Watering guide

It is important not to water too much because:

  • Plants aren’t encouraged to grow strong root systems
  • Plants can drown
  • Water is a precious resource

It is important to water enough because:

  • Plants that receive the proper amount of water are likely to be healthy and productive
  • Plants can die quickly in hot weather if not watered enough.

General guidelines for the community garden:

  • It is important to keep the soil around the newly planted seeds moist.
  • water established plants deeply but less often
  • to tell if the soil is moist, stick your finger under the soil. the soil may be moist even if the surface looks dry
  • water the roots of the plant, not the leaves. ideally the soil will be slightly lower around the roots so the water doesn’t run away on the surface.
  • water in the morning or evening when the sun isn’t as hot. this means less water will evaporate. also, the very hot sun on water droplets on tender leaves can cause the leaves to burn.

The following is copied from Oregon State’s website:

How often to water

Regardless of the system you choose, the goal is the same: to deliver water to the roots of the plants at about the same rate that it is removed from the soil by the plants and evaporation. Consider your soil, your plants, and recent weather when determining how much and how often to water your garden. Sandy soil holds much less water than clay soils. Larger plants consume more water than seedlings. Hot, windy weather dries out the soil.

Instead of developing a watering schedule based on calculations and charts, monitor your garden to determine your watering needs throughout the growing season. Different plants in your garden may have different needs.

  • Germinating seeds and seedlings need to be kept uniformly moist without being washed away, so water them with a gentle spray every day or two.
  • Developing plants need to be watered deeply, but less often, to encourage deep root growth. Water to a depth of at least 6 inches and then let the surface inch or two completely dry out before watering again.
  • Crops such as lettuce, beets, green beans, and chard draw water from the top foot or less of soil. Thoroughly soak the rooting zone and then don’t water until the plants show signs of needing additional water such as turning a dark bluish green or wilting during the hottest part of the day.
  • Corn, tomatoes, asparagus, and rhubarb have deep root systems that allow them to draw water from the top 2 feet of soil. Deep-rooted plants need water less frequently, but need more water to reach the rooting depth.
  • As a general guideline, garden plants that have been watered properly, and therefore have developed deep roots, need a thorough watering every 5 to 7 days in hot weather.

Avoid these three common watering problems

  • Frequent, shallow watering promotes root development in the surface layers of the soil. Plants with shallow roots are very susceptible to drought
  • Overwatering can drown plants by filling up soil pores with water, leaving little or no oxygen for plant roots. Also, excessive watering leaches away nutrients and can contribute to groundwater contamination.
  • Postponing irrigation after plants show signs of needing water can damage plants very quickly in hot weather. Observe your plants every day or two and respond to their needs promptly.

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