Making sure your plants are well watered will make the world of difference to your crops when you harvest them. “Well watered” doesn’t just mean “watered a lot” though. We think of it more as making sure the veg get the right amounts of water at the right time…
As a general rule, veggies don’t handle large differences between very wet and dry soil. They find it stressful. They much prefer having access to consistently moist soil, and ensuring that they have this will save you no end of apparent crop failures and diseases. Here are some things that you will help to avoid by making sure your plants are “well watered”:
- Blossom end rot on tomatoes and squashes
- Split carrots/split tomatoes
- Fungal diseases
- Canker in parsnips
- Celeriac that doesn’t grow big enough
- Brassicas and salads that bolt
- Leaf curl on tomatoes
- Wilting leaves and poor crops
What we’d suggest is that you aim to follow these 5 rules until you have gained enough gardening experience to just “know” when you need to water.
- When you first plant your veg, soak the roots before you plant them, water them in on planting and then water them every morning for a week (unless it rains).
- Once plants are established, water them every 2-3 days (unless it rains) or every day if it is hot like last summer.
- Water in the mornings if you can, but if you see a plant is wilting during the day don’t be afraid to water it in the midday sun!
- Always aim for soil that is moist but not waterlogged (open a bag of compost and this is the kind of moisture level that most plants love).
- Check moisture levels below the surface. Last summer, the soil could appear moist on the surface, but a couple of cm below it was totally dry. Prod a finger into the soil, or loosen it with a trowel to check.