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Watering To water or not to water? Plants need water, but when Notes for

the Novice T

he three basic topics essen- tial for all gardeners to understand − watering,

fertilizing and weeding − are often taken for granted. For the novice, and those who need a little refresher, we've outlined the basic details you need to know to make your garden a success.

18 • Spring 2015

is it too much? How do you know when to water when every plant has different needs? Too much water will cause roots to rot, too little and plants will not thrive or be able to recover from periods of drought. Vegetables require a good, deep watering one to three

times per week. You can determine the quality of each watering by checking the soil moisture. Probes inserted into the soil will let you know how deeply the water has penetrated, or you can always do things the old fashioned way. In a container check moisture by inserting your finger into the soil, if the soil feels dry, it needs water. In the garden use a trowel and check moisture at three to four inches below the surface. Providing plants with small feed- ings of water can do more damage than not watering them at all. Light watering causes roots to remain close to the surface instead of penetrating deep into the soil where they are able to find moisture in periods of drought. If you want to save yourself a lot of time consider install-

ing a drip-irrigation tube or soaker hose system. They water plants more efficiently and minimize soil distur- bance. Garden beds should be soaked eight inches deep; this is where sprinkler and irrigation systems are helpful. A plant's needs change − as they mature, plants need

more water for fruit and bloom production; as weather cools, plants need less water; on hot days they may need multiple, deep waterings. Annuals should be watered early in the day so that leaves are not wet during cool evenings; gentle sprays are best. When watering containers be sure to soak plants until excess water flows freely out of the drainage holes. Saucers to hold excess water are useful and will assist plants on hot days.

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