Watering: Not too Much, Not too Little

| 5/24/2016 2:46:00 PM

Tags: water efficiency, watering, vegetable gardening, seedlings, beginning gardening, Celeste Longacre, New Hampshire,

Most new gardeners have questions about how often and how much to water their plants. Vegetables and flowers need about an inch of water a week to survive. And, they must have it right when they need it as well. If you let the roots dry out, the plants will die.

In the very beginning, when seeds are germinating, it’s important to keep the top ¼-inch of soil moist at all times. That’s because this is the entire universe for those little seeds. They are just starting to sprout and they will die off quickly if moisture is not available. On hot, dry, sunny, windy days it is not uncommon to have to water your beds three or four times a day, especially if you have raised beds. When you touch the soil and it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Once the seeds have sprouted and emerged above the ground, the schedule changes. You want to encourage your plants to develop nice, deep roots so you can let the very top dry out a bit between soakings. The way to check to see if your plants need moisture is to insert a gardening fork down into the bed. If it comes up completely dry, you need to water.

garden fork inserted into soil

garden fork out of soil

Here’s where you can also see if your soil passes the permeability test. When you have sufficient organic matter, the water easily soaks down into the bed. If it puddles on top, you need to add more aged compost or manure.

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