Water is vital to any garden, but it is particularly critical for a vegetable garden. Without it, the plants will quickly die and fail to thrive.
But believe it or not, too much water can also be a problem. If you over water, it prevents oxygen from reaching the roots of the vegetables and they’ll fail to grow. Most vegetables require 1 1/2 inches of water per week for best results.
And while watering your vegetable garden may seem pretty straightforward, it is not as simple as you think. There are other factors that make watering a little more complicated. These are listed below.
Wind And Humidity
High humidity keeps the air around the plant’s leaves moist. As a result, there isn’t as much moisture lost through evaporation as during dry spells. The humidity also keeps the ground wetter for a longer period of time.
Conversely, low humidity dries out the plant and soil faster. Because of this, if you live in a high humidity area, watering may not be required as often, so take care not to over water.
Wind, or moving air is also something that can affect the water levels of plants. If there is a lot of air movement, plants will dry out faster than still air.
High temperatures increase the rate of evaporation. Warm season vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, corn and beans grow faster during warmer weather so require more water. The plant may wilt during periods of very high temperatures — over 95 degrees Fahrenheit — even though the ground is still moist.
Check the soil before watering by digging down with a screwdriver. If the soil is damp three or four inches down, wait to water. The plant should recover during the cooler evening hours.
Type of Vegetable
Not surprisingly, the type of vegetable will also affect watering. The bigger the plant, the more water will be required. For example, large vegetable plants such as corn and pole beans require more water than smaller vegetables such as lettuces.
Tomatoes are susceptible to fruit cracking if the watering is sporadic. The fruit shrinks a bit when the plant is dry. Then, when watered the fruit expands beyond its skin and cracks. Bottom rot is a soft brown spot on the bottom of the ripening tomato caused by over watering.
Overhead Watering Versus Irrigation
Rain obviously falls from above the plants, so you might think that would be the best way to water because it mimics nature. However sprinkling wastes water because it evaporates before reaching the ground. It becomes difficult to gauge how much water the plant actually receives.
If you must use a sprinkler, time how long it must be on to deliver an inch of water. You’ll then know how long to water at each session.
The most effective way to water vegetables is through an irrigation system of tubing and emitters. The water is delivered directly to the soil above the plants roots. Water doesn’t splash up on ripening vegetables and goes straight where it is needed. Evaporation is also minimized.
Hydroponic gardens are where vegetables grow in nutrient enriched water rather than soil. The way to water them is quite different than a regular ‘soil’ garden.
It is necessary to add water to this type of garden before the water level drops too far below the roots of the plants. Also, when water is added, the appropriate amount of nutrients must be added too. This is to keep the plant’s nutrition properly balanced. This type of garden can’t draw on soil nutrients so they must be added regularly.
Keep your vegetables strong and healthy to maximize the harvest. Watering your vegetable garden is a key part of this so make sure to take all factors above into consideration. This will ensure you don’t over or under water your vegetable garden and get great results.