Planting a vegetable garden has a whole host of benefits, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Once you’ve decided what, where and when you want to plant, the most important skill you can master is knowing how to water your vegetables. Many gardeners water their gardens to regularly or not regularly enough, but this basic guide should help you find your feet with a routine that works for the crops you’ve chosen.
Grow Up Big And Strong
Every vegetable is different, but one thing they have in common is that they need a lot of care and attention when they first start out. Young vegetables and freshly sown seeds need more water than growing plants because they can’t pull as much moisture from the ground.
When planting vegetables, make sure to water the spot where the seeds are going before you plant them, as watering after can make the soil tough and harder to push through. For young plants, water as close to the roots as possible, but use a watering can to ensure the water is dispersed and gentle.
Eat Your (Leafy) Greens
If you have a vegetable garden that includes leafy greens, then you should pay special attention to them, as these plants need water at every stage of their growth. Cabbages, lettuces and other salad plants need to be watered once a week, ideally every five days if rainfall is scarce.
However, if water is short and you need to ensure their growth, pay special attention to when the cabbages and lettuces begin to form hearts, as this is the stage wherein the ground around the plants should be properly soaked.
Putting Down Roots
Root crops will most likely make up a large part of your garden, so it’s important to know how to properly care for them. However, how often they should be watered will depend on the plant, so make sure to consult an expert if your specific crop isn’t mentioned here.
As a general rule though, beetroots, carrots and parsnips must be watered before the soil dries out. This means they can be left to their own devices while there is regular rain, but if there is a dry spell then they will need special attention. In contrast, onions, shallots and similar plants are much more laid back, and only need to be watered when first planted or in very dry spells.
Containing Your Excitement
Vegetables in containers are especially tricky, as their roots cannot spread out and search for moisture alone. This means they need to be watched carefully and watered often, with ten days (if there is no rain) being a good guideline.
However, avoid watering the leaves themselves, as this is wasteful and can lead to diseased plants. You should check the soil is dry first by digging a small hole, as often the soil will look dry on top but be full of moisture underneath.
The Stem Of Success
Stem vegetables like celery, spinach and chard might not be the most popular option, but it is still a delicious and rewarding addition to any vegetable garden. With that said, these plants are very susceptible to dry spells as this can cause them to “bolt”, meaning they go back to seeding without ever reaching a stage where they can be harvested.
This means they may need watering once a week in the height of summer, and even more often during dry spells. Check the soil to ensure there is no water running off however, as overwatering can encourage slugs and snails as well as washing away valuable nutrients.
Potatoes are a vegetable likely to be on everybody’s list, but they’re also one of the most complicated plants to grow. At first your priority needs to be on not watering them too much, but later in their development it’s crucial not to water them too little.
If you’ve planted them in moist soil, then it may be permittable to wait two weeks after planting to water them again, especially if there’s rain. However, once the plants emerge, they may need watering as often as every three days – although you should take care to stop watering them two weeks before you plan to harvest.