Hot Weather Watering Tips For Your Vegetable Garden
As the mercury rises this summer, we'll be focused on avoiding dehydration in ourselves and the young ones around us. But don't forget about your gardens. Those youthful plants can't uproot and scurry into the shade when the scorching sun cranks up the heat. Without water, they'll wilt and wither.
Here's some information to help you keep your garden growing strong when the heat wave rolls in.
First, perform a quick soil check to get a status on your garden's moisture level. Dig a spade, six inches down into the garden bed. If the lower dirt is moist, then your plants are good for now. But, if the dirt is completely dry, start watering!
Keep an eye on the sky. If Mother Nature is gearing up for rain, let her do the job. Working around the weather reports will help to avoid over watering.
Vegetable Garden Watering Tips:
Water During Cooler Hours Watering in the morning will give your plants the opportunity to soak up the moisture before the sun's heat can evaporate that essential elixir. This will help prevent wilting when the afternoon heat hits hard.
Be careful not to over water, though. The soil should be damp, a few inches down, but not over saturated. Waterlogged roots won't get enough oxygen and will struggle to absorb the moisture they need.
Focus On The Roots, Not The Leaves Plants drink with their roots, not their foliage. Water the soil at the base of your plant and try not to get the leaves wet. Plant diseases tend to latch on when the leaves are wet, which is why the morning is a great time to water. That gives the leaves enough time to dry off before the evening cool down.
Water Efficiently - Avoid Sprinklers Sprinklers are less accurate and wasteful as they toss water everywhere. Personal attention with a watering can is best for efficient water use and will help you gauge how much each plant is receiving. Drip water systems may work better than sprinklers, but they can lead to over watering as well.
Protect With Mulch Mulch can assist in keeping your garden vegetables hydrated. Mulch's organic matter helps to slow down water flow, reducing the likelihood of run off which will allow your plants the time they need to drink. It also adds a layer of heat protection that shields the top soil from baking in the afternoon rays and preventative measure against weeds.
Weed with an Iron Fist Weeds are more than an eyesore, they're more mouths to feed. Weeds steal water and soil nutrients from your precious plants. Seek and destroy; find them and remove without mercy (be sure to get the roots).
Harvest Your Bounty When your garden offers ripe produce, pluck them and enjoy. Leaving them on the vine too long staves off new fruit and forces young buds to compete for water and nutrients with their aging siblings.
Keep in mind, shallow rooted plants, such as lettuce, corn, potatoes, and radishes may require more frequent watering than your plants with deeper root systems (asparagus, lima beans, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and watermelon). Also, plants that grow tight to the ground (squash) retain their moisture better than those that climb (legumes and tomatoes) on cages and supports due to greater contact with wind and sun.
The general rule of thumb is to make sure your plants are getting 1 inch of water per week (irrigation & rain). Of course, that will vary based on your regional climate, but you can estimate how much water you'll need with this formula:
- Add a 1/4 inch more water for every 5 degrees above the
average temperature (High + Low/2).
So, when the heat index climbs this summer and you reach for that glass of water, remember your vegetable plants. And, don't forget to water your flowers too. If you can keep your plants hydrated, the summer warmth will help them grow instead of stifling their development.
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