What You Need To Know About Watering Your Garden
What your need to know about watering your garden. With all the work you put into your garden, watering is critical to maintaining it. Most people with personal gardens use tap water. Tap or potable water from a municipality. Odds are you have chlorinated water. If you use tap water for your garden watering, you may not know you are defeating your garden’s biology.
I expect you to be familiar with chlorine in your drinking water and know that chlorine kills bacteria and fungi, and other critters in your water. It is nice to have clean potable water. In the United States, for the most part, we have potable water. People with swimming pools understand that the water will eventually turn green without chlorine. Thus pool owners put in chlorine to solve the greening problem.
What does this mean for gardeners? When you add chemicals to anything, you have the issue of unintended consequences. That same chlorine you drink in a glass, we won’t talk about how chlorine affects our bodies, which is another website, hair, and intestinal tract, is deadly for the good bacteria and fungi in your garden. Thus, when you put chlorine in your garden, it too will kill the green stuff.
How do you save your plants from chlorine? The solution is relatively simple.
- Put the water in the sun for 24 hours.
- Filter the chlorine out of the water
- Use untreated well water.
- Captured rainwater
Any of the above choices will work for you. So now you have a basic understanding of the water you put into your garden.
Nature’s Organic Garden System (NOGS) has some unique watering requirements. Depending upon weather conditions, you will not have to water your garden more than once or twice a week. The straw and, to a lesser extent, the alfalfa retains water longer than soil-based garden beds. The material maintains moisture as the compost, straw, and alfalfa break down, providing plant nutrients. You may water your garden a couple of times during the week.
As with all gardens, you must water more frequently when planting. You must keep the surface damp when starting your garden from seeds. Likewise, it is wise to keep the compost moist when transplanting plants until they are established.
Overwatering your garden will be less likely to happen in the NOG system than in traditional soil-based gardens. This is because in the Dirtless system, the straw and alfalfa can absorb only so much moisture (1 bale of straw can hold up to 270 pounds of water), and the remaining water passes into the ground below.
Overwatered soil-based systems tend to turn into a wet environment for the plants. Root rot is a common experience with soil-based systems.
A garden I set up for a school was being watered twice daily for two hours. They had reseeded a section of their lawn and were watering the grass to get it started. It seems that the sprinkler heads for the garden were also attached to the grass watering system.
I was amazed that root rot or diseases did not develop in those conditions. The excess water was released to the ground below or leaked at the bottom of the raised bed structure. The straw and alfalfa are converted into a food source faster, providing more energy for the plants. The plants grew healthy and rapidly during this period.
The downside was the straw volume was significantly reduced. The bed retains water due to the food conversion. They had to start watering several times a week rather than once a week.
Types of Watering Systems
Hose and Wand
The hose and watering wand system works well. You can target plants that require more water than other plants in your garden. Once your plants become established, you should not water plants from above. As you may have noticed, the leaves develop spots when you water from above. These leaves will generally need to be removed due to chlorine and evaporation as they die off faster than those receiving water near or at ground level.
Once the plants are growing, water them at the base of the plants. The water is not wasted on the leaves but goes directly to the roots. Also, you reduce the chances of leaf diseases.
Drip systems generally work well for plants. The systems work rather well if you create watering zones in various parts of your garden. When you set up your system, consider the size and quantity of plants you have in a particular zone. For example, tomatoes will take more water than beans. Regulating the water pressure and volume of various plant types will help ensure all plants get the needed water. Getting the watering right will take some practice in setting up the system, and it will change for specific plant types throughout the growing season.