The Q&A Archives: Watering

Question: How often should you water a vegetable garden? I live in Southern Lousiana and my soil tends to get very dry and hard throughout the day. I heard that it's best to water in the mornings to prevent foliage on the leaves, is this true? Also, should I be worried if my soil gets hard? What can I do to keep it somewhat loose?

Answer: You can add organic material (compost, aged manure, etc.) to the soil prior to planting to help it drain well and help loosen it. And, after planting, you can spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch over the bare soil to help slow evaporation and keep the soil surface from becoming rock hard.

So much depends on climate and the ability of different soil types to hold moisture that it's difficult to give specific directions for watering your garden. Generally, however, vegetable plants need about an inch of water a week. The best time to water your garden is in the morning. If you water at night when the day is cooling off, the water is likely to stay on the foliage, increasing the danger of disease. Some people believe that you shouldn't water in the morning because water spots on leaves will cause leaf-burn when the sun gets hot; this isn't the case.

When watering your vegetable garden, there is one rule you should follow: Always soak the soil thoroughly. A light sprinkling can often do more harm than no water at all: It stimulates the roots to come to the surface, where they are killed by exposure to the sun.

Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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