I just checked on weather.com and found that in the past 5 weeks we’ve had 1.3″ of rain. I knew things were dry but I didn’t realize how dry until I saw that statistic.
When you’re growing plants outside in the vegetable garden it’s the general consensus that you need about 1″ of rain per week for things to grow normally and not be stressed. If that’s the case, then we’re at a 4″ deficit… no wonder the lawn is brown, the corn fields have curled leaves and I’ve had to water.
The truth is that I’m not a big fan of watering the vegetable garden. I usually let the plants do their own thing, but sometimes watering is necessary and recently, I decided it was necessary.
The eggplants and peppers are a little small and working hard to get established – the last thing they need is drought stress. The zucchini, beans and cucumbers have started to set fruit and water’s vital to this process. I also have 100s of green tomatoes on the vines. With too much drought they could develop blossom end rot, a disease caused by lack of calcium absorption, something that’s a problem when it’s too dry.
When I finally make the decision to water, I really water. I use a soaker hose and weave it through the plants and the rows of plants. I leave it on for an hour or two and I only do it once a week. I don’t want only the top layer of the soil to be moist; I want the water to get deeply into the ground.
If you only sprinkle a little water on the top of the soil every day the plant’s roots will start to develop in the surface layers of the soil. This sets the plant up to be very sensitive to drought. However, if you soak the soil deeply, the roots will grow down into the soil and the plant will be much more drought tolerant. Deeply and weekly – that’s the best advice when it comes to watering.
I also like the soaker hose because it keeps the leaves of the plants dryer than an oscelating sprinkler. In the hot, humid weather that we’ve had recently, the last thing I want is a garden that’s full of plants with wet leaves. This is a recipe for fungal diseases. The dryer I can keep the tops of the plants while getting water to their roots, the better.
I know the rain will come again, but until it does, I’ll be watering deeply and weekly. I just hope it’s not too many more weeks.