Successful gardening requires plenty of water, but you don’t want to waste it or rack up huge costs. So you need to learn how to save water in the vegetable garden.
You need the water usage in your garden to be as efficient as possible. But with the weather becoming more unpredictable, and with longer dry spells, you may be facing even more challenges.
However, there are simple things you can do that result in using less water to keep your vegetable plot healthy and growing well.
Here are 7 ways to conserve the amount of water you use in your vegetable garden.
1. Collect Rainwater to Use for Watering
One big step you can take right away is to start collecting rainwater to use for watering your vegetable garden. And it’s useful for other outdoor needs like washing the car, bathing the dog, or cleaning the patio.
Several Ways to Collect Rainwater
There are several ways you can go about collecting rainwater, ranging from a barrel and gutter system, a small pond, or just large pots placed strategically near the vegetable plots where you’ll need to use it.
However you go about the process of collecting rainwater, it’s a perfect way to get plenty of water and it won’t cost you anything, except maybe the initial cost of whichever method you use.
2. Slow or Stop Evaporation of Water
The longer the water sits on the surface of the soil, or just runs off, the faster it will evaporate into the air, being of little use to your garden. You need to slow the rate of evaporation by getting the water into the soil as quickly as possible.
Make Soil More Absorbent
One way to gradually make your soil more porous and absorbent is to consistently add organic matter such as compost to it. This creates rich, less compact soil that will absorb the water and keep it where it’s needed.
If you add natural organic mulch over the surface of your soil, too, you’ll also reduce the runoff and slow evaporation even more.
Try Vertical Mulch
You can also add what’s known as vertical mulch. In essence, you create a hole in the vegetable bed and fill it with loose organic matter such as flower stalks and small twigs. The water runs into the hole and is absorbed better by the soil.
3. Limit or Reduce Plant Transpiration
Transpiration is sort of like plants breathing out moisture from their leaves just like we do when we breathe out air. The heat of the sun and the wind can greatly increase this process. So, you need to use some tricks to slow it down:
- Hang a cloth for a shade over the lower growing plants to protect them from the worst heat.
- Plant hardier tall plants to one side to protect the more delicate plants from the wind.
- Hedges also provide shelter for plants affected by the wind.
- Plant seeds into shallow depressions to protect the new growth.
Everything you do to slow transpiration will mean less loss of moisture by the leaves and less watering. Just remember that sheltering plants can be a good idea, but don’t reduce their exposure to the sun too much or they won’t grow well.
4. Don’t Use the Sprinkler for Watering
While it’s tempting to just turn on the sprinkler and let it water the vegetable garden, it’s not a very efficient idea, and even has the potential to harm the plants.
Sprinklers and Evaporation
You’ll lose a significant amount of the water as it evaporates in the air, which is especially true on windy days. However, a soaker hose that lays along the ground near the plant roots will be much more efficient.
May Add Fungus or Mold
Another reason to avoid using the sprinkler is that it will soak the leaves at the top of the plant, which isn’t where the water needs to go, and it may cause fungus, mold, or blight to form.
5. Only Water Plants When They Need It
Lightly watering the whole garden every day is not going to help your water supply or the garden much. It’s a better idea to soak the plants thoroughly at the root level every few days. It encourages deep roots, which is healthier.
Learn What Plants Need
You may also find that not all plants want or need water at the same time. As you learn about your plants, you’ll become accustomed to when they need water. Do it accordingly and not just randomly over the whole plot in one go.
If you’re unsure of the watering needs of a particular species, search online for a good gardening website or ask at your local gardening center.
6. Use a Watering Can to Save Water
It may sound like a tedious way to water your vegetable garden and isn’t practical for a large plot, but it can be very efficient to water your plants with a watering can.
And, you don’t have to do it for the whole garden. But if, for example, you just need to water a small strawberry plot on a particular day, use the watering can to aim the water just where it’s needed and reduce waste.
7. Water Early in the Day, Not the Evening
You may have already heard that it’s more efficient to water your garden early in the day before the heat builds or later in the evening when the heat has subsided.
Watering your vegetables and other plants early in the morning is a good idea because it allows time for the water to soak into the ground before the heat causes it to evaporate. You’ll get the maximum use of the water.
However, if you soak your gardens and plants later in the day and it sits for too long, you may add to the odds of blight, fungus, or mold forming.
If it’s possible opt for watering earlier in the day and only do it later in the evening if you don’t have a choice about the timing.
Use these 7 tips to save water in the vegetable garden for an eco-friendlier lifestyle that includes growing your own food.