Watering the Summer Garden

How much water does your garden need?

The heat and thick humidity of summer have arrived in Oklahoma, and even the morning and evening hours are hot and extremely sticky. This is the time of year that I've often just quit watering the garden in the past because it was too awful to stand outside in the heat.

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But I'm determined to see it through, since my garden is doing so well. Keep reading to find out how much water your garden needs plus some tips on watering and some products that might be handy and helpful.

A couple of years ago I used this water tank and a soaker hose. It worked very well, although the water pressure from the tank was rather poor. Eventually the sun weakened the soaker hose; they last longer if you can bury them under mulch or even an inch of soil.

Using a water timer

Now my not-a-soaker hose is hooked up to the faucet near the house instead of to the water tank, with a water timer attached. That water timer has saved me so much money over the past couple of years! I highly recommend them. Hubby and I both tend to leave the water on when filling water troughs... sometimes it's twelve or more hours before we remember!

Amazon carries several water timers; I use this one. The reviews on Amazon are widely varied and many people say that theirs hasn't lasted well. If you prefer to check out the other brands and options, you can find all of Amazon's offerings here.

Personally, I never turn the water timer dial to "off," instead I turn off the faucet and let the timer run out naturally. Mine has lasted for more than two years - I did have to clean out the inside of it at one point by removing the washer, flushing it out and then reassembling it. It's really been a water-saver and money-saver for me, but I want you to know that others have had problems with theirs.

I even have a replacement timer (same brand) in the shed just in case the original quits working!

This water timer has paid for itself many times over in the water that DIDN'T overflow!

How much water does your garden need?

So how much water does your vegetable garden need, anyway? The generally-accepted answer to that question is one inch of water per week. But that's a generalization; many things impact that suggestion. Young plants and container plants require more water more often. High temperatures and wind can wick the moisture out of the ground.

Soil type also affects how much water your garden needs. Sandy soil needs more water. A garden that is rich in organic matter will require less water.

Mulching your garden helps prevent evaporation and keeps your soil moist and cool. I use whatever I have available as mulch: dried grass clippings, straw or hay (beware of weed seeds in hay), and leftover bags of the wood shavings that I use as bedding in the chick brooder. A two- to four-inch layer of mulch is the most effective but keep the mulch at least one inch away from your plant stems.

When and how to water your garden

The best time to water is early in the morning or in the evening when the heat is less likely to evaporate the water, but be careful to keep water off the plant foliage if you water in the evening. Damp foliage is likely to develop fungal problems.

Sprinklers and spray nozzles make watering easier (and I've used them when the heat is really oppressive even in the early morning or late evening), but using a soaker hose or watering by hand with a hose or watering can also help prevent damp foliage and fungal issues.

Saving water

Plants like rainwater better than water from a hose. I guess that isn't a scientific fact but that's what I've noticed in my own garden. Save rainwater if you can; you can put a rain barrel under your downspouts, for instance. I use the rainwater that collects in buckets, the horses' feeders and the wheelbarrow to water my garden.

Water reservoirs will help get you out of the heat faster and put water right at your plants' roots where it's needed.

You could cut the top off of a two-liter soda bottle and punch small holes around the sides and bottom. Bury the reservoir next to your plant and fill it with water from the hose or watering can. The reservoir will allow the water to drip out right at the plants' roots where it's needed most.

HydroRoot puts water right on your plants' roots.

Water reservoirs work especially well in containers. In garden beds, it's a great way to give more water to plants that need more while not drowning the ones that like a drier soil.

Watering deeply but less often encourages plant roots to grow deep root systems, which increases drought tolerance. Water reservoirs put water right where it's the most effective.

Place your plants off-center in the pot so there's room for the HydroRoot reservoir.

Hoses are expensive! If you have a split or broken hose (one of our dogs used to chew on the hose) you can read about how to fix a leaky hose here.

Hopefully the garden and I will both hold out through the hot, humid weather. How do you keep your garden watered in summer?

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  1. Keep us posted on how these work for you!

    1. I will, Danielle. So far, they're working great!

  2. An empty garden pot works as well as purchasing this.

  3. Looks interesting.... it really is hot and humid... whew... 80 degrees at night. Sweltering during the day, but the plants are making it so far. :)

    1. Sweltering is definitely the word! Phew!

  4. Those are interesting! I may have to try a few. I can see how they could really be helpful with some plants.

    1. They are - I especially like having them in containers.

  5. I haven't planted a vegetable garden this year because we are travelling a lot and I was worried about keeping it watered...but these ideas and tools could really help! I particularly like the reservoir gadget. Thank you so much for sharing, Kathi, and for being a part of Hearth and Soul.

    1. Thank you, April, I really enjoy the Hearth and Soul hop and love to participate each week.

      I worry about the garden when we travel too. I try to make it as easy as possible for my farm sitter, and these tools really help. I hope your garden next year is beautiful and productive.

  6. Thanks for the tips about helpful devices for watering. It's a constant chore that you have to stay on top of. We're into the upper 90's with heat indexes over 100 here in coastal Georgia. So, our plants are begging for water.
    Carol ("Mimi") from Home with Mimi

    1. It sounds like Georgia and Oklahoma have similar weather right now, Carol.

  7. Love the idea of the Hydroroot system. Thanks for sharing your gardening tips with us at #overthemoon. have a great week!

    1. You're welcome, Sue - thank you for hosting!

  8. Our year has been so "off" this year here in the N.E. Thank so much for the tips on watering. I especially love the idea of the water reservoir!

  9. This wonderful post is a GARDEN feature on the July You're the STAR blog hop: https://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/2019/07/youre-star-week1-garden-july-2019.html


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