We had at least 5 strong storm cells pass thru here yesterday evening all with tornado warnings, but as far as I know, we are undamaged - I won't have to water the garden for awhile.
Just like we humans, plants cannot survive very long without water and the amount will depend upon the time of year, your weather, your soil, and mulching, so I’ll have to make this about here, where we have clay soil and hot dry days in the summer.
Also, since there are often many ways to achieve good results, in these gardening posts, I will generally be describing how I do it, as with the tomatoes, but in some cases there is clearly a best way and I’ll state it that way.
Most un-mulched plants in this area need 1½ inches of water per week, either from rain or by irrigation – I have an accurate rain gauge to keep up with what Mother Nature provides and I provide the rest. The best test for whether or not you need to water is to use your finger – I just stick my index finger into the soil as far as it will go and if it comes out moist, no water is needed. Another indicator is wilted leaves in early morning – many will look droopy in the heat of the day, but droopy leafs in the early morning is a sign of some type of a problem.
I’ve heard many folks say they water every day, but this is a bad idea as it encourages the roots to stay close to the surface where they can cause plant stress if a few watering days are missed. It is much better to water deeply as few times per week as your soil will allow. This forces the roots to go deep and chase the water as it percolates down into the soil. In dry times, I water twice a week and deliver around ¾ inch each time to get my 1½”.
Supplemental water can be applied in a number of ways – bucket, hose with a wand, overhead sprinkler, soaker hose, drip tape, flooding, etc. In our area, with a high incidence of fungal diseases, overhead watering is the worst choice as it wets the foliage and provides good conditions for fungal growth – warm and moist. If you must water overhead, do it early in the morning so the foliage will have all day to dry. This is especially important for tomatoes where blight and anthracnose are serious issues.
For areas too large to hand-water but too small for drip tape, soaker hoses are a good choice – Bev has many of them meandering around her flower beds - they meander well. Be sure you buy good ones and take care not to over pressure them which will often result in a rupture – just open the water valve enough to get it dripping.
I water with drip tape which is what the commercial row crop folks around here use. It works similar to a soaker hose but is much cheaper, but it does not like to make curves so it doesn’t work as well in flower beds where plants are growing in other than a straight line. I now have my garden set up to use it in straight runs. I turn the water on and go to bed and since I’m watering only the soil, it is very efficient. Here are four end-to-end beds in my garden - beans, tomatoes (I have a few more to stake), peppers, and tomatoes with two runs of 1/2" drip tape, 3' apart.
One of my gardening philosophies – The seeds and plants know what they’re supposed to do and my role is merely to provide them a safe and healthy environment in which to do it.
If at any time you have a gardening question, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.
One year ago: Azaleas - The Main Event