I have been toiling in my garden for weeks and weeks getting the soil just right for my plants to reside in. A healthy soil means a healthy plant which in turn means a healthy family. So for ages it has all been about the soil. But now the plants are in, the focus changes again. Healthy plants are hydrated plants. Healthy gardeners are also hydrated ones. It is getting warmer in the garden as we approach summer and this means there is a higher chance of drying out.
When I’m in the garden I like to make some sun tea, a collection of fragrant herbs like lemon balm and mint, a few strawberries and a slice or two of lemon, all in a large jug of water and left to infuse in the sun all day. Then I pour it over some ice in a glass and quench my thirst throughout the day when I need it. This keeps me fresh and able to get more done in the garden.
Plants have simpler tastes. Just plain old water, but a lot of it. It isn’t too late to hook up some kind of water collection system to catch the last of the spring showers or any summer rain that usually comes when you have an outdoor party planned. This is especially a great idea if you have to pay for your water, so every free drop helps.
So while they aren’t too fussy in what they like to drink, how they like to drink it depends on the plant. Many vegetables are quite fussy and don’t like to get their leaves wet. This is because wet leaves can encourage fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and the dreaded blight! So when watering tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini and anyone else remotely related to these great veggies, it is far better to water the soil not the plant. Although it is best to avoid splashing wet soil onto the leaves as this can cause problems too. A soaker hose or a dripper at the plant base is great solution.
Other plants like brassicas and carrots and more robust plants don’t mind being watered from above and waving the hose about seems like the best idea. However, not only is it time consuming, it is quite wasteful of a precious resource as we are staring down the barrel of a predicted drought. Consider a sprinkler that is suited to the size of the area you need to water and the addition of a timer will ensure the plants get exactly what they need.
This is a great idea to use a timer, because then your plants can also be watered at the optimum time of day, which just happens to be first thing in the morning, when most of us are trying to get ready for the day and watering the garden is one task too many. But this is the best time to water plants as it gets a chance to soak deep into the soil before the heat of the day evaporates it.
In the heat of the day is probably the worst time as not only does a large portion of the water evaporate before it can begin to hydrate your plants, but splashing on the leaves is thought to scorch the leaves through water droplets magnifying the suns harsh rays. The evening is ok if it the only time you can find, although the earlier in the evening the better, because, otherwise the plants are left in a wet humid condition overnight and those dreaded fungal diseases love that kind of thing!
The other thing to consider is it is much better to water your plants deeply every two or three days than splash a bit of water at them daily as you want the plants to spread their roots deep into the soil to look for moisture. If you just wet the surface of the soil then you will end up with weak shallow rooted plants that are constantly thirsty.
So watering the plants may seem simple enough, but to ensure truly healthy plants it pays to get it right.
A dribble watering system for tomatoes