How to water your vegetable garden for best results
January 31, 2019
Follow these simple watering tips for a productive Summer vegetable garden. Over the past 6 years customers have often told me that they forget to water their garden once it is planted, or that they are not sure how often to water.
These are my recommendations:
Create a reminder
One of the most common reasons vegetable gardens are not successful is lack of water. Many customers tell me that they forget to it! Create a reminder – Ask your children to create a “Water the Garden” reminder note or picture that can be attached to the fridge or a location to remind you.
Water plants regularly rather than on an adhoc basis. This maintains a consistent moisture level in the soil. Many plants do not grow well when the soil is left to dry out. Prolonged periods of dryness trigger a survival mechanism, causing the production of leaves or fruit to end and seeds to begin developing. In many vegetables this results in the plant being unsuitable to harvest for meals.
Avoid watering plants lightly. Those plants that are heavy feeders require deep watering, especially during periods of high heat. Check if you have provided enough water by digging into the soil surrounding your plants to see if it is moist. If it is dry under the surface you need to provide more water. After you have done this a few times you will know how much water to provide.
Hot weather plant care
During the summer months water the summer vegetable garden every two to three days. During extreme heat this needs to be a daily activity.
Remember the reward is lots of fresh salad ingredients for your dinner and no need to get into a hot car to go to the shops.
Vegetables and herbs in containers require watering more than once in the day during high heat periods. Containers dry out quickly.
Careful plant placement
Avoid the placement of containers near walls or fences, especially brick or metal walls. Those materials reflect additional heat onto the plants.
The method of watering is as important as the frequency. Always water your plants at the base. Avoid watering from above. This simple change in watering technique will prevent the leaves from being burnt by the combination of hot sun and water. It may also prevent mold developing on leaves of susceptible, or densely planted vegetables such as zucchini and tomatoes.
Avoid watering your plants with a strong jet of water. Adjust the spray nozzle to provide a shower of water to avoid disturbing or damaging shallow roots.
Water plants early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the peak heat periods of the day.
Add seaweed solution or worm juice to watering cans (about a tablespoon per 9 litres) and water prior to periods of high heat. Plants will also benefit from this after transplanting and when fruit begins to develop.
Protect the soil
Add mulch to the vegetable garden at the end of December. Mulch helps maintain an even soil temperature and reduces water evaporation. Pea straw, sugar cane and lucerne are suitable mulch options.
Share the responsibility
Get the family involved. Ask your children to help with the watering. Show them how to water using the tips above and assign an area they are to care for. I have found that a defined area of ownership can provide children with an immense sense of achievement and a connection with the vegetable garden and the produce that comes from it. They are keen to eat the vegetables they have grown in the garden.
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