Are you over watering? Five ways to save water and make your vegetables more resilient
As the temperatures rise and the sun starts to grace us with its presence the temptation is to get out in the garden of an evening and drench everything in sight but are you doing more harm than good? Vic Hobson offers some advice that might come as a shock to some of you and a revelation to others.
1. When transplanting seedlings, water into the hole before planting. The water is therefore around the roots of the seedling and soaking into the ground around the roots, encouraging the roots down. Unless the weather is scorching hot, don’t water again until the fruit and veg is forming. If it is scorching, a weekly soak is much better than a daily sprinkle. A daily light watering is the worst thing you can do.
2. Your lovely long carrots and parsnips are tap roots. You want them to grow straight down in search of water. If you water the tops of the plants you will get short vegetables with hairy roots coming off them at the top. Unless it hasn’t rained for 2-3 weeks, you don’t need to water these vegetables.
3. Similarly potatoes. They don’t need much water. There will be water in the soil below the surface for them to find and if you sprinkle water on the top you will encourage the potatoes to the top where they will turn green.
4. While plants are establishing, you want them to send down long roots. You don’t want roots at the surface, which are much more vulnerable to drought. Watering the surface keeps roots at the surface. Leave them for a while to send down lengthy roots and they will survive much better in the long run.
5. Only when vegetables such as beans are fruiting do they need more water. Try to leave them when they are a green plant.
A few exceptions
Your fruit trees are a different matter, though, and will need a lot of water in their first years. Concentrate on them and save water on the other vegetables!
If you want a regular crop of juicy leaves from salads such as lettuce they will need more water.
Vegetables grown in pots need watering much more often, every day probably. Terracotta pots especially can lose water within a day.
Don’t forget to mulch
Mulch is critical. A thick layer of compost and manure on the surface prevents evaporation from the soil. Stack a thick layer of mulch around your plants and it will keep in the heat as well as water. You don’t need to dig in manure (ever). Worms will do the work for you.
Vic Hobson runs Mudlarks, a community gardening project for adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues. For more information on how you can get involved as a gardener or a volunteer Tel: 07835 714766 or Email: email@example.com
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