Now that monsoon season has passed us by (hopefully!), it’s time to think about irrigating your garden. Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up over the years that help my plants thrive.
- Water the roots. No matter what method you are using, avoid spraying down your plants with a sprinkler. Wet leaves are havens for fungal diseases and slugs. I use drip irrigation to accomplish this, but you can use soaker hoses or a simple watering can…just keep the water on the ground…not on the leaves.
- Water deeply. It’s much better to deeply water once or twice a week during hot and dry weather than it is to water them a little each day. Let your plants dry out thoroughly between waterings. Poke your finger into the soil and if it feels damp or moist…don’t water.
- Water evenly. Try to maintain a level of soil moisture that doesn’t fluctuate greatly. Using mulch of any kind is a great way to maintain moisture stability. Plants that dry out too much and then get water logged tend to get Blossom End Rot…a condition caused by lack of calcium. Stressing the plant by uneven watering keeps it from absorbing calcium and you could lose fruit to BER.
- Water in the morning. If your schedule allows it, water your plants in the morning…this gives plants and the surface of the soil time to dry out during the day and will discourage slugs and pill bugs that like to come out at night and hang out around wet soil. If you have to water in the evening, it’s ok, but make sure you don’t get those leaves wet!
- Use good water. If possible, avoid watering plants with cold water from the hose. The temperature change isn’t good for the plants and city water tends to have chlorine and other chemicals in it that aren’t that great for your soil. Rain barrels are the best option, but putting city water in a watering can or empty milk jugs and letting it sit for 12 hours or so brings it up to temperature and allows some of the chemicals to evaporate.