I had to run out to the garden about noon today to get some radishes for lunch. When I walked out the door in the cool shade of our big maples it was delightful. I was comfortable and shaded all the way to the garden. Once a few feet past the gate, I felt the true warmth of the day since all but a tiny corner of the garden at noon is in full sun. Too hot for me! I was glad I was only pulling a few radishes.
While I was out there I couldn’t resist looking around a bit. The big leaves of Outredgeous Red Lettuce were bent over to the ground and looked “done in” —— as did beet leaves, chard, kale, and late cabbage. Even the peas which are loaded with pods were not liking the heat.
I’ve seen this many times under the same circumstances over 34 years. And no matter how many times I see it — it always make me feel a bit upset even though I absolutely know from experiencing it — that all those leaves will perk up at soon as the sun gets lower and less intense. And – after a night of recovery — their life force will be strong in the AM and I can harvest any of it and know I’m getting the best.
Sympathizing – But Encouraging Resistance
Feeling that “upsetness” made me think of my readers that tell me they are addicted to watering. If I feel upset — what must they feel!
I encourage you to resist the urge to water. It does much more harm than good under these circumstances. The plants have been use to the cool weather and all of a sudden it’s hot. So they’re just giving off more water than what they’re physically able to take in. If there was more water in the soil — they wouldn’t be able to take it in anyway. That’s just the way things work with plants. Some show the signs more than others.
What Too Much Watering Can Do
Watering too much can cause the yellowing and death of seedlings and also plants in the garden. If soil becomes too water logged, roots can’t breath. Soil needs air —- NOT AIR POCKETS — but air throughout the soil. Without air seedlings can yellow and die —- and so can plants.
One of the reasons for preparing soil deeply is so that roots can go down to get water. If you constantly water, they won’t go deep in spite of the soil being properly prepared. And then if any stress comes — they can’t handle it. So they either die or don’t produce fruit in abundance. Sort of a lot like people. If someone has always had everything given to them and hasn’t done without anything —- it’s tough for them to even survive when difficulties come, much less produce an abundance of good fruit.
I’m not set up for watering and never have been. So I don’t water. But if you are and you want to water —- resist the urge to do it all the time.
Here are some guidelines that might help.
- Rain water is the gold standard for water. If you don’t have a means of collecting rain water, and you are using a municipal source of water with all it’s chemicals — rethink watering period! It could be doing much more harm than good by leaching nutrients from the soil and not allowing the plants to take up nutrients that are there.
- If you have a nice rain — don’t water until at least a week after the rain — and only then if you are not expecting more rain.
- Just because plants wilt in the day — it doesn’t mean they need water. If they’re wilted at daybreak the next day — water might help.
- Don’t go by the top of the soil being dry. Push your finger into the soil. If it’s moist 1 1/2 to 2 inches down — don’t water.
- With seedlings, let soil almost dry out before watering again.
- And – as I’m sure you already know — if you choose to water, water into the ground not onto the leaves.
Last but not least, I hope you’re keeping your soil protected and covered with mulch to keep more moisture in.
If you resist constant watering and water ONLY when the plants really need it, I think your overall results will be a better, healthier and more productive garden.
Organic Gardening is easy, effective, efficient and it’s a lot healthier.
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