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Over the Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Watering the Vegetable Garden

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator

Gardeners may let the lawn go dormant and use the water to keep the vegetable patch alive and producing during these stressful weeks without natural rainfall. There are several ways to get the job done depending on your time and watering equipment you have in the garden shed or garage. A typical sprinkler used for the lawn will work. Set it up to put as much water on the garden and not so much everywhere else. Any time overhead watering is done, it is much better to do this early in the day so there is no free water to promote foliage diseases that would be around if you watered just before dark. Disease organisms just need the overnight hours with water present to germinate and infect our vegetables. The first time you use the lawn sprinkler for watering the lawn, you should measure how long it takes to put approximately one inch of water on the garden. With some sprinklers this could be several hours.

Another method if you have the time and need to unwind at the end of the day is to use a watering wand and direct the water to the garden soil around the base of the plants, moving from plant to plant and then repeating until you have gotten that inch of water applied. Using the watering wand will keep the foliage dry and put the water exactly where it is needed by the plants. The watering wand with. The water breaker should allow the full flow of water to gently flow out of the wand and not blast the soil around which can cause diseases again by splashing soil and disease organisms up onto foliage.

The third method of water takes the most time to set up and the most dollars to be spent in equipment. Drip irrigation allows you to turn on the water faucet and walk away knowing the plants will be watered and no foliage will get wet. You can get a basic pre made kit or a build your own kit at most good garden centers. Once you have your garden planted, you can lay down drip lines near the base of the plants if you have put in transplants and next to the row if you have started vegetables from seed. Just like the overhead sprinkler, you will need to measure how long it takes to get the needed water into the soil. After that it is a matter of turning on and off the water. Another piece of equipment could be a watering timer that either runs on batteries with a scheduling program or one that runs off the water pressure when the system is turned on. The time with the scheduler is really good if your time at home is variable and you want to be sure the garden is watered while you are away.

Another trick will be to mulch the garden soil once it has been thoroughly moistened with any of the ways you water. A mulch layer will retain more soil moisture and keep the soil cooler as well. The mulch evens out the moisture loss, allowing the garden plants to benefit. Lastly, the overhead sprinkler will use the most water, the drip the least.

 

 



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