The garden could sure use some of those spring rains now. Watering the garden correctly is important to make sure your vegetables produce. Plants continually going from dry to wet to dry causes problems, tomatoes being the most sensitive. To ensure maximum vegetable production keep the soil consistently moist by following these tips.
In the heat of summer water your vegetables 2 – 3 times a week being sure to water deeply. You want the water to seep deep into the soil to encourage deep roots away from the hot soil surface. Whether you are watering with a sprinkler, drip irrigation, or soaker hoses you want to collect at least an inch of water. You can check this by placing a small can/cup in soil under sprinkler, drip irrigation or soaker hose. Vegetables grown in containers will require watering every couple of days because they dry out faster. If hand watering set the watering nozzle on “shower” mode moving back and forth between containers to ensure water is soaking in and soil is completely moist.
Be alert to those “indicator” plants that wilt first when the garden becomes dry. When you see those droopy leaves its time to water. Usually those plants with large leaves, like squash, cucumbers or melons, lose moisture fast. It is best to water consistently. The big leaf plants will be droopy in the mid-day heat; however, they should recover quickly in the evening.
It is best to avoid watering plant leaves; however, that is not possible when using a sprinkler system. In that case, water early in the morning allowing the plant foliage to dry early to minimize disease risk. Having a timer on the hose to turn on early morning when dew is on the leaves is a good way to minimize length of time the foliage stays wet. Watering in early morning also minimizes water evaporation.
To help maintain moisture in the ground use an organic ground mulch (2-3 inches) such as straw, ground bark, pine needles, or chopped leaves around and under the plants. This provides a barrier between the moist soil and hot sun.
These simple tips will help your garden flourish. Happy Gardening!