Must-Read Watering Tips For Plants | tips for watering your VEGETABLE garden

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This hot weather has inspired me to pull together my top tips for watering plants in the vegetable garden. 🌞

Water is without doubt one of the most undervalued resources on earth.

These tips have been designed with water conservation in mind.

These watering tips for plants will help you to:

  • reduce the amount of water that your plants need.
  • identify the plants that need water the most.
  • get water to the right plants.
  • get water to the right places.
  • use sources of otherwise wasted water.

1. Water seedlings regularly

Watering tips for seedlings

New seedlings don’t respond well to over watering or to being left to dry out.

Avoid using water from your water butt on new seedlings as they are more susceptible to bacteria and fungal spores that may have developed in the water.

Instead use tap water that has ideally been sat around for 24 hours.

When sowing seeds make a shallow trench for your seeds and give it a good water before sowing. Cover the trench with compost and water gently again before placing a plank of wood on top until they germinate.

Covering carrots and parsnips to reduce watering seedlings
These newly sowed carrots and parsnips have a plank of wood on top which will mean that they don’t need watering until germinated.

How often do seedlings need watering?

To recognize if seedlings need water you can:

  • Get used to picking up your pots or trays. If they feel very light then they need water.
  • Press your finger gently into the soil, if it feels dry and your finger comes out dirt free then they need a water.

We water seedlings in pots daily. In the evening too if it is particularly sunny and windy as they dry out quickly.

2. Water plants thorougly each week

Plants that have been transplanted and have established themselves in the garden are treated to a once a week soaking which involves a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as we empty the contents of our water-butts over the beds (if it has been dry).

Tips for saving water when there’s no rain!

  • Fill your water butt with bath water/paddling pool water.
  • Save water from boiling veg or eggs.
  • Place a bowl in the sink to catch otherwise wasted clean water while filling glasses or rinsing fruit and veg.
  • Put a bucket in the shower to catch run-off.
  • We don’t have one but apparently outdoor-mounted aircon units can fill a bucket of water regularly.

3. Retain soil moisture

Tips for retaining soil moisture…

  • Mulch around plants after watering to hold in moisture (it is also amazing at preventing weeds!) Some people have trouble with slugs but we use grass clippings, wood chip and leaves without major problems.
  • Group pots together so that they shade each other and avoid terracotta (evaporation) or metal tubs (heat soil).
  • Intercrop plants to cover soil and reduce evaporation.
  • Plant tall plants like sunflowers or climbers like peas cleverly to shade lettuces and other leafy veg.

5. Focus your watering

When you water you need to ensure that the water is getting to the where you want it to go…

  • Avoid wetting the leaves as this can spread diseases.
  • Focus the water at the plants roots and allow a small puddle to form. This will encourage the water to go down to where the plants roots are.
  • Prevent water from spreading over the whole bed by making a little indent around the base of your plants.
  • Water only the plants…not the entire bed as this will help to prevent weed growth.
  • Bury plastic bottles with holes punched into them next to deep rooted heavy feeders like vines (tomatoes, pumkins and courgettes). This will help to get the water where it’s needed.
  • Add humidity to your greenhouse or polytunnel by placing a tray full of water and stones or gravel on the floor.

6. Water at the right time…

  • Water in the morning before it gets hot. This reduces evaporation and gives leaves a chance to dry out and avoids sun damage.
  • Avoid evening watering as this will attract slugs who dislike dry ground.

7. Recognise each plants individual needs

Watering plants will improve crops especially when there is no rain. Some plants have deep roots and are better at finding their own water than others and so can cope in dry weather.

Which fruits and vegetables need more water?

These plants shouldn’t be left to dry out:

  • Seedlings or newly transplanted plants.
  • Leafy crops like lettuce will taste better with generous weekly watering.
  • Cabbages and other brassicas are heavy feeders with shallow roots.
  • Celery will produce bitter, tough stalks without water.
  • Heavy feeders like tomatoes, peas, squashes, courgettes and cucumbers will need more water as they come into flower and produce their crops.

Which fruits and vegetables need less water?

Plants that require less water:

  • Parsnips and carrots have long taproots that can reach far down for moisture.
  • Mustard greens
  • Courgettes (summer squash) have a deep tap root.
  • Some varieties of usually thirsty tomatoes can withstand dry conditions.
  • Established fruit bushes and trees.
  • Tall beans and dwarf beans.
  • Sweetcorn.
  • Peppers.
  • Melons.
  • Squash.
  • Herbs
  • Sunflowers.
  • Rhubarb.
  • Asparagus.
  • Swiss Chard.

I hope these tips have given you a few ideas to try in your own garden. Please let me know if you given any other tips for watering plants in the vegetable garden.