In this guide, we would walk you through everything you need to know on how often to water a vegetable garden in summer. Even if you’ve already nailed this part of vegetable gardening, you just might learn something new from here today.
It is impossible to grow a vegetable garden successfully without watering it. This shouldn’t be a problem in the summer where you can have days or even weeks of rainfall perfect for the garden. But life is never completely perfect. The blessings of summer rain can be accompanied by a stretch of days that are hot and dry due to the absence of rain. Watering or irrigating the garden becomes essential or the consequences can be dire for the plants.
How Often to Water Vegetable Garden in Summer
How often you should water your garden in the summer is mostly a question of schedule covering the amount of water to use each watering session, the best time of the day to do it, and the number of times per week.
That said, there are other factors to consider when it comes to garden irritation in the summer. These ‘considerations’ seem like the best place to start before going into what summer vegetable garden irrigation entails.
Some Important Factors to Consider In Watering Vegetable Garden in Summer
First, you need to consider the type of soil you have in the garden. Not all soil types hold water the same way.
Sandy soils, for instance, dry out quicker than heavier soils like clay-like and loamy soils. The heavier soil varieties have a higher moisture retention capacity and but are more susceptible to over-watering. So you need to keep that in mind.
The best soil type combines both properties: optimal drainage and water retention. Applying mulch is one of the best ways of improving the moisture or retention capacity of garden soil.
How much rainfall or lack of it determines how often to water the garden. Basically, you don’t have to water often in rainy conditions. On the other hand, during long dry spells, watering the garden often is compulsory.
The type of plants
The types of plants you have in the garden can also affect how often to water because not all plants have the same water requirements.
Generally, large plants need more water than smaller plants. You can add newly planted vegetables in the ‘need more water’ column too.
Vegetables, as well as several perennials and bedding plants, would need more frequent watering (in some cases even daily) due to their shallow root systems.
For container crops, watering can be virtually every day, especially in dry, hot weather. It is not uncommon for gardeners to water potted vegetables up to 3 times daily in these conditions.
So How Often Should You Water Your Vegetable Garden in Summer?
There are simply no hard and fast rules due to several variables some of which were outlined in the section above.
Generally, though, you are expected to water your vegetables at least 2-3 times per week when the weather is really hot. Seedlings, though, require more water. The general rule is to water them twice daily until they are established.
What is critical is making sure you water the garden really deep to promote the downwards growth of deep roots away from the surface.
Below are some summer vegetable watering tips to get the best from your garden:
Water early in the morning
Early in the day is the best time to water a vegetable garden. This prepares the veggies for the ‘stress’ of midday heat and allows for uninterrupted growth.
Watering in the afternoon is inadvisable because the water would evaporate faster from the ground.
You should water deeply so that the nutrients, from the compost and fertilizers at the top, filter down to the roots. The more you water, the more the nutrients are pushed down into the soil.
The washing off of harmful salts present on the soil is another benefit of deep watering. This is mostly beneficial to young roots that are susceptible to the harmful effects of these salts.
Conversely, not watering deeply can actually pull the salts to the surface. The presence of greyish or whitish deposits (soil salts) on the soil’s surface soon after watering is an indication the garden wasn’t watered deeply.
Look out for wilting plants
Wilting is a sign that the garden is dry and needs water. If you have vegetables like squash, cucumber, or melon, their droopy leaves are a signal the garden needs watering.
However, it must be said that wilting plants on a sunny day are not always alarming bells prompting you to water the garden. Some plants exhibit this symptom while trying to adapt to upward temperature swings in the environment. To be sure, check on the plants later in the evening and see if the plants have regained their turgidity. If they have or are looking more sprightly, then you don’t have to water the garden.
Water the garden when it’s windy
Winds are natural soil drying agents. Winds hasten the evaporation of water from the soil and plants ultimately depriving your vegetables of much-needed moisture.
If the weather forecast predicts a windy day, the best course of action is to make sure the vegetable garden is watered deeply.
Water the garden when it rains
Most newbie vegetable gardeners assume wrongly that plants have enough water when it rains. This is not entirely correct especially when days of hot, dry weather precedes rainfall.
Rainfall, after a dry spell, results in rainwater running off the sun-hardened surface. Not enough water would penetrate the soil. But a vegetable garden that is constantly cultivated lightly should be porous enough to let the water sink into the soil.
One way to find out if enough water after rainfall has sunk into the soil is to use a soil probe. We would look at the optimal depth water must penetrate the soil to be considered good for healthy plant growth in the next section.
How much water do vegetable gardens need in summer?
Taking into consideration that the best type of summer garden watering is deep, 1 inch of water per week is about right. This is defined in terms of how deep the layer of water is over the garden’s entire soil surface.
Sometimes the challenge is about how to determine if the garden has enough water after rainfall. Apart from purchasing a rain gauge, there are some neat DIY tricks you can use to settle this.
For instance, simply place about 4 straight-sided containers around the garden while it is raining. Measure the height of water in the containers from the bottom. if the water level is up to an inch in each container, that shows your garden had up to one inch of water.
If the water isn’t up to an inch, that indicates you don’t have enough water. So you have to water the garden.
But you can’t just depend on surface water only. The depth of the water in the soil is equally important. This determines the level of water penetration into the soil.
You could make a soil water depth measuring device using a 3-foot long metal rod about an inch in diameter. Each mark at the 1 and 2-foot points on the rod. Use this probe to measure the soil water moisture by pushing it into the soil.
Since most vegetable roots grow down to between 18 and 24 inches, your probe should tell if the soil is moist up to that depth.
More Summer Vegetable Garden Watering Tips
– Water enough times so the roots always remain moist. Don’t over-water though as it may affect the growth of the vegetables. Some plants die due to too much watering
– Avoid watering the leaves as much as possible to avoid foliar diseases. It’s best to target the soil only while watering.
– For dense vegetation or large vegetable plants, it is advisable to lay your house on the ground during watering.
– You can direct the water to the desired direction by digging a small trench around the vegetables and make the water flow into it.
– Mulched soils don’t need as much watering as others because they remain water better
– You can use a small watering can to water your garden
– For large gardens, consider using a long hose with holes punctured at regular intervals. This ‘drip irrigation’ system can deliver water easily around the garden. If done right, the plants can get as much water as they need without the risk of over-watering.