you should spread your mulch out. If you are planting seeds wait for the seedlings to grow to about 3-5 inches tall before spreading your mulch over the top of the drip hose and covering the hose and rows of the plants to retain the moisture.
If you want to eliminate having to remember when to water and the need to physically go out and turn the water on you can add a timer to your system to allow you to do other things and not have to remember to water each day. Also, you can program a timer to come on early each morning when you are sleeping to water your plants at the optimum time.
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Care for Drip Hose
When the gardening season is over you can either remove the drip hose from the garden and place it where it will not be laying in the sun or where it will get damaged by winter snow and ice, or you can leave it in the garden making sure it is covered with mulch.
If you have an air compressor you can blow out the lines removing the moister to prevent the hose from cracking or breaking during the cold winter temperatures.
Be sure to remember it is there before you prep your soil for the next year.
Now that you have improved your watering system to deliver water to your garden you can sit back and wait for the rewards of growing a great garden and the bounty of fruit and vegetables to come your way.