deep watering question

springtogarden(6)July 4, 2013

I rented a plot in a community garden. Done some container gardening but never raised-bed gardening. I have mostly veggies in my garden. I realize that not all plants are to be watered the same but a fellow gardener told me she waters for 30 minutes for each of her plots and she has some mixed veggies. Her plots are the same size as mine. I didn't get a chance to ask her how often she does this soak. My summer temps are usually mid to upper 80s. Would watering once a week for 30 minutes be sufficient for those temps? I have read shallow watering isn't great for plants. I can't use a water soaker; only water by hose. My plot is 4x20. If I have a hotter week, like 90s and 100s would bi-weekly watering for 30 minutes be ok? I am getting the hang of it and learning as I go :). Everything is green so that's good but now the summer temps have kicked in and I am confused on how to water. Thanks in advance and happy 4th!

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

On a plot your size, 4x20, one inch water is about 50 gallons. That could easily be applied in 30 minutes if the soil will accept water that fast. That's a fairly slow flow rate from a normal garden hose. In really hot dry weather you might need 100 gallons a week, still doable.

Normal full flow rate from a garden hose is 4-5 gpm. In 30 minutes that's 120 to 150 gallons, upwards of 3 inches.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 10:14AM
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IAmSupernova(SE Texas 9A)

How often you need to water really depends on too many variables for someone to just say "yes, 30 minutes once a week is fine" or "No, you'll need at least twice a week for 45 minutes" (although I'm sure they can make educated guesses). It just all depends how fast your soil dries out and that's kinda difficult for someone over the internet to guess.

I used the finger test and wilting to learn when to water (after awhile it just becomes natural). Basically you just stick your finger down in the soil a couple of inches, if it's dry you water, if it's still nice and wet, you don't. I would also look for any signs of wilting and when it would start to wilt I knew it was time to water again and next time I needed to do it a little sooner.

Right now, I'm watering at least every other day and some of my stuff is getting watered everyday, but we've been seeing 95-100+ degrees the past week or so. I probably wouldn't have to water so often if I used mulch, but it's been problematic for me so right now I'm just not using it.

This post was edited by IAmSupernova on Thu, Jul 4, 13 at 10:22

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 10:20AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Keeping in mind that over-watering kills far more plants than under watering ever does, I'd sure take the time to first determine if the plants even need watering. Trying to do it on some sort of set schedule and for a set amount of time almost always results in OVER-watering.

As is often discussed here, a dry surface soil condition is not a valid indicator for the need to water. Many soils can be dry on the surface but wet 4" down.

Besides hopefully the soil surface is covered with mulch so you can't see it anyway. Not to mention that it means much less watering is needed when mulched.

Taking the time to stick your fingers 4-6" deep into the soil to check moisture levels is well worth the effort.

I can't use a water soaker; only water by hose.

They won't let you lay a soaker hose out in your bed under the mulch? Wonder why. It sure saves water plus is much more effective and better for plants.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 10:28AM
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Thanks all for your tips! I meant to mention that I recently laid down mulch so that should help extend the time too. I did the finger test yesterday and one of my plots was still somewhat wet after two 100 degree days. But I think I have been making the mistake of not soaking for long enough. Before, I would just water till I saw puddles. My soil is excellent from what I have been told :). The guy who had the plots before me did a great job and my plants seem to be doing well and thriving. But I am new and have lots to learn. Been doing ACT every few weeks and there are tons of worms in my plots. I am just trying to find that happy medium for watering. Will test it out by soaking them Saturday, waiting a few days and doing the finger test.

Dave- The property is owned by the city and they have strict guidelines. They provide the water but we all share the hoses and come and go at different times. So there is no way to set this up. I would do it if I had my own property. I think I've done well not overwatering so that's something good I've been doing. I am glad to know overwatering is more dangerous.

Thanks Again!

This post was edited by gardengal13 on Thu, Jul 4, 13 at 10:59

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 10:48AM
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In my summer-dry climate I would water more like an hour once a week for young plants. Then once every two weeks as the plants get bigger.

Deep soaks farther apart in time encourage the plants to send down deep roots.

You can basically emulate a soaker by turning on your hose to a fairly small stream (finger sized if watering for 39 minutes, pencil sized if doing it for an hour) and laying the hose on the soil surface. For your long rectangular bed, move the hose once every 10-16 minutes, so you soak1/4 of the bed at a time.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 3:00PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

What if you laid soaker hoses in your bed under the mulch permanently, then leave the end with the connector sticking out? Then when you go to harvest, just connect it to the community hose and turn it on. (assuming the bed needs water, of course) Turn off and disconnect as you leave. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 4:23PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

I was thinking the same thing as donnabaskets. If you connect the soaker hose to the main hose while you are there pulling weeds or planting or whatever then disconnect it before you leave, you shouldn't have a problem.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 4:51PM
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Hi all,
NilaJones that is definitely something I can do. I love this idea! I will go early in the morning when no one is there and time it out.
Donnabaskets and Rodney, I will look into that. The owner, the city, is so picky but I don't think they would mind this. They won't even allow animal manure so I will see. But they do allow worm tea, thank goodness!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 1:00AM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

I suspect this suggestion is less handy for a community garden, where you have to make a trip to assess it, but in my garden I use squash and cukes as soil moisture indicators. They droop or wilt when the soil moisture gets too low for them. That drooping is natural, and in no way indicates damage to the plants. When they droop, they're telling me it's time to water, whereupon I do so, and they perk right up. If I wait for such drooping in tomatoes, peppers, or leaf veggies, it's somewhat too late. So squash and cukes put out "early warning" signals for dry soil, and I can see the signal by just looking out my window. I don't even need to go outside.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 12:19PM
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Hi Daninthedirt, I will keep that in mind when I do have a garden near me. Such a cool thing to learn :). I am hoping to move and have my garden on my property next year but for now I have to drive to my garden. I am grateful to have it; I just want it at my house :)!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 6:42AM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

I'm with ya, Gardengal. I used to do community gardening, which was a wonderful introduction to gardening in a real plot. But yes, garden management works differently when you have to drive to your garden.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 10:56AM
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It sure does :). I can't wait to have my own space. But this is a great way to learn and some of the members know so much. I am trying to soak it all up.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 8:13PM
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