Water is an essential to plant life and although plants differ in their needs, none would survive without it. During the dry months of January, February and March water becomes even more important, the sun is at its maximum daylight hours and plants are at the height of their growth and production. Fruit and vegetables are at their swelling stage – this is the plumping and filling out of the fruit and vegetables, water is now vital to the success of your harvest.
It is easy to spot a water deprived plant they will show signs of wilting, poor fruit development; they also become a target for pest and diseases. By giving plants their necessary water requirements it enables the plant to maintain its sap levels and it is these sap levels that are its life’s blood.
Watering your garden will be your biggest task over summer. Practising good water saving techniques isn’t expensive, especially when you consider the time and money that we spend on the garden. Often it is just about planning and making better use of the equipment you already have.
Water less often but more thoroughly, whether you use a sprinkler or water by hand it is important to take your time. Water needs to reach the subsoil to do the most good, surface water will evaporate quickly in the hot sun.
Check – don’t assume that you have watered enough, dig down in to the soil, it should be wet to at least 5cm deep to have done any good.
Consider when you water, watering during the heat of the day is wasteful; water will evaporate before it can be used by the plants. Watering in the early morning is the best but the early evening is fine at this time of year.
If you choose to water by hand take your time, waving the nozzle over the plants is wasteful, the water will sit on the surface and evaporate, without even penetrating to the subsoil. Plants need to have a good soak, water one plant at a time if necessary.
Pots suffer in the summer because they are exposed on all sides to the sun. The soil will shrink away from the sides of the pot as they dry out, you will notice this when you water, as the water pours down the sides and out the bottom. Water them often and deeply, minimise their exposure to the sun by grouping them together, or move them in to a shady spot in the garden for the summer.
Use a hose fitting with a stop valve, this fitting is a normal connector with the added feature of water stop valve. This means that it will only let water through when a fitting is attached. No more water pouring out of the end while you find or change your gun or nozzle.
Get Mulching Water evaporates very quickly when it reaches the soil, it is important to conserve the water so plants can use it. A layer of mulch prevents the sun and wind from penetrating to the soil, retaining the moisture around the root zone where it is needed.
Sprinklers are a great time saver; so spend some time setting up it up right – no point watering the path or your neighbour’s garden! Record how long it takes to reach the subsoil then you can fix the time on a tap timer – a forgotten sprinkler can waste a lot of water.