Efficient watering in the summer months

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Caring for a produce garden during Yolo County’s hot, dry summers can create a conflict between saving on the grocery budget and cutting back on the water bill. Water the garden too little, and the garden wilts away after a week of triple digit temperatures. Water too much, and that utility creeps up.  In general, installing a drip irrigation system and mulching the soil can help decrease the use of excess water. Many plants also have specific watering needs, and sticking to them can improve the plant’s growth and production while decreasing its risk for diseases and death. Here are some of the watering tips for some of the region’s most common garden crops: Water tomatoes in the morning. This way, they will have moisture to keep them cool and hydrated during the heat of the day. Place some large, flat rocks near the base of your tomato plant. This will help prevent some of the moisture loss through evaporation through the day.  Squash need a lot of watering, especially once they start fruiting. Most plants are happy with two inches of moist soil. Squash require four. Water squash heavily once they begin producing fruit and during the growth phase. Schedule a deep watering once a week. Okra is not a happy neighbor to the squash. These hot climate plants require less frequent watering, and only need about an inch of moist soil. That said, in an arid region like Yolo County, they can benefit from slightly more frequent watering. Make sure that their soil doesn’t completely dry out. Cucumbers, on the other hand, are almost vindictive when it comes to a watering schedule. They need to be watered early and often, and anything less will result in bitter fruit. Avoid watering the plant’s leaves, as this will encourage growth of the diseases to which the plants are prone. Watering plants deeply, but less frequently, is another efficient way to keep plants watered while avoiding over watering. Over watering is a more common cause of plant death than under watering.]]>

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