Let’s face it, we’ve all done it, stood in the heat with a garden hose in one hand and a cool drink in the other when watering plants. Thing is, you’re getting more of a drink than your plants. The wrong kit, the wrong time of day, too little or too much water can mean you not achieving as much as you thought! Being a bit more savvy goes a long way so follow this advice to help you water wisely.
Make sure you collect water! Rain water is free and you’ll be doing your bit to preserve the environment too. It’s miles better than tap water with no fluorides or additives so set up a water butt that is complete with a downpipe to funnel water from your gutter. Make sure the butt is raised so that there is room to get a watering can under the tap whilst a lid will keep water sweet and clean. See our Water Butt range.
When’s best to water? Water your vegetables either first thing in the morning or in the evening. This means that the water won’t evaporate so quickly and the plants get to soak up the moisture before it gets hot. Before you begin watering push your finger 2cm (3/4 inch) into the soil. If it’s dry then it’s time to water. When watering, remember that it is better to give plants a thorough soak every other day rather than just light watering every day. This helps the plants to develop deep root systems that find the moisture in the soil.
How much water? This rather depends on the vegetables you are growing. By visiting the What To Grow section you’ll get all the guidance you need. Here’ a general brief guide:
- Leafy vegetables such as cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, salads and spinach need to be kept evenly moist at all times as water stimulates leaf growth.
- Root veg like consistent watering but only enough to sustain growth without producing excessive foliage.
- Target some crops at their most critical stages. Seedlings and plants that have just been planted into the ground need special attention. Other examples are tomatoes and sweet corn when they are flowering and fruits when they are swelling.
Remember that too much water is as bad as too little as it encourages crops to put on excessive leafy growth at the expense of edible roots whilst is can delay the harvest time. Aim for 5 litres per square metre weekly on light soils (twice that at critical stages) and 10-14 days on clay.
Find more useful advice on the Effective Watering page in the Growing Advice section.