Watering regimes examined

Although it is quite possible to garden successfully in many ways without hardly ever doing any watering it is also one of the most productive and effective labours we can undertake if we wish to improve most of our kitchen garden crops. Indeed I suspect many of us do not realise just what good results can be obtained by assiduous watering compared to many other gardening chores we consider equally beneficial.

Water, which water where

In Kitchen Garden Feb 05 I discussed watering and ventilation under cover where we have almost complete control and in May 02 I examined various ways of applying water. Now I'm turning my attention to the quality of the water. In the open ground it is possible to get away with rarely if ever watering anything. I have successfully sown, transplanted and grown many crops in my dry East Anglian soils without any additional water other than our sparse rainfall. Obviously without added water the timing of such operations is crucial and yields suffer.

Water storage

Our watering makes all the difference to most of our crops, and with some much more than others. Such as over-wintered brassicas and early sown carrots may crop well without extra water, even in a drought year, as their roots delve deeper following winter water down as it falls. Well established trees and soft fruits, vines and figs can likewise crop well without extra watering especially if well mulched in humus rich soil. But for the majority of vegetable crops and many of our fruits good attention to watering will very significantly improve the yields.

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