Watering Garden WDEV Vermont Radio Talk

Watering The Garden (In the Garden 2018 Episode 8)

Original Air Date: June 23, 2018

Watering The Garden

Over 70 to 90% of our garden plants is water.  The benefits of providing enough water to your plants regularly are not always obvious.  Your plants will certainly be more productive and stronger but also will be more resistant to pest, more resistant to diseases and absorb nutrients more consistently so the plant are less likely to be vulnerable to the elements. 

For instance, Blossom End Rot on a tomato is often attributed to a lack of calcium in the soil but the problem is often brought on by inconsistent watering because the plants can’t draw up the calcium with out adequate moisture in the soil. As Ed Smith points out in his book The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, water is a transfer agent, “Nutrients pass from the soil to the plant through a film or water surrounding the tiny root hairs that grow from the plant’s roots.” (the bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it!)

Also a lack of water will send a message to the plant to begin to produce seeds and bolt, so our lettuces turn bitter, out spinach starts to flower and our radishes become hard a woody.

How Much Water

The goal of watering is to provide an inch of water every week across the garden bed.  That is about 10 gallons of water for a 4×4 bed! Rain is not always a reliable source of water and therefore it is important to water regularly, so your garden plants have a steady, consistent source of water.  Farmers have irrigated from centuries. You remember your lessons about the invention of the screw being related to lifting water to irrigate fields in Egypt? Even if you have a rain gauge if you have had summer rains that are fast and furious and shows a 1/ 4 inch of rain probably none of that rain water penetrated the soil. None.

Unless you have a day of soaking rain during the week, water.  Water thoroughly with one inch of water.  One of the advantages of having ample vermiculite in your soil is that you can water too much because the vermiculite will absorb the excess.  Also remember that your sets and just seeded beds will need daily watering until they show sings of growth then they get the same routine as the rest of the garden.

There are numerous methods of watering:

  • Cup and a 5-gallon bucket
  • Sprinkling Can
  • Sprinkler (like used for lawns)
  • Watering Wand hose end sprayer
  • Soaker Hose or Drip Irrigation
  • Irrigation with Sprinklers
  • Rain

Cautions about watering:

  • Don’t water the paths
  • Water the ground not the plant
  • Water in the morning so the plants dry out during the day if you are watering from above.
  • Careful to pour softly don’t drill a hole near the roots!

Mulch as watering?

Double that in HOT weather

I have, for many years used a 5-gallon bucket and a cup to water my garden.  When I plant my sets I plant then in a recess, a cup so to speak, so that when I water I fill that cup and the water goes directly to the roots.  The benefit is plain to see watering where your plant needs it and leave the rest of the bed dry on the surface.  This creates a “dust mulch” that discourages weeds.  Also, this keep the leaves dry and less susceptible to disease. 

Watering this way is kind of relaxing, even therapeutic you might say, but it is a way for me to relax while inspecting my plants looking for trouble, harvesting any runaway zucchini, and enjoying the great outdoors. How ever you water is great the plants don’t care, just water your garden!  And let me know how you water your garden.

Thanks, that it for this show. See you In The Garden next week Saturday at 12:30.