Our Master Gardener, Lisa, shares important tips for watering your garden in the summer heat. With the heat wave we are experiencing right now and throughout the rest of summer, keeping an eye on our gardens is very important. The extreme heat will cause plant stress. The big thing to remember is to resist the urge to overwater because that could introduce other problems to your vegetable garden. Look to your plants for obvious signs if they are in need of additional water, one being extreme wilting and not recovering from it by morning.
If your plants are well-established, they will definitely be more robust. Their leaf canopy will help to shade the soil, and, if needed, you can also spread mulch to help keep the soil cooler. If you decide to use mulch, please remember to keep it a few inches away from the base of the plant so the water will be able to directly reach the roots of the plant.
To also help in conserving water, make sure you are watering at the soil line at the base of each plant. This watering style ensures that the plants are receiving the water directly, that you are watering more effectively, and that the leaf canopy is not blocking the water (which can occur if watering overhead).
The main rule of thumb for watering vegetable gardens is simple: vegetables need an inch of water per week in the summertime, whether it’s provided by you or Mother Nature. (Use a rain gauge to help determine the amount of rain you have received each week). This converts roughly to six gallons per square yard per week. This inch of water will wet the root zone to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.