Watering & feeding veg plants over the summer

Your plants will have different watering and nutritional needs as we move through the summe. Have a read of this guide for some helpful tips that will give your veg garden the best chance to thrive.

Watering your plants

Too much or too little water can be really stressful for plants, and often the symptoms look the same – discolouration in the leaves, wilting etc. What you want to aim for making sure that there is a good level of consistent moisture a few centimetres beneath the surface of the soil. You can check this at any time by digging your index finger into the soil or using a trowel to have a look. From two centimetres beneath the surface, the soil should have some moisture in it without being waterlogged or dried out.

When they are first planted

This is when they will need the most water, to help get their roots established. If it is dry over the first two to three weeks after planting, water them at least every 2-3 days until they start growing quickly – once they’ve put on a little growth you can drop to watering once or twice a week.

When they get a bit bigger

As long as it is not drought-like conditions, you can get away with watering much less frequently once plants are a little more mature. Watering thoroughly once or twice a week should be sufficient assuming there is some rainfall and cloud cover in between. Keep an eye on your plants though, and remember that those growing in a greenhouse or polytunnel, and most containers and pots will need watering more often.

During drought/very hot, dry spells

Water very early in the mornings if you can, and try to water thoroughly and deeply, being careful not to waste water on those plants that are thriving – test the soil as described above, and give the water to those plants that are struggling the most (these might be wilting more visibly, or turning yellower or developing pale white/brown thin paper-like patches on the leaves).


Feeding your plants

Vegetable plants need a lot of nutrients to be healthy. Giving your plants a liquid feed regularly during the summer is the best way to boost the nutrients in the soil for your veggies. It will benefit all vegetable plants, but particularly those that produce fruits (courgettes, cucumber, tomatoes etc) and leafy crops (spinach, chard, salads.)

It is easy to buy a liquid feed from the local garden centre or look online for an organic liquid feed from seaweed. You can also make your own liquid feed at home. There are three easy ways you can do this, listed below:

Make a wormcast tea

This is fairly quick and easy, and a good option if you’re just watering a few crops using a watering can. Just mix 2 handfuls of wormcast fertiliser in a watering can, leave for 5 minutes and then stir really well before watering your crops.

Make a comfrey feed

Comfrey  can be used as a brilliantly rich, natural fertiliser in organic growing. It draws loads of nitrogen and other nutrients from the soil and stores it all in its leaves. The leaves thus become an instant superfood for other plants and can be used to make a powerful liquid feed, a mulch, a compost accelerator and all sorts of other handy things.

To make a comfrey feed, wait until the plants reach approximately 80cm and then cut the leaves off to leave about 8cm growth on the plant. You can do this several times in the season, until September. Break the leaves up and pop them in a container of water. Leave the mixture, covered or under cover, for between 2 and 4 weeks until it turns a nice light tea colour (if it goes too dark just add more water as it’s a little over concentrated). It’ll become very stinky which is a sign that it’s rich and ready to use!

Use the liquid to feed your veg plants and then throw the rotten leaves into the compost heap, or use them as a mulch.

Make a nettle feed

This is a good idea for those who have patches of nettles growing in corners of the garden. It’s a good way of cutting them back and making use of them rather than digging them up or strimming them to keep them under control.

It is made in the same way as a comfrey tea, described above. With long sleeves and gloves on, cut down your nettles and soak them in a bucket of water for about a week. The water then makes a very good liquid feed, full of nutrients for your veg. The soggy, wilted nettles can be added to the compost heap.

How often to feed plants?

For fruiting plants, we’d suggest feeding them every fortnight from when they start to flower.

For leafy plants, like salads and spinach, a liquid feed in midsummer should be enough to give them a boost.