Nobody Likes a Thirsty Garden

Jul 18, 2023

Sunny days and sweltering heat can be rough on your garden. After all, your plants get thirsty just like you do! When the weather is dry, though, you may need to adjust your watering techniques to give your garden the nutrients it needs to thrive. 
Here are five helpful irrigation tips to care for your garden like a pro this summer.
Water Early
The best time to water your garden is early in the morning when temperatures are cooler. This gives the water time to run down into the soil and reach the roots of the plant before being lost to evaporation. Plants then have a stash of water to get through the heat of the day, and their leaves have time to dry before nightfall, which helps to prevent fungal diseases. Another benefit of watering in the morning is less water loss due to wind, which generally increases in the afternoon and can blow water away from your plants and onto the yard.
Avoid the Leaves
         While watering in a broad sweeping motion can be fun, it’s far from efficient. Soaking your plants’ leaves offers no benefit, as leaves are mostly unable to absorb the water’s nutrients, anyways. Furthermore, excess water can lead to fungal diseases that thrive on moisture. So, while it’s impossible to completely avoid getting your plants’ leaves wet, it is best to avoid it as much as possible. If you still want to water your plants’ leaves, though, it is recommended to limit the frequency to once a week.
Don’t Overwater
         Even in the summer, overwatering can be an issue. When you water your garden too often or too much, the soil will become waterlogged, which prevents oxygen from reaching the plants’ roots. This can lead to rotten roots and loss of vigor in your plants. Slow growth and yellowing leaves, soft and limp leaves, and constantly wet soil are common signs of overwatering. Therefore, make sure your plants actually need to be watered before you do so. If the soil is still damp a few inches into the soil, watering is likely unnecessary.
Use Mulch
         Mulching your garden is a key step to maintaining the moisture in the soil. Applying a thin layer of mulch will minimize the evaporation of water in the soil and help to prevent runoff when watering. In fact, plants need 25-50% less moisture after adding mulch! Just make sure not to use too much, as this can make it harder for water to penetrate deep into the soil. A two-to-three-inch layer should be sufficient.
Postpone Fertilizer
         Avoid fertilizing your plants while they are under heat stress. Some plants protect themselves by going dormant when summer arrives as they redirect all their energy into staying alive. During this time, they will not be able to absorb and consume the nutrients in fertilizer like they would in springtime and fall temperatures. Excess fertilizer, especially nitrogen, can burn plants in dry conditions, and the excess salt can actually hurt a plant’s ability to weather a drought by restricting the flow of water up the roots and stem. Therefore, limit your fertilizing to the spring and fall.
         Your local Co-op has everything you need to keep your garden healthy this summer. Visit us for a wide variety of gardening and irrigation supplies! Find the nearest location here.
For more content like this, check out the latest issue of The Cooperator.

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