How Much Water Is Enough?
On average, most vegetables need around 1-2 inches of water per week. During March and April, cooler temperatures and spring rains will usually provide most of your watering needs, although occasional hand watering may be required for seeds and seedlings. When temperatures rise in May, the irrigation system will be activated. Early on, watering schedules will be daily for 1-2 hours to keep the upper level of the soil moist for seed germination and new transplants. You will be able to adjust the drip system to best suit what you have planted.
Any seeds or seedlings will still need supplemental hand watering while their roots are shallow. As seedlings become established, in June and July, deeper and more infrequent watering provided by the drip system will provide plenty of water and encourage your plants to grow stronger roots. Allowing the soil to dry somewhat before watering again will reduce fungus and plant diseases. In fact, over watering can be as harmful to your plants as under-watering.
Mulch –A Gardener’s Best Friend!
We advocate a No-Bare-Soil policy. Covering your plot with a few inches of mulch, leaf mulch or straw will help your plants grow by conserving moisture, maintaining a cool soil temperature, keeping weeds down, and adding organic material (worm food!). Commonly used organic mulches include leaves, straw, grass clippings, and pine needles (wood chips in garden beds are not advised because they can take time to break down and may bind up the available nitrogen). Avoid heavy mulching when seedlings are small or soil is cool, as this can hinder them. Mulch can also encourage certain pests like slugs, so be on the lookout if your plants show slimy signs of damage.