Today’s article is all about watering your garden for success – and that begins by avoiding four of the most common watering mistakes made by gardeners when giving their plants a little hydration!
When it comes to watering a garden – how, when and how often you water plays a big role in your plant’s overall health. With proper watering, plants are able develop strong, deep and healthy roots. But without it, trouble can loom quickly.
One thing is for sure, bad watering habits can injure plants, cause them to rot, make them more susceptible to disease, and certainly lower their yields. Unfortunately, it can even lead to total plant failure quite often as well.
Of course, the watering needs of any vegetable plant will vary based on the climate and weather conditions where you garden. It goes without saying that if you are trying to grow and water tomatoes in the middle of the desert, it will be much different than attempting to do the same in a more temperate climate.
But with that said, no matter where you happen to live and garden, there are a few watering practices that should always be avoided in order to keep your plants healthy and strong. With that in mind, here is a look the four most common watering mistakes, and how to avoid them to water your garden better than ever this year!
How To Avoid The 4 Most Common Garden Watering Mistakes
#1 Watering Too Often & Too Much
By far, overwatering is the most common mistake of all made when watering the garden. As crazy it sounds, more harm and damage is done to vegetable plants by overwatering garden plants than under-watering.
The only time daily watering is needed are when young transplants or tender seedlings first go in the ground. Transplants usually need watering every day for the first 5 to 7 days. After that, watering every day actually creates more problems than it solves.
Why is that? Because the number one way to develop healthier plants is to allow them to grow a deep, large root structure. Unfortunately, plants that receive water every day never send their roots deeper to look for moisture and nutrients.
Plants that establish deep root systems absorb more water and nutrients. They are also far less vulnerable to extreme weather conditions because their roots are more protected. And best of all, plants with deeper roots need less watering!
The Issue With Daily Watering – The 4 Most Common Garden Watering Mistakes
With daily watering, plants get used to a constant supply of water. Because of that, they never send their roots deeper. This creates a weak root system that leads to a feeble plant with little strength or vigor. And a strong wind storm or a few days without water can spell big trouble for a root poor plant.
Once a vegetable plant has become established and is mulched properly, it usually only needs water every 4 or 5 days, and that is only if mother nature isn’t providing any. See: How To Mulch Plants In The Garden
2) Watering Too Shallow – Avoiding The 4 Most Common Garden Watering Mistakes
Not only does watering too often lead to shallow roots, so does not watering deep enough. When you water your vegetable plants, you need to water deeply.
Be sure that each plant (maturing plants, not seedlings) receives a quarter to a half gallon of water around the root zones. Water slowly so that it absorb into your plants instead of running off. This too helps the plant develop deeper roots.
#3) Watering Mid-Day – Avoiding The 4 Most Common Garden Watering Mistakes
If at all possible, never water your garden during the heat of the day. Plain and simple, watering the garden in the middle of the day creates a multitude of problems for vegetable gardens and the plants growing in them – both short term and long term.
Although it may seem like you are giving your plants relief from the scorching sun, in reality, daytime watering can cause serious damage. Plants are at the height of stress at the midpoint of the day. And watering them at this point often adds to the stress.
The leaves, blooms and even the vegetables themselves can easily burn from the water spray heating up from the sunlight. In addition, the water that does reach the soil evaporates at a much faster pace due to the hot sun and heat. It results in far less water getting to your plants where they they need it most – their roots!
The Best Time To Water…
The best time to water the garden is in the early morning. The sun is low, temperatures are cooler, and the plants can soak in the moisture fast and easy. Watering in the morning also allows plants to prepare for the heat of the day with plenty of moisture.
If morning isn’t a possibility, the next best choice is to water in the early evening. Again, plants are at a lower stress level and there is little chance of burning foliage with the hot rays of the sun.
The only drawback of evening watering is that plants can often carry too much moisture through the cool overnight. This has the potential to make conditions ripe for mold and mildew to take hold. If you have cool nights, it is best to stick with a morning watering routine.
# 4 The Fire Hose Approach To Watering – Avoiding The 4 Most Common Garden Watering Mistakes
It is never a good idea to water your garden with a big blast of water from a shooting garden hose or sprinkler. We call this the “fire hose” approach to watering, and it creates a myriad of issues for your plants. It can affect their health and certainly their production levels as well!
Watering with a full stream or heavy spray directly on plants can injure leaves and stems. It also can knock off the tender blooms needed to create vegetables. And the less blooms there are, the less vegetables there will be to harvest in the future!
In addition, spraying the entire garden allows water to easily splash soil on to the foliage of plants. That in turn makes it easy for soil-borne diseases such as blight to infect plants. The tiny droplets of water can also burn foliage if spraying when the sun is out.
Last but not least, spraying is simply the least efficient way to water. As the droplets spray down, much of the moisture evaporates before helping the plant. At the same time, by watering everything, you waste a tremendous amount of water on soil where nothing grows.
The Best Way To Water – Avoiding The 4 Most Common Garden Watering Mistakes
When watering, concentrate efforts on the soil only around the root zone of your plant. Not only does it cut down on evaporation – it keeps plants much healthier in the long run by keeping water off of the leaves.
Slow and gentle watering of the root zone is the absolute best way to water. When watering with a hose, remove all nozzles and use a slow, gentle, steady stream of water. Slowly take the hose around the root zones of each plant, going low to the ground.
Great Methods For Watering…
Removing the nozzle also makes it easier to reach under the top growth of plants to get to the roots. If you have drip hoses, this can be an even better option for watering. They can be a great investment for making watering a breeze!
Simply lay them out under plants, and turn on the faucet. It delivers water slowly right at the root zone with zero effort. Product Link : Garden Soaker Hose
In our garden, we use recycled 1 gallon milk jugs for watering. We fill them straight from our rain water holding tank. It makes it easy to deliver a quarter to a half-gallon of water per plant right to the roots, without hitting the leaves at all.
Here is avoiding the four most common watering mistakes – and watering your garden for big success this year! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary!
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