Thursday, October 22, 2009

When to Water Your Food Garden

These tips come from Timeless Herb Secrets and they are correct for our climate here in Zimbabwe:

Drying out of the soil (or water loss) begins at the top of the soil and works its way down. Because you cannot see inside the soil, you need to test your soil to see how wet or dry it is. This will tell you whether your plants need water or not.

Before you apply water, test how dry or wet your soil is by doing the 'knuckle test':
Press your finger (up to the first joint) into the soil. If you are checking a seedling tray, scratch the soil in the tray.
If your soil is dry at this level, the plants have used up all the available water, so you need to water.
If your soil is moist (damp) at this level, your plants are getting enough water and you are watering correctly.
If your soil is soggy at this level, your plants are in danger of 'drowning', and depending on weather conditions and other factors, you can miss a watering session or delay it till later in the day.

With experience you will be able to check whether your plants need water or not, just by looking at them and your soil. Whenever you are in doubt, do the knuckle test as described above.
Remember: your plants need to dry out slightly between watering sessions. Just like humans, plants do not like to have feet that are constantly wet.
Make checking the water condition of the soil part of your morning routine. When possible, water plants in the cool of the early morning because less water is lost to evaporation and this will give you the peace of mind that your crops are supplied with this vital nutrient for the day.
In very dry hot spells recheck the watering needs once more during the day. Water at any time of the day when plants show a need for it. Don't wait till the morning.

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