How do I know how much to water my garden? — K.S.
This is a very good question and addresses a dilemma gardeners face all the time. Water usage is important for our plants, and using water wisely is good for all of us. Here are a few tips to help simplify the process.
Each garden is going to have unique qualities that determine how often it needs to be watered.
For example, this time of year, the general recommendation is that tomatoes need between 1 to 2 inches of water per week. But even this recommendation comes with a bit of a disclaimer: The amount will depend on soil type, humidity and temperature.
If you have a nice sandy loam, you will probably need to water at the upper level of this recommendation because sandy soils tend to drain faster. However, if your soil leans more toward the clay end of the spectrum, you probably won’t need to provide the full 2 inches of water each week. But in both cases, we need to factor in humidity and temperature, and there is no easy calculation for that.
So, here is how I approach watering my garden and lawn — I let my plants tell me. I watch them to see when they look a little droopy. Pretty soon, you will learn how much water they need and how often they need it.
Water needs also depend on the age of the plants. Newly planted plants are going to need more water (and more often). For example, I just set out some new tomato plants. If I don’t water them every day at least, I don’t think they would make it. They have not had time to establish a robust root system yet, so daily watering is the only way to keep them alive right now.