When it comes to starting a garden and caring for it, there are a few basic ingredients that come to mind. First is the plant itself. This is followed by the soil you will put put your plant in, and then lastly, the water.
Watering may prove to be the most challenging part despite how obvious it may seem. Some plants may die if you water them on a daily basis. Others may wither if you forget to pay attention for half the day. And then there are a few others that make it much more difficult to predict when they would get thirsty.
Thankfully, when it comes to vegetables and fruit, there are a few simple guidelines to follow.
Do keep in mind that for specific cultivars of a certain plant, the watering specifications may vary. Treat plants the same way you do pets or babies. This means that you will have to research well on the specific care instructions. Show a little extra love for your garden, and it will always love you back!
In general, here are a few quick tips on how to determine watering needs.
Water-Storing Plants (Every 2 Weeks)
Remember the old cartoons where thirsty travelers would attempt to drink straight out of a singular cactus stuck outside the desert?
Just like cacti, many plants don’t need constant watering to survive. Their fleshy leaves and fruit can be sustainable in holding enough water. If not that, their roots can dig deep enough to reach deeply into the earth and drink straight from the source.
Though these fruits won’t survive in the Sahara, they will still have a comparatively longer staying power than most of the others in your garden.
Water the following plants only once every 10 Days to 2 Weeks:
- Gourds and Melons like Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and certain varieties of Squash like Hubbard, Butternut, and Banana Squash
- Big trees with fat, round fruit like Apples, Nectarines, Peaches, and Pears
- Other round, water-storing fruit like Tomatoes, Cherries, Plums, and Grapes
- Fleshy-stemmed greens, most notably, Asparagus
For fleshier greens, just like Asparagus, constant watering may actually result in rotting. The inside of an asparagus is filled with tissue that allows it to absorb water from the roots and transport it to the shoots. However, the enzymes on the filmy exterior of the plant may dissolve in too much water. This will leave the rest of the plant flesh susceptible to decay.
Slightly Thirstier Things (Once a Week)
There are some plants with slightly fleshy bodies but are incapable of storing enough water to sustain the rest of the plant system.
Though gourds, melons, and squashes were listed above for the smallest watering frequency, those were bigger gourds. Gourds with hollow insides or those that produce more seeds will typically need more drinking time.
Consider watering these plants at least once a week:
- Smaller gourds, melons, squashes, and similarly sized fleshy produce like Zucchini, Cucumber, Pumpkin, Eggplant, and Summer Squash
- Underground crops and legumes like Peanuts, Yams, and Onions
- Tall, leafy crops like Corn and most varieties of Peppers
Water, Water Everywhere (Twice a Week)
By now you can see the trend: thicker plants can store more water and need to take a drink less often. Meanwhile, less fleshy plants will need to replenish their water supply on a more regular basis.
When it comes to the more typical vegetable garden fare, like salad leaves and collard greens, they’re far more susceptible to wilting. Since majority of its body is leaf instead of flesh, majority of the plant system’s function focuses on its photosynthetic process. And remember, in photosynthesis, plants expel water as one of the by-products.
There is barely any part of its body where it keeps water for long-term storage. It constantly just keeps receiving water from the soil as needed. If your leafy friends run out of water to drink, the effects of the wilting are almost immediately visible.
This is mainly why most garden greens are planted on raised beds. They need to be able to suck more water from the soil, and far more often. Their roots need to hold deeper as well, so they can continue to grow downward a bit further to search for sources of water and nutrition.
Given this guideline, consider watering the following plants at least two times every week:
- Leafy greens like Lettuce, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Cauliflower, and Broccoli
- Firm-fleshed ground crops with leafy tops, like Carrots, Radishes, and Turnips
- Small-bushed berries like Strawberries, Raspberries, and Blackberries
- Small podded greens like most varieties of peas
More Fickle Schedules (It Depends!)
Beyond the plants mentioned above, there are the plants that need extra special attention. Most herbs have their own watering schedules. They may not follow general guidelines.
One of the best examples for this is the Mint plant in all of its variants. Though a truly hardy plant that will survive tougher times, the Mint has a variable drinking schedule. The soil must be kept moist enough at all times. It should never be dry, but Mint also has a tough time surviving through a bit of drowning because its roots are too thin.
As for basil, especially for Lemon Basil and Sweet Basil variants, it can survive hot sun and warm weather, despite being a large leafy plant. Although when left unchecked, the signs of wilting may show immediately.
Timing is Crucial
When you water and how often you do it may be the make-or-break moments of your gardening experience. You might be able to procure the correct soil type with the perfect pH balance, and you might be able to place them in a spot with the right amount of sun. However, by simply allowing leafy greens to dry or smaller roots to drown and rot, you might risk throwing away all your efforts.
So keep these guidelines in mind. Remember that fleshier friends can store more water on their own in comparison to leafier greens. Keep in mind as well that not all plants of the same family will share a watering schedule. A perfect example would be your gourds and melons.
Most importantly, always research your on the care specifications of a specific plant and how they may interact with the weather in your area.
Keep a watering schedule and soon your frequent spritzing may just transform into delicious sprouting.