Watering is extremely important in dealing with the Kansas heat when you're growing a vegetable garden. There are several methods that work best. And, it's important to make sure that your garden gets at least 1-½ inches of water or more per week.

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Watering Your Garden - Tips for Success

One of the easiest ways, especially if you’re just getting started with your garden, is to water by hand. You’ll want to make sure that you can get close to your plants, and get the water down near the base of the plants where the roots are. What you’ll need to avoid is spraying your water over the top of the plants. You won’t get as much water to the soil this way, and you may not be watering thoroughly. And, you’ll also be getting the leaves of the plants wet, which can cause disease problems – especially in the heat of summer.

Another option would be to use some sort of sprinkler that you could move around your garden to water different areas.

Drip irrigation is easier than hand watering because you can turn the system on, and then go off and do something else for a couple of hours while the system waters your plants. Another benefit is that with the drip line, the water gets to the roots on the plants, and you won’t waste water by spraying parts of the plants that don’t need water, or parts of your garden that don’t have any plants in them currently.

It does this by delivering water through small emitters on the underneath side of the drip line that will slowly put water in the soil, and allow it to soak in without wasting it. After your system has been running an hour or two hours, dig down in the soil and see if it’s moist for at least six to eight inches deep. If it’s moist, then you have enough water. If it’s not, then you’ll need to let your system go for a little longer.

Generally we recommend that a vegetable garden should get about an inch to an inch and a half of water every week. When it’s extremely hot in the middle of the summer, it will probably need a little bit more – especially for big plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons. A rain gauge is an important tool to have in your garden so that you’ll know if you’ve had enough rain during the week – and then you won’t need to water.

This feature story prepared with Rebecca McMahon, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Sedgwick County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.

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