Updated: Jul 14, 2020
June in Seattle started and ended the same way - with gray rainy skies! We know where the term "June-uary" comes from I guess! Here's to summer kicking into gear in the Northwest like it usually does (on July 5th). The good news is that the gardens are happy and the gardeners are not tired of watering yet!
Keeping your vegetable garden happy in the summer can be a chore. The long stretches of hot dry weather are a challenge and it requires constant monitoring of the soil moisture if you want to ensure that all the hard work you have done up to this point is not lost to drought. Irrigation options can lighten the load and give you more time for harvesting and eating!
Rain barrels: Collect that water from your roof and put it back to use! I have two water barrels that saved me from running my hose throughout the Spring. King County has great resources for installing your own rainwater catchment system to get your started.
Plant Spikes or Olla Systems: There are many ways to use ceramic vessels to support watering. By burying a bowl or spike underground near the roots of a plant you can allow water to slowly leak into the soil via osmosis. A great way to recycle plastic or glass bottles as you tip them into the top of the spike.
Soaker hoses: A soaker hose comes in various lengths and attaches to your regular garden hose or outdoor faucet nozzle. When the water pressure builds up in the hose it forces a trickle of water through a permeable fabric that will put water at the roots of the plants. You can drape them in your garden beds or containers.
Drip irrigation systems: By far the most expensive and the least "do it yourself" option but if you are installing a new large garden, consider putting in an irrigation system as part of the design. Once it is in place you will not have to think about watering again! Timers allow you to run the system when you need it! (weather dependent)
Rules for watering success!
Water early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid evaporation and water waste
Water deeply and infrequently - this allows the plants to develop deep root systems, giving them strength
Go low and slow - a gentle stream from the hose or sprinklers allows the soil to absorb water and prevent run off
Align your watering to the base of the plant and avoid wetting the foliage - this helps prevent rotting and disease
Be sure to monitor containers more frequently than garden beds as they may dry out quicker than the soil
Mulch with organic matter - this helps conserve moisture and prevent weeds to a minimum (mulch will breakdown over time and benefit your soil)
I hope these wise watering tips were useful and that they will see you through the next few months of warm and dry weather! Managing water in the garden is essential and will ensure lots of delicious vegetables to come!