How to Water Correctly (Day 22 of 30 Days to a Better Garden)

Day Lily on Solstice
Happy Belated Solstice (and Fathers Day too)! It’s hard to believe that the days will only get shorter from here on out and yet, in Sonoma, the weather will only get hotter. Being that today is supposed to be a hot one, I thought it might be a good day to talk about watering your vegetable garden.
Lavender on Solstice
The Basics of Watering
Most all vegetables like to be watered right at the ground because if their leaves get wet they will suffer from wilt or mildew. So while it’s tempting to let the overhead sprinkler water your veggies, it’s best to either water by hand or install a drip system. We water by hand just because we haven’t taken the time to install drip, although our good friends at Bellamadris have really inspired us to get it going. The best time to water is in the evening after the heat of the sun has dropped down a bit and after any winds have died down. This gives the water a good 12 or so hours to percolate in the soil and reach the roots. How long you should water is really dependent on your soil. You’ll have to experiment.

Checking on your Watering
So here our task for the day, after you do your watering, either by hand or with your drip system, go take a trowel and dig down and see how deep your water is getting. I’m the queen of thinking I’ve watered enough only to find that the water only penetrated 1/4 of an inch. I can’t tell you how many perennial flowers I’ve lost due to my bad watering. So I’ve learned that I really need to dig down and see how far I’ve actually watered. To really test your watering, on your next early morning walk, stick your finger in the soil and make sure that the soil is still wet at least 2 inches down. If not, water longer.
Zucchini on Solstice
We’ve found that creating dirt ‘walls’ around our plants helps to keep the water in around the plants root area without running out all over the place. Don’t forget to mulch well so that you won’t loose that water to evaporation too. If you are in a water restricted area, check out my post on having a Drought Tolerant Vegetable Garden.

Tell me, how do you water? Drip or hand watering? How often do you water? Have you learned any watering tricks along the way?

Oh and I have been curious…for my Southern Hemisphere friends, was yesterday the shortest day of the year for you?


Filed under 30 Days to a Better Garden, Water

3 responses to “How to Water Correctly (Day 22 of 30 Days to a Better Garden)

  1. We have drip & bubble in the garden. Oscillating sprinklers irrigate the lawn. The fruit trees have underground irrigation via perferated pipes. Most everything is automatic but a few things are irrigated by hand 1st thing in the morning. The automation starts around 4:30 am that way the moisture has the entire day to soak in and burn off. This reduces the chances of mildew with warm nights June – September. Seedlings (currently pumpkins) are irrigated by hand 3 times a day to keep the soil moist. Once they’re established, they will join the rest of the garden with very early morning automatic bubbler/drip irrigation. We’re fortunate enough to not be metered for our water needs. Nonetheless, I’m very water conscious and save as much as I can without stressing the plants. Additionally, too much water leads to all types of disease.

    Sorry for the rant. Your blog is enjoyable.

    • asonomagarden

      Thanks Maybelline for the great water comments. I would like to get our garden on more of an automatic schedule, hand watering takes so long!

  2. Pingback: Four Years of Junes : 30 Days to a Better Garden Revisited | A Sonoma Garden

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