How exactly does one water one’s garden?
Generally, us beginner gardeners think that this must be an easy subject to approach. It’s water. We have plants. Plants need water. Simple. And then we start to garden, and we water, and questions start to pop into our heads. Doubts. Am I giving my plants enough water? Am I drowning my plants? Am I wasting water?
These questions have gone through my mind, and I am writing this blog post, in part, to answer them for myself.
I started with a plastic watering can and I loved it.
My green watering can gets used often in my garden
Miss Toddler joined in and now loves watering with her watering can too.
Miss Toddler learning to water the garden
But before I knew it, I was lugging my watering can from my garage sink to my plants and back for an hour to get my plants watered. I moved on to a hose and nozzle system, which is what I am currently using today. A much faster way to water my garden, the hose makes life easier for me. But it does come at a cost- I waste water with this method and I risk damaging young plants if the water pressure is too high.
Is There a Better Way to Water?
Nearly every garden book I pick up recommends drip irrigation. Drip irrigation seems a little scary to me- it seems complicated and tricky. Nonetheless, I have bought myself a drip irrigation starter pack. This may not be the most economical way to purchase the necessary drip irrigation parts- but I’m such a rookie that I needed to simplify the process. I have not done anything with this starter pack just yet. I simple look at the box a couple of times a day and tell myself that tomorrow is the perfect day to get in a tangle with tubing and drip lines. That tomorrow has not yet come, but when it does I will be sure to write a post about my triumph.
How much water?
When I water my garden I try to focus on promoting healthy, deep root growth. Generally, longer soaking of your garden a couple of times a week is better than shallow watering often. In my garden, my plants are mostly in their first season of getting established. Because of this, I do regular deep soaking, about five times a week.
The ‘one-inch’ rule:
- The common rule is that our gardens require one inch of water per week.
- It is helpful to purchase a rainfall gauge to measure whether or not your garden is getting the standard one inch- through rainfall and/or watering.
- FYI: One inch per week is around 6 gallons per square yard per week.
- The once-inch rule is a guideline, more water will be needed on super hot days for example.
- We also need to water our seedlings and new perennial transplants more often in their first year.
- All that seem to abstract?
Chilled out methods of judging how much water your garden is getting:
- Dig into your soil, to see how deep the soil retains moisture. This is a simple way of judging whether you’re watering enough. The soil should be wet to at least one foot after watering (not including top layer of mulch)- if you plan to soak your garden once a week.
- Look at your plants. Are the leaves drooping? If they are drooping during the heat of the day that might be ok. If they are also dropping in the mornings and evenings then you probably need to give them more water.
- Are your plants lighter green than normal and wilting? Is the soil wet and your plants are still struggling? You may be overwatering your garden.
And Don’t Forget the Mulch
I recently mulched these few transplants in my frontyard using compost
- Mulching is a crucial step in gardening.
- Mulching helps the soil retain moisture, suppresses weeds and helps plants establish themselves.
- I use compost for most of my mulching. I also use shredded leaves and newspaper, as well as grass clippings- if I have any to spare.
Now step outside and see if you can improve your garden’s watering system today. Can you add mulch to your plants? Maybe you have the time and energy to install drip irrigation? Maybe you just want to observe your plants closely to see how much water they truly need. Whatever we do, we must remain mindful of our water use, always seeking to conserve.
Until next time,