41 June 23, 2010
As spring comes to an official end and summer begins, the plants in our gardens are growing very well. It has been many years since we have had a spring that has allowed plants to grow the way plants have grown this year.
As the weather warms up with the arrival of summer, it is important to keep up with watering plants. It is also important to water your plants properly. Watering your plants incorrectly can lead to a host of problems. Let me explain how to properly water your plants.
Plants take up water better if they are watered in the morning. By being watered in the morning, plants take up the water in order to allow them to have sufficient water to survive the heat of the day. Almost all of the plant’s growth takes place during the day. All the processes of growth, putting out new leaves and flowers, require water to be successful. If the plant does not have sufficient water available, these processes slow down or stop.
Watering plants in the morning also allows time for the foliage to dry out before the relatively cooler evening and night time hours. If the leaves remain wet overnight, it is very likely that fungus diseases will start on your plants.
How you water is just as important as when you water. Let’s start with vegetable plants. Tomato plants are probably the most popular vegetable being planted in the home garden. Tomato plants have a huge root system. In some cases, the roots can spread out 3 feet around the plants. The roots can also go deep into the soil. If the tomato plant does not get enough water to get to all of those roots, the plants will develop blossom end rot. This disease causes the black patch that appears on the bottom of the tomato This disease is caused by the plant going from dry conditions to wet conditions and then back and forth with changing moisture levels through the season.. When you water a tomato plant, it can take many gallons of water to get water down to all of the roots. You won’t be able to do this by watering the plants with a hose and hose nozzle. Well, yes, I guess you could do that, but you would probably be spending 15 to 30 minutes watering each plant with the hose and nozzle. Think about how long it takes to fill a watering can with a hose that has a nozzle attacked to the hose. Most watering cans hold 2 gallons of water. If you are using a spray setting on the nozzle, it will take forever to fill that watering can. It would be better to take off the nozzle to fill the watering can. Once the watering can is full, give your tomato plant a gallon or two of water. The plants will need more as the season progresses. The easiest way to water will be to set up a sprinkler and let it run for about 30 minutes several times per week. This way, the tomato plants get the water they need. This also allows all of the other plants in the vegetable garden to get the water they need.
Watering plants in containers requires a lot more diligence. You can pour some water into the container and the soil looks wet. But if you could look inside the container, you would find that the soil deeper in the container is dry. By allowing the lower levels to be dry, plant roots won’t develop properly. This in turn allows the top growth of the plant to become damaged. Let’s go back to tomato plants. If a tomato plant is grown in a container, it is important for all of the roots to have sufficient water to prevent blossom end rot. The only way you can be sure that the soil is moist all the way through the container is to add enough water to allow water to drain out the bottom of the container. If the soil is very dry, the soil will pull away from the sides of the container. Water will easily flow along the side and out the bottom. This may make you think you have added enough water, when in reality, you have not given the plant enough water. If the soil is dry, you will have to add some water, wait about 10 minutes and then water again. This will allow the soil to expand and help to get the soil back against the side of the container. Once this has happened, you can water until the water comes out the bottom of the container.
This method of watering container grow plants applies to more than just your tomato plants. Your window boxes and your flowering baskets need to be watered this way too.
Watering is critical for the health of your plants. If Mother Nature is not providing sufficient water, it is up to you to take up the slack. Giving your plants the proper amount of water at the proper time of the day, will allow your plant to grow to the fullest potential. By not watering properly, your plants will suffer and you will be spending extra time combating plant diseases and have a lousy garden that does not supply you with the flowers or vegetables that you want.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.