How to keep a veg patch well watered


For those of you that are relatively new to growing your own, or who are just starting a new plot, knowing a few things about effective watering will really help you during the summer.

  • Improve soil structure – good soil structure will really help with moisture retention. Add plenty of organic matter before spring to help lift your soil structure. If you have clay soil which moves from waterlogged to dry and cracked quite easily, it is well worth trying the no dig approach (see below)
  • Use a mulch after planting – this is a really effective way for improving moisture retention. Simply cover your veg beds with a layer of mulch to prevent the soil below from drying out so quickly. You can use leaf mould or compost, and you can either spread it across the whole bed, or just surround the roots of individual plants.
  • Start collecting rain water now – install a few water butts now so that you have plenty of rain water to use during the summer months.
  • For larger plots, use a drip hose – this is a good option for bigger plots. It can be a little pricy to set up, but it will use far less water and save you quite a lot of work. If you can, connect the drip hose up to a water butt system for a more sustainable approach.
  • Water early in the morning – the reason for doing this is twofold. Firstly, the water has a chance to soak deeper into the soil before the afternoon sun evaporates it off, thus giving your plants more water. Secondly, you avoid leaving soil damp at nighttime for active slugs and snails, thus protecting your crops.
  • Soil should be kept consistently moist – try to avoid big fluctuations between very wet and very dry soil. The idea is that if you push a finger a couple of cm beneath the soil surface, the soil is visibly moist but not soggy.
  • You don’t necessarily have to water EVERY day – try to gauge when you need to water by a) the state of the soil  (as mentioned above) and b) the state of the plants. Yellowing leaves and wilting are a sure sign that they need more water.
  • If needed, water in the heat of the day – don’t believe everything you read about scorching. We have yet to see real evidence that water landing on the foliage of plants causes them to “burn”. If anything, it is the lack of water from the roots that causes this damage in the foliage! So… If your plants look like they need water in the middle of the day, even if its 30c outside and the sun is blasting, then you can just water them. Equally, if your work hours dictate that the only time you have available to tend to your plot is at midday, then you can water them then.

Related Posts