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Water! Water! Water!

Oh what to do when the temperature is above 80 degrees day after day?!! Watering your vegetable garden properly and efficiently during hot weather is crucial to ensure the health and productivity of your plants. Here are some tips to help you water your garden properly:

Watering thirsty tomatoes
Watering Cherry Tomatoes

When to Water?

The best time to water plants is early in the morning when it's still cool or later in the afternoon when the sun is not so intense. Morning watering allows the water to run down into the soil to reach the roots without too much loss to evaporation and it helps the plants absorb the moisture which they will need throughout the day giving them the ability to deal better with the heat of the sun.

How much Water?

Vegetable gardens require an average of 1-6 inches of water per week depending on what each plant needs. A general guideline, I use, is one inch of water per week when the temperature does not go above 60 degrees. For every 10 degrees above 60, I add an additional 1/2 inch of water. The higher the heat the faster the water evaporation.

How to Water?

It is better to do deep watering less often than to shallow water every day.

  • Shallow Watering: Watering a plant for 30 seconds or less would be an example of shallow watering! This type of watering can lead to shallow roots and make the plants more susceptible to heat stress.

  • Deep Watering: A deep or thorough watering promotes a lush and vibrant growing plant because the roots are established and have extended deeply into the soil.

  • Avoid Overhead Watering: Avoid watering your garden from above during hot weather, as this can lead to water loss through evaporation and may also increase the risk of foliar diseases. Watering at the base of the plants is more effective.

Options to Help Retain Water

Mulch: Organic mulch (straw or wood chips) around plants will help keep soil retain moisture, reduce water evaporation, keep the plant roots cooler, and regulate the soil temperature.

Shade Cloth: If you have heat-sensitive or delicate plants, temporarily using a lightweight shade cloth or row covers will help reduce the intensity of the sun which in turn will reduce the stress on your plants.


Signs of Heat Stress

Understanding how to water effectively during the hot growing season and recognizing the signs of heat stress are closely linked, working together to ensure the well-being and vibrancy of your plants. Here are some signs:

Different signs of heat stress.
Heat Stress Examples
  • Wilting: Wilting happens because the plant is losing water through transpiration faster than it can absorb water. Wilting can be identified by leaves and stems sagging or drooping and the plant appears limp even after you’ve watered it.

  • Leaf Curling: When plant leaves are exposed to direct sunlight, their leaves may curl or roll to reduce the surface area to help minimize water loss through transpiration.

  • Leaf Browning or Yellowing: The edges of leaves may turn brown or yellow due to the heat causing dehydration and cell damage. It can also result from lack of water and nutrient uptake.

  • Stunted Growth: Plants can become smaller than expected or slowing down in their growth and development due to the high temperatures.

  • Fruit Drop: Heat stress can lead to the premature dropping of flowers or developing fruits, reducing your plant's potential yield.

  • Increased Pest and Disease Susceptibility: Heat-stressed plants are more vulnerable to pests and diseases, as their weakened state makes them less able to fend off attacks.


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Learn more ways to check on those plants during the summer season...

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