In the Garden
When to water?
Days when temperatures climb into triple digits followed by evenings with fast-moving thunder storms can leave beginning gardeners unsure about whether or not to add supplemental water to their vegetable gardens.
The general rule of thumb is that plants need about one inch of water a week either from rain or irrigation or a combination of the two.
The amount of water can vary depending on the type of soil in the garden, but the objective is to wet the soil to a depth of 5 or 6 inches and not water again until the top few inches begin to dry out.
“Your garden needs to be watered deeply,”says Henrico Extension Agent Lisa Sanderson. “And that requires some time.
“Some people think sprinkling water with a hose for a few minutes and wetting the surface of the soil will be enough,”she adds,“but deep watering is not something you can do for 10 minutes and be done.”
Taking the time to water plants deeply can make them more resistant to droughts because the plants develop deep roots.
“Watering a little bit every day encourages shallow roots,” says Sanderson, “So plants dry out quicker. And watering every day helps surface seeds, which are usually weeds, to germinate and grow.”
Sanderson cautions that every garden is different, so gardeners need to check their soil to see when to water. Sandy soils may need to be watered more often, while a clay soil can hold moisture longer. Organic matter that you can add by incorporating it at tilling or by top dressing plants with compost can help soil hold moisture.
“You can use a rain gauge to see how much rain water your garden is getting,” says Sanderson. “Or use a soil meter to see how dry the soil is.”
“Fingers are also wonderful things to check soil moisture,”she adds. “Or use a trowel to pull back some soil and check for moisture.”
The best time to water is in the morning when cooler temperatures mean less water will be lost to evaporation. Watering early also allows foliage that gets wet to dry before nightfall.
“It’s better to water at the roots,”says Sanderson. “More water gets to the plant, and you have fewer issues with disease caused by moisture on the leaves.”
If time is an issue, busy gardeners can use soaker hoses that allow water to slowly seep out all along their length. Placed at the base of plants and left on for sufficient time, soaker hoses can provide the deep watering that plants need.
“It’s also a great idea to mulch your plants,”says Sanderson. Mulch conserves moisture in the soil by slowing evaporation and can prevent backsplash on leaves during watering. Plus mulching helps to control weeds that compete for the soil’s moisture.
Sanderson adds that these watering principles also apply to landscape plants.
“Usually, established plants are fine,” she says,“but when you have these hot, hot days, it’s a good idea to keep your eye on your plants to see if you need to water.”
Emily Francis (left) of Richmond Green Drinks and Cary Jamieson of The Steward School checked out the cherry tomato crop Aug. 20 at the school's Bryan Innovation Lab following a visit by members of Green Drinks. Jamieson, director of the Bryan Innovation Lab, was among the speakers who pointed out various sustainable features of the building and its surroundings, including geothermal, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy systems, as well as rain gardens and large storage cisterns (like the one pictured) to minimize groundwater pollution. > Read more.
For the third consecutive year, the Canterbury Recreation Association in Short Pump donated the most meals to the fourth-annual "Dunk Hunger" campaign, which raises money and food donations for FeedMore's Central Virginia Food Bank. Swim teams and community pools throughout the region combined to raise the equivalent of 77,404 meals this year, with the Canterbury group earning the Gold Medal, with 17,454 meals contributed.
CRA will earn a winners’ bash Aug. 24 from 3 to 5 p.m. at its pool on Pump Road.
“Our pool has adopted Dunk Hunger into its culture with fun ways to raise food and funds," said Canterbury’s Dunk Hunger chairman Jack McSorley, a Freeman High School junior. > Read more.
Henrico County has a lot to offer this Labor Day weekend! Before summer ends completely, you’ve got to try some Virginia wines at Southern Season’s weekly event, Fridays Uncorked. Check out The Comedy Dad, Alex Scott, at the Richmond Funny Bone or put your thinking caps on and take on The Escape Room. This weekend also features a two-day event at Malvern Hill and Carrington Kay at The Tin Pan. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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Calendar5th Wall Theatre will present “Uncanny Valley” by Thomas Gibbons at HATTheatre, 1124 Westbriar Dr., Sept. 10 through Oct. 3. Starring award-winning actors Jacqueline Jones and Alexander Sapp, and directed… Full text