Once you’ve got a garden started, you’ll need to monitor the soil to make sure the plants are getting enough water at the roots. How often should you water a vegetable garden? Be ready to water infrequently, but water deep for best results. You want your plants to set deep roots, and deep watering will encourage this.
Soil Content is Key
If your soil is very heavy, it will hold on to water. Before you plant your garden, you’ll want to amend clay soil with organic material so the roots of your plants can get more nutrition as they reach into the soil. Once planted, work to water at least once per week if you’re not getting deep, soaking rains.
Stretch out and pin down a good quality soaker hose along the rows of your plants. Wear gloves when handling these hoses. The exterior can be quite rough on the skin, particularly if the hose slides through your hands.
Check out this post on our favorite vegetable garden fertilizers!
Fighting Arid Conditions
If your soil is sandy and conditions are dry, such as when you’re gardening in the desert, you can change up your planting layout to protect the soil from excessive drying. For example, wide-leafed plants such as bush beans can be planted in blocks instead of rows. Layout a soaker hose in loose soil, plant a block of beans and keep them wet at the roots as they grow. The leaves will shade the soil and reduce the risk of drying them out.
Remember to feed your plants often to maintain steady growth. Here’s how to make homemade plant food.
In addition to studying how often should you water a vegetable garden, make sure to pay attention to timing. Plants that are doused with water from the top rather than soaked at the roots need to dry off before night sets. Plants that are wet to the touch overnight will be at risk of bugs, blight, and mold growth.
Make watering early a simple process. Consider investing in a watering system with a timer that will turn on automatically before the sun comes up. Water deeply so that the leaves of the plants can dry before the sun gets too hot.
How Often Should You Water a Vegetable Garden? Depends on How Close You Are to Harvest
For plants that produce a fruiting crop above the soil, be prepared to water more frequently. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash all need more water when they’re growing fruit. Peas and beans also need more liquid during their setting season. Lettuce, cabbage, and spinach will need more water than almost any other plants to prevent them from becoming bitter.
Root crops can’t handle that much water. If possible, plant carrots, beets, parsnips, and rutabagas in rows instead of blocks. You want the soil to dry a bit to prevent root crops from developing rot. If possible, water in the vicinity of these plants, and be sure to water deeply to encourage the root tips to reach down.
Spray Sprinklers and Watering Cans
In the “use what you have” thrifty gardening mindset, you may not be in a position to buy soaker hoses. Set your sprinkler in the center of the zone you want to water and let it run for an hour, up to twice a week depending on what you’re growing and the soil consistency. Then move the house to spray the next area. When using a spray sprinkler, always water early to reduce what you lose in evaporation.
Watering cans are charming, but they will get heavy as the summer progresses. You could invest in a watering cart, though soaker hoses might be a better investment.
The great thing about a spray watering system like this one is that you can use it both for watering, feeding, fertilizing, and spraying for pests. It’s a good investment in a multi-tasker for the garden.
If being unable to get outside with the watering can limits your options on how often should you water a vegetable garden, check in with local gardeners to see if anyone has an extra hose or a sprinkler you can use.
Your garden can be amazing with a little attention in the morning. Keep root vegetables a bit drier and keep everything else a little wetter. Keep an eye on your greens and keep them wet. Make sure that setting peas and beans, as well as tomatoes and cucumbers, will need a deep soak for the best results.