By Zachary Morton
For many growers, one of the biggest concerns is water.
When should I water? How much should I use? What do I do if my garden gets flooded?
“There’s nothing you can really do. You just have to make sure that where you planted your garden, you have good drainage so the water moves away,” said Cooperative Extension agent Amy-Lynn Albertson.
So how much water does your plants need?
“It depends on the growth stage and what your growing for how much water they need. So in general, we can say they need about an inch of water a week for the whole garden. My recommendation is when we go several days without rain then we are going to need to water the garden.”
Some gardeners typically will water just the plant, but not the area around it. Albertson is quick to point out that this is not a good idea, “the roots of that plant are not at that one spot.”
“They are spreading out to other areas. So when you put the water at that one plant, your not getting good watering done. We want to get water to all the roots. When you stick your hand in the soil and it’s dry at one to two inches, then you need to water. The key is to water slow and for a longer period of time instead of bunching a lot of water all at once over the plant.”
One inch of water equals out to 75 gallons of water per 100 square feet. “That will wet the soil at a depth of six inches.”
But be careful about over watering, which can be destructive to your plants.
“You’ll have increasesd disease potential. You may see bacterial blights show up that may have been dormant in the soils until the rain has allowed to come up to the surface. You can also downy mildew when we have a lot of rain.”
“In drought conditions, you need to water. And sometimes after you water, a storm will come up suddenly right after you have done that. That’s a big thing about gardening and farming. It’s dependent on the weather, and sometimes the weather is not nice.”
So how can you prepare and protect your garden from too much watering? Two simple ways: location and drainage.
“Its not unusual for us to have several rainstorms in the summer. And it’s not usually a one-time event. My advice would be to put your garden in an area where that’s not going to be an issue. But if you have chosen a good location, it shouldn’t be a problem.” Albertson also recommends trimming dead leaves and cultivating your garden to help with drainage.
“Cultivating can also help, to where you have more of a raised bed for a furrow system that can help move the water off. And remove damaged leaves and damaged fruit that may be rotting from your garden, because it can become a source for disease.”