Need help with watering basics, please!

maxlife92April 17, 2012

I have just fenced up my very first garden whih consists of three 10ftx4ftx1ft beds. I am doing it organically with a soil,compost,and worm castings. I plan to do one bed with kabocha squash seeds,and the other two with starter plants such as tomatoes,cucumbers,etc. the plot is under a tree but will be getting quite a bit of sunlight.

My question is how do I go about watering the squahsh seeds after i plant them to tonight?the starter plants? All I have is a hose, and I do have a sprinkler attachment thong(shld I use that vs hand holding the hose?) and how long do i water it for (daily?) I've read 1in per week but how do you know?

Lots of questions,but I'm a beginner and I don't wanna screw up!

Thanks soooo much!

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daninthedirt(Cent TX; USDA z8a, HZ10, Sunset z30)

Well, the basic rule of watering is, if the mature plant looks a bit wilted, or slightly peaked, and the soil hasn't gotten water for a while, and the surface is completely dry, then water. Where to water? That's simple. Where the roots are. For seeds or little seedlings, the roots are at the seed or under the stem. Just put your hose there and GENTLY put water on for a few minutes. Straight down the stem. Over the seed. I'm assuming you didn't plant the seeds in bone dry soil.

For larger plants, the roots are likely pretty much under the drip line, which is the extent to which the foliage reaches out, projected onto the ground. You can water with a small sprinkler, or a hose with a sprayer. Don't worry about getting the foliage wet. Let the top layer dry out before you water again. You can stick your finger an inch into the soil and see if it's moist there. If it is, you can wait on the water if everyone looks happy. For seeds, keep the surface a bit damp until they're well sprouted.

For strong, mature vegetables the roots will be 6-12 inches deep. For seedlings, just 1-2 inches.

How long to water? Well, if you're sprinkling, put a small can under the spray, and let it fill to a half inch or so. Don't make puddles.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 9:33PM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

The easiest way I've found is to put a soaker hose (or two) on top of the soil in each bed, snaking it in and around each plant (or section of plants in the case of the squash) so that each plant/section is pretty much sandwiched between two lengths of hose. Then stake the hose so that it stays where you want it, or put paving bricks in strategic places so that it stays where you want it. Hook the hose up to the soaker hose (the big box home supply stores have quick release male and female attachments that you attach to each end of the connection, to make this easier) and turn the water on about a quarter turn. You want the water to be seeping out steadily but not spraying. Make a mental note of how far you had to turn the knob to get to that point, it's where you'll turn the knob in the future. Cover the entire bed in a good layer of mulch. Water the beds long enough to get the water as deep as you need, see Dani's post above. It'll take trial and error for a little bit. I typically let it run for 30 minutes to an hour. I've also been known to forget to turn the water off until I can see it seeping out from beneath the walls of the bed. Setting a timer might help! I tried a timer for the water faucet but couldn't get it to work. The idea is to water enough to encourage good root development and give the plants sufficient water, while not over-watering and wasting the water. It really is a trial and error process to figure out the length of time.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 10:00PM
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Hi Maxlife,

Where in TX do you live? How big are these tomato plants? It's getting pretty late to plant things like tomatoes in most of the state. They need to set fruit before it starts being too hot both during the day and at night so you might want to get them in ground ASAP.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 6:07PM
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