Watering

A drip irrigation system
A drip irrigation system makes it possible to water a large garden all at the same time. It also allows you to harvest,cultivate, spray, and do other garden chores while watering. The major disadvantage of a drip system is the initial cost.

Vegetable gardens usually need about 1 inch of water (630 gallons per 1,000 square feet) per week in the form of rain or irrigation during the growing season. Gardens in sandy soil may need as much as 2 inches of water per week in midsummer. Where a water source is located close to the garden, there are few excuses (a local ban on watering during a shortage) for letting the garden suffer in dry weather.

Mulches that slow soil surface evaporation can reduce the amount of water needed. Soaker hoses and drip or trickle irrigation systems wet only the soil in the root zone and can cut in half the amount of water used.

Adequate soil moisture is important for seed germination, uniform growth, and productivity. The most critical periods for adequate moisture are during seed germination, early growth, flower and fruit development, and root enlargement of root crops, and immediately following transplanting.

Where a water source is not close to the garden, it is possible to water some plants with a little work. Partially bury 1-gallon plastic milk jugs between tomato, pepper, eggplant, squash, and other widely spaced plants. Punch a few small holes near the bottoms of the jugs before placing them in the soil. Fill the jugs periodically with water hauled to the garden. The water will slowly seep into the soil, providing moisture to the root zone. Periodically place 1 to 2 tablespoons of fertilizer in the jugs to stimulate plant growth.

Sprinklers

There are several choices of garden sprinklers, ranging from the simple garden hose with a spray nozzle to semi-automatic equipment. Many portable lawn sprinklers are adequate for the garden. Adjust the rate of water application so that it is not faster than it can enter the soil. Water applied too rapidly runs off, resulting in erosion or puddles, and causing soil compaction.

Place the sprinkler so plants do not interfere with the pattern of application. This often means mounting the sprinkler above the tops of the plants where wind may affect the distribution pattern. Small cans placed throughout the garden can be used to measure the amount of water applied and show the overlap necessary to approach an even application of water.

Since overhead sprinklers wet plant leaves, water early enough in the day to allow time for leaves to dry before night. This helps keep leaf diseases from developing and spreading. Each watering should wet the top 3 to 5 inches of soil. Frequent light waterings result in shallow rooting, susceptibility to damage by drought, and plants that are easily blown over.

Drip and Trickle

Soaker or perforated plastic hoses are excellent for watering the garden. Place the hose with holes up along one side of the plants or underneath an organic or plastic mulch.

A number of different drip and trickle irrigation systems are available online and through mail-order catalogs, magazine ads, and local distributors. These systems usually consist of a supply line that connects to a garden hose and delivery tubes that are placed next to the plants. A 150-mesh filter is recommended to prevent clogging small pores and emitters. The systems operate at low pressure and deliver small amounts of water very slowly through pores in the delivery tubes or emitters punched into the delivery tubes.

An irrigation system makes it possible to water a large garden all at the same time. You also are able to harvest, cultivate, spray, and do other garden chores while watering. The largest disadvantage of a drip system is the initial cost.

Advantages include these:

  • Reduces water use by one-half or more.
  • Water is placed where it is needed: at the base of plants and not in walkways.
  • Permits working in the garden while watering.
  • Keeps plant leaves dry.

Correct use of a drip irrigation system should keep vegetable plants actively growing in dry periods yet cause no problem when rain occurs following irrigation. The system, when properly operated, keeps soil at the base of the plant (root zone area) moist. This may require operating the system for short periods three or four times a week during dry weather. Never allow the soil to dry completely. Drip irrigation, when used correctly, prevents drought stress but is not designed to correct drought stress like sprinkler irrigation, which wets all the soil.

Single drip lines will not adequately water wide-row or raised-bed gardens, but several spray heads are available that do a good job in these special types of gardens when fitted to the drip irrigation delivery tube.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Publications

News

Rows of mums fill a flower bed.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Cut Flowers and Houseplants, Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens September 13, 2021

The 2021 Fall Flower & Garden Fest will return to an in-person event but will be modified because of the persistently high number of COVID-19 cases. The fest will be held 9 a.m. to noon daily Oct. 4-8 at the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.

Purple, pink, and orange mums.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Landscape Architecture, Vegetable Gardens August 27, 2021

With the fall season slowly creeping in, there are many things to look forward to, including the drop in temperature. I enjoy watching the leaves change color and drop, too. That also means now is a great time to pull out your rakes, garbage bags, and compost bins and prepare to remove the leaves in your yard! Here are a few other things for you to accomplish in your garden and landscape during the month of September. 

People stand in a garden.
Filed Under: Agriculture, Community, Food and Health, Food, Vegetable Gardens August 13, 2021

When members of the Jackson chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority brainstormed ways to serve their community, they decided to start a gardening project. Their plan was twofold: grow fresh produce for members of the community who could not get to the grocery store on a regular basis; and get community members involved and teach them how to grow produce. But they soon discovered they were going to need some guidance.

Orange flowers.
Filed Under: Master Gardener, Lawn and Garden, Landscape Architecture, Vegetable Gardens July 30, 2021

After a relatively mild summer, heat and humidity have arrived in full force in Mississippi. Going outside during the afternoon is miserable these days! If you’re like me, I try to get all my outdoor activities wrapped up in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat. Be sure you can recognize the signs of heat-related illness, and remember to drink plenty of water anytime you’re outside! Hydration is important!

Pink rose bush.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Landscape Architecture, Vegetable Gardens June 25, 2021

It’s been an overall mild and rainy summer so far. If you’re like me, there no complaints with the mild weather. Mississippi is notorious for hot, humid summers so I’ll take slightly cooler temps any day of the week! July is a busy month in your yard and garden. Here are a few things to accomplish this month:

Watch

Replanting a Salad Table
Southern Gardening

Replanting a Salad Table

Sunday, July 19, 2020 - 5:00am
Growing Pickles
Southern Gardening

Growing Pickles

Sunday, July 12, 2020 - 5:00am
Bachman's Heritage Cottage
Southern Gardening

Bachman's Heritage Cottage

Monday, November 25, 2019 - 7:00am
Hot Ornamental Peppers
Southern Gardening

Hot Ornamental Peppers

Sunday, September 8, 2019 - 7:30am
Planting a Salad Table
Southern Gardening

Planting a Salad Table

Sunday, August 4, 2019 - 4:45pm

Listen

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - 7:00am
Friday, September 20, 2019 - 7:00am
Monday, December 17, 2018 - 7:00am
Friday, October 26, 2018 - 2:00am

Contact Your County Office

Upcoming Events