While watering plants may seem basic enough as a task in spring, summer and autumn months, it’s often the case that people mean well but don’t know they’re watering incorrectly.
As the farm femme behind B & H Organic Produce in Caernarvon Township, Erica Lavdanski does her best to educate her customers and anyone she meets about watering smarts in warmer seasons.
And that often means those who are adding plants not only to planters but also in the ground.
“I highly recommend drip irrigation or soaker hoses. They are extremely easy to set up and extremely easy to use. You can even put them on a timer. They put the water where it needs to go. Plants do not ever ever ever need water on their leaves. They need the water at their roots. Soaker hoses will allow you to water for longer periods of time, which encourages the roots of your plants to grow deeper. This allows them access to nutrients, which are deeper in the ground,” she says.
“Water a little bit but more often. Consistent watering is essential. Each plant needs 1 inch of water per week. But not all at the same time. Heavy watering at one time is very ineffective. If you water a plant that is extremely dry, most of the water runs off the soil. It does not soak in. Keeping the soil a little bit moist at all times will lead to more effective watering,” she says. “Heavy watering once a week will wash out your nutrients in the soil when the water is running off.”
Lavdanski points out that how often watering is needed also depends on rain.
“If you have had 1 inch of rain in a week, you may not need to water,” she says. “Keep checking your soil, and do not let it dry out completely.”
Lavdanski has learned in time that a lot of people water incorrectly but just don’t equate problems or stress on the plants to this factor since they aren’t aware of the larger picture, so it’s understandable that more information on the subject is helpful.
“I hear so often that people plant their gardens in May, and they look great, and then they go on vacation in July, and they come home and everything is dead,” she says. “Have someone water your garden when you are away.”
An online monthly magazine called Weekend Gardener has guidelines for how to water plants properly, as does growveg.com, which is based in the U.K. but still has useful tips that can often be applied in our region.
And if you are wondering about whether certain plants need a specific type of watering procedure, aside from more broad and all-encompassing advice, remember that the best person to ask about proper approaches is probably the farmer who grew your plant children from the start—or any local farmer who raises plant crops.