Vegetable & Plant Watering Guide

July 14, 2009

Clever Watering for Your Vegetables and Flowers

Water is such a vital part of our gardens and I find it so irritating when I see people behaving as though a rainy day is to be seen as a complete disaster. I long to point out that if it weren’t for the water on our lovely planet, our vegetable patches would be dry deserts and worse - we wouldn’t even exist without it!
Here in England we’ve had a wonderful early summer; weeks of sunshine and everyone in a good mood. Everyone but the gardeners that is, who have all been keeping an anxious eye on those fluffy little clouds and wondering when one of them is going to drop some nice, useful rain on our salads and vegetables, and meantime watering everything once a day.
Watering is something that people often forget to think about – but there are ways of getting the best out of the water you need to give your plants when the weather is fine and dry. 

Little and often is not a good idea, it encourages the plant to root near the surface – and then dry out on the day you can’t make it.

If you water plants when the sun is full on them most of the water will be lost to evaporation (and the drops of water will scorch leaves and petals and spoil the appearance of the plants).

Water either, early in the morning or in mid evening - depending on your habits.

The only thing against watering in the evening is, if you live in an area where snails and slugs abound, an evening watering will give them wonderfully slippery pathways to the heaven of your precious plants.

Water the ground, not the leaves (if the ground is damp the leaves will be happier anyway) and aim to give a generous amount to each growing plant.

Tiny plants need water twice a day if it’s really dry – as they only have little roots and cannot take in a lot at one time.

Your salad crops and tomatoes, peppers and egg plants (aubergines) need a good soaking (and an occasional feed of their appropriate plant food).

Squashes, marrows, courgettes are not so critical, although they must not be allowed to dry out or else you will lose your crops.

French beans, runner beans, wax beans, snap peas etc. can benefit from an occasional spray of water over the leaves if you are in the midst of weeks of sunny weather, because if the air is dry around them they will simply cease to flower and therefore not produce any beans and peas.

As I write, a soft rain is falling on my garden – and I’m sure I can see the plants growing!
As always,
Happy horticulture,