With dry weather upon us and veg plants growing fast, there is never a more important time to do your watering best for your precious crops.
I am rubbish at watering. I love sowing, nurturing and harvesting, but watering can be a bit… well, boring. Here are 7 tips I follow to help keep me on the watering straight and narrow.
Sowing Seeds - Plants also need more water depending on what stage of their life they’re at. Seedlings need plenty as they only have a small root growth, so can’t reach right down to the moisture retained in the soil. They also need the water (together with warmth) to provide the strength to break the seed shell and start germinating.
Look After Your Seedlings - Make sure seedlings get lots of water too. This is the infancy stage of a plant, and is a vulnerable time for them. Your seedlings need you after they’ve been planted out, keep an eye on them, especially in dry weather. They’ll need regular watering to ensure the roots grow strong.
Water When Flowering - The next important watering time for plants is when they begin to flower, particularly where beans and peas are concerned. This is when they’re forming pods, and require water to provide a productive harvest. A regular soaking of potatoes during flowering will also help increase the size of your spuds.
Planting Out - When planting out, create a recess or ridge around your plants. This is how I plant out my courgettes, squashes, tomatoes and cucumbers and it really helps keep the water in and around the root of the plant. I’ve found that loosening the soil around my plants also helps, as this stops the water running off when the ground is like concrete or I’ve been lumbering around and treading it down.
Watering Level Requirements of Different Veg - Many of the common varieties of veg grown on my allotment are effectively drought resistant. These include leeks, radishes, carrots, beetroot, PSB, sprouts, onions, spring greens, parsnips and perpetual spinach. Carrots and parsnips have long roots which reach down to find water and nutrients. Some veg growers I know don’t water these veg as they believe it forces the roots deeper and makes for a bigger veg. Tomatoes, courgettes and other water based veg require regular watering. Leafy crops are thirsty drinker too – watch out for wilting. Don’t panic if the leaves do wilt. A good soaking will soon perk the plants up.
Create a Watering Routine - Regular and consistent watering is vital. Try and get a routine going, especially in the dry weather. Irregular watering can cause problems for your plants, such as splitting roots, bolting and disease. I focusing my watering on the crops that need it most seems the obvious way forward, and try to water my established veg once a week, my squash and toms twice a week, and my little seedlings and container plants three times.
Best Times to Water? - Early morning and late evening are the best times to water as the temperatures are lower and therefore evaporation reduced. I prefer the morning as I don’t like to leave soil and veg damp overnight whilst slug and snails are on the prowl.