You know water is an essential element for your plant, right? It can save your plant from dying as well as it can drag your plants to death.
For this reason, you need to know the proper use of water in your vegetable garden. There are chances that as a beginner it will be difficult for you to understand the watering system. So, what can be the proper use of water in vegetable gardening?
Does a vegetable garden need water every day?
A vegetable garden doesn’t need water every day. Your garden needs the right amount of water to moist soil and to feed the plant.
However, you need to know what can be the right amount of water for your vegetable garden. You need to keep in mind some other factors that can affect your watering the garden.
Some more to keep in mind! Oh, don’t worry I will try to make it easy for you without missing the extra caring. Let’s dig in deeper!
The plants in your garden need water as much as you need water
The first thing that may knock on your mind is why you need to water your garden, right? Whether it is often or regularly, why your plants need water?
It’s because they drink water just like we humans! Well, just kidding!
Plants need water as they are mostly made of water as well as it is needed to maintain their internal temperature. Plants need water for the photosynthesis process to create sugar and oxygen.
Besides, we all know the plant gets all the essential nutrients through the root cells. Without water, it is quite impossible for these nutrients to move inside the plants. So, lack of water means lack of nutrients too!
So, it is quite impossible to have a successful vegetable garden without proper watering.
When your garden needs water?
Daily watering is not necessary but that doesn’t mean you can water it anytime you want. You need to understand the perfect time for watering as too much or too little water is harmful to your vegetable garden.
Watering time based on soil texture
Feel the soil of your garden as the type of soil can tell when it needs water. If you feel that the soil surface is dry, baked, or hard, it may be the right time for watering!
If your soil is sandy soil and well-drained, you can water your garden twice a week or more often during summer. If the soil is heavier clay soil or loamy soils that hold moisture properly, you can water it once a week. If the soil is covered in a layer of mulch, you may water your garden less often.
Time to water and Weather Conditions
Early in the morning is the ideal time to water as the foliage can dry off by evening. If you water them in the night, the foliage stays wet for a long time, and diseases can attack. Besides, the soil surface that is under the sunlight for a long time, will leave the water to evaporation and so needs more irrigation.
A sunny and dry climate requires more water while ones with frequent rain may need less amount of water. Sometimes it is best for your plants to water them immediately after a rain shower of about half-inch. Because if you add water after the rain shower, you can ensure penetration down to 5 or 6 inches by providing enough water.
However, if you add water after one or two days of a rain shower, you will add water only to the surface. It won’t be able to moist the soil enough as frequent light water can’t build up a reserve of water in the soil. Especially, during the summer season when the weather is hot and dry, the plants need more irrigation.
Watering time based on the growth of the veggies
There are many vegetables that need extra water when in flower or when fruiting. For instance, beans and peas, sweet potatoes, and corn require more water during flowering time. Tomatoes and squash plants such as zucchini and pumpkins need extra water when their fruit is developing. Peas and beans will develop heavier pods if watered regularly after flowering. But too much water at an early stage can harm the growth of peas and beans. Leafy greens and root vegetables require regular watering throughout their growth.
Notice the wilt of the plants
When the plants started to wilt and look droopy, it may be time for watering. But temporary wilting of the plants during the midday heat doesn’t indicate the need for water.
During very hot days some plants may go through a midday slump but that is for adapting their environment. Check those wilted plants again in the evening. If you find them to look perkier, you don’t need to water them.
Measurement of the water
You are checking the water timing now. Though you are applying water twice a week, you are applying water immensely. As a result, the roots have started to rot. So, you have to know the right quantity of water.
Right quantity of water
One inch of water or rain per week is adequate water for your vegetable garden. For a 100 square-foot area, one inch of rain equals 62 gallons mean a large amount of water. So try to find out the actual size of your garden.
If there is no rain and the area size of your garden is 600 square feet, you would need 372 gallons of water for a week.
Now there might be rain and the amount of rain was only about 3/8 of an inch. So, you need to supply the deficit amount of water to the garden that means the remaining 5/8 of an inch of rain. The 5/8 of 372 is almost about 232 gallons.
If the soil is sandy soil, water twice a week and divides the amount of water into two. That means amounts of water will be 31 gallons per 100 square feet.
Measure the right quantity
You can simply use a rain gauge that will let you know about the quantity of water your garden is receiving and how much more you need to add. Or else, you can use a clock and a bucket to figure out the water quantity.
For this, you need a bucket like a 5-gallon pail. Measure water into the pail and mark the actual 5-gallon level line. Now turn on your hose and attach your pistol grip or sprinkler with it to fill water into the pail. Keep the water volume as usual as for watering the plants.
Next, check the time of filling water and find out how much time it takes to fill 5 gallons of water. It may be a matter of few seconds. Do the same thing again to confirm the timing.
Suppose it takes 10 seconds to fill the pail. As you know for watering a 100 square feet garden, you need 62 gallons of water per week which means almost 12 pails of water and 120 seconds. So, water your garden for almost 2 minutes and some more. It will be enough for the week.
Another way for overhead watering is to place 4 or 5 small containers around the garden while watering. When the water in the containers reaches up to the 1-inch mark means you are done with watering. Or else, you can use a water meter on your hoes to know how much water you have used in your garden and that would be much more convenient.
Critical times to water and gallons needed
Though you don’t need to water your vegetable garden regularly, you need to take special care of some type of plant. Some plants need extra water during their growth or during summertime.
So here are some of that special vegetable plants that need extra irrigation!
Needs a lot of water during dry spells for a 5-foot row
- Cabbage: 2 gallons per week for head development during dry weather.
- Cauliflower: 2 gallons per week for best crop and during head development.
- Celery: 2 gallons per week for best crop
- Cucumbers: 1 gallon per week during flowering and fruit development.
- Squash: 1 gallon per week for the best crop.
- Peppers: 2 gallons of steady water supply per week from flowering through harvest.
- Lettuce/Spinach: 2 gallons per week for best crops.
- Radishes: 2 gallons of plenty of water per week for consistent moisture to enlarge the root.
Needs water at critical stages of development for a 5-foot row
- Beans: 2 gallons per week (depending on rainfall) when flowers form and during pod development
- Corn: 2 gallons per week only when tassels form and when cobs swell
- Peas: 2 gallons per week when flowers form and during pod-forming and picking
- Potatoes: 2 gallons per week when Tuber set and enlargement when the size of marbles
- Tomatoes: 1 gallon twice a week or more for 3 to 4 weeks after transplanting and when flowers and fruit form
What can too much water do to your veggies?
To avoid over-water check the soil moisture below the surface before watering as too much watering can cause the following difficulties:
- Plants may die due to wet roots
- Over-watering can invite some plant leaves diseases as well as slugs and snails to the garden.
- Valuable nutrients may wash away along with the soil by the overflow of water.
- Plants will develop a weak, shallow root system that is less drought-resistant.
- There will be a lack of oxygen when plants are sitting in the water for a long time
Besides this, your crops can wilt due to too much water or too little water. If you find the soil dry under the surface, water immediately and try to give some shade to your plants.
On the other hand, if there is an overflow of water, then look for the water drainage system. If the soil is waterlogged, use a fork to puncture the soil as well as don’t water until the soil becomes dry again.
How to water your vegetable garden
Deep root penetration is all you need in a healthy plant and when the water goes deep inside the soil, a deep root is formed. For watering the garden you need to saturate each plant hole first during seedling transplant.
When you water the garden, make sure that the soil is saturated enough to moist the percolates several inches down. If you use a sprinkle for watering, then the leaves get wet easily due to overhead application. This could lead to various diseases of leaves as the leaves stay wet for a long time.
That’s why you could use the hoes directly on the ground near the plant root so that the water can go directly into the soil. You can place a rock or board under the water flow so that the soil will not get eroded. Or else, you can dig a little trench around the plants for easy water flow.
Drip irrigation is another way that you can use for watering. Using a hose or plastic tubes with small holes in them, you can supply a relatively small amount of water to the root zone.
You can place the hose down the garden rows and water will slowly supply maximum moisture without thinking about the period of watering. Moreover, you can use this drip irrigation for watering your container vegetable gardens.
Some more watering tips!
Well, now it’s time to give you some extra tips as you love to get some extra, I know.
Use mulch for preserving the soil moisture
A heavily mulched garden will need much less frequent watering and will save your time! Besides, if your garden receives less than 40 inches of rainfall annually, then you should use mulch for preserving the soil moisture.
Mulch won’t let your water evaporate from the soil as it cools down the heat of the soil. But don’t mix the mulch with soil. Lay a thick layer of it on the soil surface and renew it for the entire growing season.
Don’t be a stingy person and water your garden thoroughly! If you only sprinkle water on the soil surface, it will need water more often as well as will build a shallow root system. On the other hand, a thorough soak will penetrate the surface and ensure a healthy nourished plant.
Plan your garden layout properly
When you’re planning for the garden layout, try to put those thirsty vegetables in a different segment. This will be helpful for you to water them as well as the right amount of water will be ensured for the plants.
Moreover, you can use a special irrigation system for them if necessary during the summer months.
Few words before goodbye!
I hope now you know how to water your garden in a proper way. Don’t add too much or too little water!
Besides this, provide sufficient water according to your soil type, weather, and time of day. Some vegetables need frequent and shallow watering and some may need a large amount of water per week. So take care of that!
Moreover, be aware of the wet leaves as they can invite some disease. That’s all for now and oh, don’t forget to add a mulch layer!