Guide to Watering.

 New gardeners will often find themselves wondering if they are watering correctly. After all watering is a key factor in the success of your plant's health. In order for you the gardener to have a bountiful harvest you need to identify when a plant needs water and how much it needs. I’ll also discuss how we can minimize watering our gardens to save time and money.

A common symptom for when a plant needs water is when the leaves are drooping, shown in the picture to the left. Plants take the water that's in the leaves and sends it down to the roots in order to survive. You will see this happen to plants on very hot days as well. So how do you tell if the plant needs water if this happens? Simply, take a look at your plants once the sun is down, if the plant still looks sad and droopy then water ASAP. 

Another sign to see if your plant needs water is to stick your finger in the dirt up to the second joint. If you find that the soil is dry, you should water, if it's moist then you can hold off. This is a very simple but yet effective method.

So you've identified that your plants need water. Now you’re probably wondering how much and often should I water? Is there a specific time I should? Plants should be getting an inch of water a week. If you find you are getting little to no rain you should water 2 times a week. It's important that plants get the proper amount of water. The time of day also plays a big part of when you should water. You should be watering first thing in the morning before the sun has fully risen. This allows the soil to absorb the water so the roots get water. Otherwise if you wait, the water could evaporate before it's been absorbed into the soil. Avoid watering midday for this reason, it's a waste of time and money. If you can't water first thing in the morning, sunset will be fine as well. Be aware if you have greens like lettuce, watering before dark could attract slugs which will destroy your crop. Watering properly will encourage good growth and lead to larger fruits. This is also what gives fruits and veg such a juicy and tasty flavor. Developing a watering schedule will pay huge dividends in the end. 

Some things we can do to mitigate watering and save some money on our water bill is mulching. A simple remedy to these watering issues is by layering our garden in a thick layer of mulch, usually 2-4 inches will do. Common forms of mulch are straw, sugarcane, dried grass clipping and wood chips that aren’t dyed. 

The mulch will form a protective layer that prevents the sun from hitting the soil causing evaporation. This helps retain moisture in the soil and retain money in your pocket. Mulching is a great tool if you live in area that has frequent or prolonged droughts. Using mulch also will add nutrients to the soil as it’ll decompose over time. 

Learning how to water properly is a key ingredient to the success of your garden. Just this simple factor can make or break both your garden and enjoyment of gardening. Taking time out of your day to learn about watering is worth it’s weight in gold. 



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