Summer Gardening Tip #1: Summer Watering

As the ground dries out from the winter and spring rain, your seedlings will need careful watering for the best summer and fall harvest. In honor of our first first real week of summer sunshine, we thought it would be good to provide some information on summer watering.  Take a look below!

WHEN TO WATER:

We recommend watering in the early morning. This gives time for the water to soak down to the plants’ roots before the sunniest part of the day. You may also water in the late afternoon, just before sunset, unless you have mildew or fungus problems. If you water in the middle of the day, you will lose water because the moisture will evaporate in the sun. You can also cause leaf-burn if wet leaves sit in bright sun.

HOW OFTEN TO WATER:

  • Seedlings and young plants need lots of watering to keep the soil and root systems moist. Water seedlings and young plants at least once a day.
  • Older plants can be watered less often. Most gardens in Portland will need watering once every 2 or 3 days in the summer. When it’s very hot out, they may need watering every day.

To figure out whether or not your garden needs water:

  • Try the “Finger Test”: Stick a dry finger into the soil to your 2nd knuckle.
  • If the soil feels moist, don’t water. If it feels dry—water!

Do this every day, and you will get an idea of how often you need to water.
If your plants are wilting, they are not getting enough water. If your plants turn yellow, they may be getting too much water. Be careful not to over-water, as waterlogged soil is not good for the soil or for your plants.

HOW TO WATER:

  • Water the soil at the base of the plant, not the plant itself.
  • A gentle sprinkle of water is better than a strong stream. If the soil gets pushed around when you’re watering, try turning down the hose pressure, or water closer to the ground.
  • Avoid getting water on plant leaves. Drops of water on leaves can cause sun-burn. Wet leaves also can encourage fungus problems.

WATERING A CONTAINER GARDEN:

Container gardens have to be watered more often, because containers hold less water than the ground.

  1. We suggest watering containers every morning. When you see a little bit of water coming out of the holes at the bottom of the container, it has enough water. If lots of water comes out of the holes, add less water next time.

CONSERVING WATER:

As the temperatures rise, it is important to take steps to conserve moisture in your garden beds (and protect our important freshwater resources). Here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Mulch! Cover any bare soil in the garden with some kind of mulch (leaves, wood shavings, straw). This can help hold the moisture in your soil, and keep water from evaporating in the sun.
  2. Collect Rain Water: Save rain water and use it in your garden! You can use 55 gallon barrels, or clean trash-cans. Remember to cover them after they’re full, so they don’t attract mosquitoes!
  3. Use a Soaker Hose: Soaker hoses are lined with little holes that slowly drip water onto the soil. String the soaker hose so that all of your plants are 1 foot or closer to the hose. Turn it on low for 20 minutes every other day. In the peak of the summer, you may need to turn it on once a day.
  4. Visit this Oregon State Extension page for more info on conserving water in your vegetable garden.

We wish you lots of good luck in your summer garden.  Stay tuned for some tips on summer planting for a great fall harvest!

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