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Vegetable Gardening Hints, Issue #057
June 03, 2013

The Importance of Proper Watering your Veggies

For vegetable plants to grow well and produce food the plant roots must draw nutrients from the soil. When soil is moist the water helps to hold the nutrients in rock particles so the plant roots can absorb them. This is why it is essential for regular deep watering when growing vegetables.

If there is too little water the roots cannot draw in the nutrients they need, which means the plant will not mature proper and may become stressed making it more susceptible to disease. Wilting is one easy way to spot if your plants are getting enough water. If the plant can draw enough water to replace the amount that is evaporated from its leaves it will remain upright and strong. Some natural wilting may occur in the heat of the day, however if it does not perk up by late afternoon there is a problem. It is important to water a plant that is wilted as soon as possibly and it is best to water around the base of the plant. Other signs of under watering may be small very slow growing plants, yellowish or pale in color rather than have a bright color, and they are not producing many fruits, seeds or bud or the ones being produced are often misshapen.

There are some clear signs that your plants are not getting enough water, however over watering your vegetable garden can also be a concern. A sign of over watering are rotting plants. Along with moisture in the soil plants need good air circulation. Air circulation is needed for the plant to have access to oxygen and to release carbon dioxide. If the soil is saturated then the water is filling up all the space in the soil leaving no room for air circulation. If the air supply is cut off for any length of time the plant roots will rot killing the plant.

Take the time to walk through your veggie garden at different times of the day to make sure your plants appear strong, have a bright color, and look healthy. If you have young transplants they need to be given a drink of water everyday and if the weather is very hot water twice a day as their roots are very shallow and the top few inches of your soil can dry out very quickly. Once your vegetable plants have begun to mature, watering them once a week is usually sufficient. Vegetable plants need on average 1 inch of water each week, double this if you live in a hot climate or have sandy soil that drains quickly. After watering, the soil should be moist at least 6 inches deep.

For some plants it is best to stop watering them altogether once they have matured for example onions and potatoes need less water as they get close to maturity.

If you have to ration water because of drought conditions it is important to know which plants have the deepest roots, making them more tolerant to drought conditions. Vegetable plant roots grow to different depths but most do not grow below two and a half feet. Beets, asparagus, tomatoes, and brassicas can do with a bit less water as they have the deepest roots. Never stop watering celery, lettuce, cucumber, squash, and peppers plants as they have shallow roots systems and are more sensitive to drought conditions.

The bottom line is gardeners need to know their own soil conditions. When it comes to watering your veggies, regularly check the moisture in your garden bed by digging into the soil with your hands or a small shovel to see how far down the moisture is then water as needed.

For more information on watering techniques

June to do list
  • Harvest lettuce, spinach, radishes that were planted early in April.
  • Continue to successive sow lettuce, spinach, carrots, and radishes.
  • Start winter crops of brassicas in seedling trays.
  • Sow more corn, beans, cucumber and squash towards.
  • Plant out tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash if they are not planted yet.

Veggie Recipe

Garlicky Snow Peas Sauté

  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (up to 3); finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 large sweet pepper (Red, yellow or green); diced or chopped
  • 1 lb fresh snow peas, trimmed
  • 1/2 c Jicama or water chestnuts; cubed
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce
In a wok or deep skillet, heat oil. Add garlic, scallions and sweet pepper and sauté until softened and fragrant, about one minute. Add snow peas and jicama; sauté until cooked but still very tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Add soy sauce and toss together. Taste for seasoning, adding more soy sauce if desired. Yield: 4 servings

All Organic Market Farm Basic Stir-fry

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger root v2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • Assorted vegetables, chopped to desired size
First, stir together the cornstarch, soy sauce and vegetable broth in a small bowl. Set aside. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 15 to 20 seconds. Do not allow the garlic to burn. Now put in the cornstarch mixture, and then start tossing in the chopped vegetables, stirring occasionally. Cook vegetables until they start to soften.

Cooked beef, chicken, pork, tofu or nuts may be added to the above.

Living in a tropical or warm climate?

What to grow now
How to grow common veggies

Your vegetable gardening helper

Garden photos


Catherine's bio


Why is Soil so Important is a great new book giving simple and easy instructions on making and keeping your garden soil healthy.

Other vegetable gardening books written by Catherine Abbott, Your Vegetable Gardening Helper.

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Happy gardening!


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