Garden tips

How to water your garden properly

Summer is on the way here in South Africa and it's the time of the year that your plants take a hammering if they do not get properly watered.

There are many different ideas on watering but if you know what to look for its pretty easy to do correctly.

Squeeze your soil test.

With this quick test you can guage how much water your garden needs.

Pick up a handful of soil and if it crumbles in your hand your soil is too dry.

It needs water fast!

Soil that has the correct amount of moisture in it will form a weak ball with rough surfaces, and the moisture in the ball will not stain your fingers. There might be a few grains of sand that fall away.

Soil that is too wet will form a ball with your finger marks in it. It will also leave a water and soil coating on your hands with little ribbons between your thumb and forefingers.

Soil that is way too wet will form a soft ball in your hands and as you squeeze the ball water will appear on the surface of the ball. Your hands will be wet and there will be soil on your fingers.

No watering required here!

The above is a quick and easy way to find out whether your garden needs watering.

Rules for watering.

Always water your garden in the morning.

Watering in the evening means that your plant is damp and the air is cooling. In these conditions your plants become prone to diseases such as mildew and moulds.

Watering in the morning allows your plants to take up water and be ready to handle the heat or cold of the day, to move nutrients around and have the energy to produce chlorophyll.

Water your plants as deeply as possible but as infrequently as you can. This allows the moisture to sink down into the soil and get to the roots that are 20centimetres deep. If you give your garden a splash and dash every day you train the roots of your plants to grow upwards to look for water and when the day is hot the topsoil dries out and the roots burn eventually killing your plants.

When watering deeply it's not necessary to drown the plants. Any excess water that cannot be held by your soil will drain away and your plants will get no benefit from it. Water wisely.

Certain criteria have a bearing on how much and how frequently you should water. You should take note of the following.

The types of plants in your garden and their root systems

Do the plants have deep extensive root systems which allow you to water infrequently or do they have shallow roots which require watering more often.

Secondly take note of the soil type in your garden. If the soil is a sandy fast draining soil you might need to water more often. It's a good idea to mulch sandy soil which will help it to retain moisture.

The climate in your area also plays a large part in your watering patterns. If you are in a desert or semi desert region you will need to water more often. People in cooler climes where rain falls occasionally don't need to water so often.

That's it, just follow the simple rules and you won't go wrong.

Happy gardening!

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The art of watering your garden

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