The Q&A Archives: Watering

Question: My friend and I have started a garden with seeds and Plants. He insists that if he uses an overhead sprinkler system it will not harm the plants as they grow. I see signs of to much water especially on the tomato leaves, (curling). I have small mounds around the plants and have dug furrows to water from the side. This water issue is becoming a big bone of contention. Is there "one" sure method of watering, "how much, how often"? Should the plants be allowed to dry out between watering. I have some tomato plants in a different area and I water once a week with Miracle Grow and use a deep water concept. These plants are 5 1/2 feet tall, starting to produce and looking very healthy. My friend says, "a friend", told him that you must water tomato plants every day. Every one has a different perspective, can you help a part time gardener? Thank you, Bob Radcliffe

Answer: The frequency of watering and the amount you apply will depend upon your climate and soil type. A general rule of thumb is to water deeply, on a regular basis during the growing season. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy wet. Most ornamental landscape plants, lawns and vegetables can get by with one-inch of water per week, applied slowly so moisture penetrates the entire root mass. Clay soils tend to hold water for long periods of time where sandy soils drain rapidly. You may have to water every day during very hot weather, or only once or twice a week if the weather is mild, depending on how quickly the soil dries out. The ultimate goal is to keep the soil moist but not saturated (roots need oxygen as well as moisture to keep them healthy). A concern with overhead watering is that wet leaves can develop fungal diseases. If you do water with a sprinkler rather than apply water directly to the soil, be sure to run the sprinklers early in the day so leaves have a chance to dry out before nightfall. Hope you harvest a bountiful crop!

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