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How To Water Vegetables Properly

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on November 9, 2010

Watering seems like one of those no-brainer things but can be deceptively complex.  Generally, with lawns, shrubs, and trees, the goal of watering is not only to keep the plant alive, but to do so in a way that produces strong roots.  Then, the plant can find water on its’ own and we do not have to pour expensive water on the ground around it.  We help the roots grow by watering weekly and doing so in a way that really lets the water soak in deep.  We water one inch all at once and it goes down.  The roots have to go down too in order to get it.  Besides keeping the trees and shrubs hydrated, roots keep them upright.  Water shallowly and often, and when the storms come, shallow roots cannot hold on and the tree falls through your house.  Not a good thing.

With vegetables, however, we want them to grow fast and produce lots of food.  So we water one inch at a time, but more often.  Two or three times a week is good for plants that have started growing.  Seeds and seedlings need water as often as daily.  We want the soil damp but not squishy.  Squishy drowns your seeds and transplants.  Dry starves them.  So damp is best.

Now, watering a garden, especially in a hot place like Texas, costs money.  Those sprinklers you see watering lawns and gardens waste up to 40 percent of the water that comes out of the tap – it evaporates before it touches your plants.  I do not know about you, but I do not want to pay for twice as much water as is going on my plants.

drip irrigation

Drip irrigation before planting and mulching

Drip irrigation is the gold standard of thrifty watering.  It is more expensive the first year when you have to buy the parts, but it really saves money in the long run.  Plus, because the waster is delivered to the roots, disease problems are cut down a great deal.  Wet leaves breed mildew and fungus.  No wet leaves, not nearly as many problems.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia November 9, 2010 at 11:22 am

Way to go Stephanie. Ddrip irrigation is what is recommended here too. With water restrictions in place for the foreseeable future here in Perth, this is worth the initial outlay if we want to grow our own organic veggies. In my new home I do not have the space at the moment to grow my own but do have a farmers’ market nearby that is on once a week. I would love to be harvesting my own organic vegies so have to think about all this as another project once my business is established. Thanks for another great post.

Patricia Perth Australia
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Stephanie Suesan Smith November 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Have you thought of square foot gardening? It is an intensive gardening method done in a 2X2 or 4X4 raised bed with drip irrigation.

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Linda November 10, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Currently I am lucky that I live where there are no current water restrictions, however I am all for methods that will decrease the cost of my water bills.
I have a timer sprinkler system in place and know that a lot of the water does not go where it should especially when it is windy.
Will definitely be looking at the drip filter method in the future.
Thanks for the post.
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Los Angeles DUI Lawyer November 13, 2010 at 12:29 am

Water is essential. We can’t live without it. Plants too can’t survive without it.. I’m glad that I live in a place where water scarcity is not a problem. I can enjoy gardening as a hobby. Actually, my plants there are all in bloom. Thanks anyway for a great post. This is another informative ideas from you.
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Austin from Electrician November 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I do drip, but not with a soaker hose. I laid my line knowing where plants were continuously going to be and punched holes in the hose and plugged it with drips that can regulate how much I want and where. This has worked for all my peppers, tomatoes, squash, and melon. I still hand water my herbs.

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