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How and When to Water Your Vegetable Garden

watering can With proper watering, an edible garden will thrive without necessarily increasing your water bill.  Here's how to most effectively give your garden the moisture it needs:

1) Use reclaimed water from a rain barrel first, if you have it.  Also consider other sources of reclaimed water - your child's swimming pool, water used for rinsing vegetables or thawing meat in the kitchen, or blanching water allowed to come to room temperature.

2) Water only when needed.  If it hasn't rained in a day, feel the soil.  If it is damp just below the soil, wait another day or two.  If it is dry for the first inch or two, get out the hose or watering can.

3) Water deeply.  Soak the soil at the base of the plant thoroughly.  I typically leave the hose on trees and large shrubs for five to ten minutes.  Each 5x5 raised bed gets at least five minutes of watering too.  Watering deeply allows the soil to hold the moisture for an extended time and gives the whole root base a chance to absorb water.

4) Water at morning or night.  If you water in midday, it evaporates so quickly that the plant loses its chance to absorb the moisture.  We typically water in the evening after dinner so the plants have all night to do their thing.

5) Pay special attention to containers.  They will need watering more often than beds, up to once a day in hot weather.  Place containers closely together to help them retain moisture and not dry out too quickly.

child watering garden

6) Watering is a great chore for kids.  They love to use the hose!  If you are using rain barrel water, remind them not to drink it.

Do you have any tips to water well?