It's always a bit of a joke in France that Normandy is the wettest department with many post cards having a bit of a dig at this. Well we certainly do have rain and sometime LOTS of it ... but right now we have having a prolonged dry spell after a not especially wet winter. As a result I am spending a lot of time watering the garden to keep the plants growing.
If you find you are spending too long each day watering then read on with the following tips you can implement to reduce the amount of watering you need to do, even in hot weather.
15 watering tips for healthy plants
Helping your soil retain water:
- Before you even think about planting you need to make sure your soil is in good form. Adding plenty of organic matter such as compost or well rotted manure will help the soil retain water. This is especially important if you have light sandy soil.
- To keep as much moisture in the soils as possible you can mulch around plants - good materials include woodchip, cocoa husks, damp newspaper and weed suppressing fabric.
When to water
- To reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation, water in the early morning or late evening. For areas where slugs and snails are a problem the morning is better than the evening.
- If you are planning to sow seeds or transplant new plants then water the base of the seed drill and the hole for the plant very well before you sow/plant.
- If a hot dry spell is forecast water your plants well in the days before hand, ensuring the water soaks down deeply. Strong plants with deep roots are better able to withstand a hot, dry spell than their weaker counterparts.
How often to water
- It is better to water a lot every few days than every day and this allows the water to soak down deeply and encourage deeper root systems on your plants. There are a few exceptions to this including seedlings, newly transplanted plants, those with very shallow root systems and plants in pots.
Prioritise your watering
- If you are pushed for time then water those plants that really need it and for the others you can catch up later. Plants that should be watered first include seedlings, newly transplanted plants (especially if they are bare rooted, not in a pot), anything in pots, anything that is wilting badly and any very drought intolerant plants.
- Check how wet soil is after rain, especially night rain - it may look wet but there may have only been enough to wet the surface which does not reach down to the roots.
Not wasting water
- If you find when you water most of it flows away it is likely the soil around your plant is compacted into a surface pan. Gently break this up and water should flow down into the soil. However you can leave the pan between plants as this will help retain any moisture already on the soil.
- Another way to help water stay near the plant and not flow away is to plant in a slight hollow or build a small bund of solid around the plant to act like a damn.
- Do not use a sprinkler as this wastes a lot of water - use a hose and water right at the base of the plants. However do use a rose/sprinkler attachment at the end of a hose to water small delicate plants and seedlings to prevent damage that can occur with a blast of water from a hose or watering can.
|Plants watered right where the need it most|
Nifty watering hacks
- Move pots into shady spots in the hottest part of the day
- Mark rambling plants like pumpkins with a long stick so you know where to water - you'll be surprised how quickly you lose where the roots are once the plants take off and you could be watering well away from where the water is needed.
- Sink plastic bottles with holes in the bottom near plants such as tomatoes to allow deep roots to form - you can find further details of this trick on this tomato blog I wrote.
- Use a long handled hose attachment or fix your hose attachment to the end of a broom handle so you can easily water right at the base of plants where the water is needed.
Whilst I have been busy watering the vegetable garden every day, there is one little plant that I have that can go days without water - it's a small succulent in my very shallow piggy pot. I bought it at a boot fair having no idea what it would do and I love it's bright yellow and orange flowers ... and it survives very well even when I forget to water it for several days! However I have not been able to find out what it is. I thought perhaps a sempervivum but perhaps some-one more knowledgeable can tell me.
Finally, whilst watering a few days ago using the watering can with the rose on the end I wondered how on earth this sprinkler attachment could come to be called a rose. It certainly bears no resemblance to the flower of the same name. Then is a moment of inspiration I think the answer came to me. The French word for "to water" is arroser and there, hidden in within the word is our rose! So nothing to do with flowers but a word derived from French. In France, however a watering can rose is called a pomme d'arrosoir - an watering can apple? Work that one out!