At long last – it is starting to warm up outside! But before you break out your swimming costume and get started on that base tan, let’s talk about your garden. Because just like the sun's rays, the watering needs of your vegetables and other green friends also increase as the weather gets warmer. Here we’ve created a one-stop shop for you to learn how best to provide your thirsty friends with cool water for a hot summer day. And whether they reside on your balcony or in your outdoor garden, your plant-babies will love you for it.
Here's what's ahead:
So get ready for long queues at ice cream stands and beaches packed to the centimetre with towels and blankets. Summer is finally here.
However, as the temperature rises, we are not the only ones who need to cool off. Some types of vegetables have only got one thing on their minds: water. And if it doesn't rain for a long time, they’ll need your help to stay refreshed. When it comes to watering, there are a few simple rules you should follow.
Before you reach for your watering can, first be sure whether your vegetables are water-guzzlers in the first place. Potatoes, for example, only crave additional moisture while they are forming tubers. Similarly, you only have to water peas when there has been no rain for a long time (of course this only applies to bedding vegetables, not to potted crops). Stick tomatoes, on the other hand, are generally very thirsty fellows, and the zucchini will also take it very personally if you don't water him well enough – the bitter fruit he’ll produce will be his revenge.
In contrast, many herbs can survive a dry period quite well: thyme and sage do not typically need an extra daily portion of water, and oregano can also cope with a dry spell. It is enough to help with pot cultures every few days. However, basil and chives will be glad if you water them more often. Please don't pour it on the leaves, but rather directly onto the soil, to avoid creating a breeding ground for fungi and other diseases.
If you still see some water in the saucers after 20 minutes, pour it away to avoid water-logging, which leads to root rot.
Your garden soil will give you an indication of how often you have to water: Do you have sandy or clay soil?
The former cannot store water because the water will just run through it, whereas the latter is so compressed that it cannot absorb the water at all. In both cases, you have to provide more ideal ground conditions for growing and watering.
Also important: Do your plants grow in pots indoors, or outdoors in the ground? You have to water your pot friends more often, because these plants don’t have as deep a water reservoir for their roots to draw from.
If you have thirsty plants, there are some things you can add to your morning routine every few days that will make them very happy:
It is best to water in the morning, before the temperature reaches its peak and the sun burns the moistened flowers and herbs. If you water in the evening, you are inviting snails to a tasty banquet of greens, as they move more quickly on moist soil (relatively, that is…they are still snails…but still). During the day, water evaporates faster, so vegetables with hairy leaves burn in the sunlight as the incoming rays of the sun hit the water droplets and create the magnifying glass effect. Don’t be the kid with the magnifying glass – ants don’t like it, and neither do plants.
If you have a rain barrel outside, you can take water from it – rainwater "tastes" best to plants because it does not contain as much chalky minerals as our drinking water does.
If you have to use tap water, it is best to let it stand for a few hours. This warms it up, which is better for the plants. This also allows the minerals to settle a little.
It's better to water really aggressively on occasion, as opposed to just a little bit every day. With deeper pots, the water can drip out at the bottom – this way you know that the lower roots are also getting something to drink.
Remember: water your plants, don't shower them. Point the water source directly at the root area. Tomato leaves should never be watered directly, as this can cause late blight. Even basil doesn’t like to get its hair wet.
Have you just planted young plants in a bed or in a larger pot? If so, you may recall that you have to water them constantly, even in rainy weather. The flow of water will flush moist soil to the roots, so that they can gain a foothold and the plants can grow.
Heavy watering promotes root growth. If you only water a little, the plants will develop superficial roots and will not have the strength to grow deeply. But plants need quality roots in order to supply themselves with water from underground when it is very dry.
If you are unsure whether you should water again, stick a finger deep into the soil. Because the surface dries up quickly in summer, testing below the soil's surface will help you determine whether you need to hit your plants with the watering can.
When it finally rains, you can often save yourself a round of watering in the garden. However, appearances can be deceptive, and your plants may still need extra watering. As a rule of thumb, you can remember: 1L water moistens 1 cm of soil on 1 m2. You can easily see how much it actually rained by attaching a small measuring cup to a stick and sticking it in your bed. Erm…your plant’s bed. Unless you’re into that. Either way, be sure to keep track of how much water your plants are getting – they will thank you for it!
With the climate constantly changing, we also have to think about our own water consumption. Here are three more tips on how you don't have to use the precious liquid from the tap as often:
You can protect the soil from evaporation by always spreading a layer of mulch on the soil. It's very easy: you can use dried lawn clippings, leaves or large leaves (e.g. rhubarb leaves) and simply place them on the ground around the plants. If you have sandy soil, mulching is the cure for wasting water.
Chop! Because chopping once saves watering twice. If you gently till the soil surface around your plants, you will destroy the capillaries. Moisture from the soil is transported to the air through these air tubes. If you break this connection, the water will stay stored in the earth longer.
Set up rain barrels – Water falling from the sky is free, and as mentioned above, it is actually better for your plants than our cold, chalky tap water.
Now it's your turn! Tell us about your experiences with watering your plants! What have been some struggles early on in your sowing and gardening time? What were some "watershed moments" (pun not intended, but definitely appreciated) that helped you become a better plant-parent?
Let us know in the comments below!
Wir zeigen dir, wie du dir viel Arbeit im Garten sparen kannst, indem du deine Pflanzen mulchst und welche Materialien dafür in Frage kommen.
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