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5 Watering Mistakes You're Probably Making

How do you keep this garden well watered and make sure you don't make any

classic watering mistakes.

I've probably done all of them myself in the garden and it's been pretty

heartbreaking sometimes when you lose a plant that you put so much care into.

So today we're going to do five watering mistakes you're probably making.

And if you're not,

hopefully this video will help you avoid them in the future and just get a

deeper understanding of watering in general. So let's go ahead and get cracking.

Mistake number one, the most classic mistake,

watering at the wrong time of day. Now,

before we get into the right time of day, the first question,

and the first answer is the best time to water your plants is when the plants

need water. So if they're struggling,

it doesn't really matter what time of day you water because it's better than not

watering at all. But given that your plants are doing okay,

the question then becomes, okay, well what time of the day is best?

And so the best in order is going to be early morning,

right as the sun's coming up. Then late afternoon, early evening,

and then evening. So in early morning,

let's say you've got this bed of beans here, there's some tomatoes here as well.

Beans are a pretty shallow-rooted plant and so by watering in the early morning,

we're allowing water to actually penetrate the soil, get into the subsoil,

start getting absorbed by those shallow-rooted bean plants.

And then they're going to be nice and turgid or full of water as the day

progresses.

So they're much more resistant to any sort of large swings in temperature,

et cetera.

They're going to lose less water because they have more water and they're not

going to wilt as much. Just,

it's just a much better scenario for those bean plants in general,

and that's going to apply to pretty much every plant in the garden.

So if you can afford it or if you've got your drip system or your soaker system

set up in a way where it's automated,

it's really good to hit the garden early in the morning.

It's kind of also just a nice way to start the day. You've got your coffee,

you've got your little water wand, whatever the case may be,

and you're just hitting the garden in the morning.

Now next best is going to be late afternoon, early evening,

and you can see a trend here.

We're just trying to avoid watering in the heat of the day and that's just

because so much of that water is going to be lost very quickly to evaporation or

if it's windy, it's going to sort of evaporatively cool off the,

the surface of the soil. So just avoid the heat of the day and at the very,

very last resort would be watering in the evening.

The evening is going to be okay because it's not going to evaporate.

You're still going to get that penetration into the soil and the subsoil.

So it's going to be able to get used by the plants' roots,

but at the same time it's not going to evaporate at all.

And also you really have to be careful about watering over the top of your

plants, which brings us to our next mistake.

What is wrong with that picture right there? I almost cringe just doing it.

Mistake number two,

it's not the best idea to water directly over the top of your plants.

Now, this isn't as big of a deal as most people say that it is in the garden,

but we are going to go into a couple of different ways to solve this and why

it's a problem in general. All right,

why is it a bad idea to water over the top of your plants?

That's a powerful spray. By the way guys,

all of the watering products in today's video are going to be from Ray Padula

who are the sponsors. So thanks to them,

they sent out a bunch of cool different things to allow me to demonstrate

different ways of watering and all the links will be in the video description.

So go ahead and check that out.

But it's a bad idea to water over the top of your plants for a couple different

reasons. First of all, it's a somewhat wasteful use of water.

You're going to be just throwing a lot onto the foliage of,

of your leaves and your plants,

and there's only so much they can take through their leaves via the stomata.

They're much more efficient at taking up water through the root system,

so it makes a lot more sense to use a targeted tool or a drip line or a soaker

hose and actually water at the base, at the soil surface.

Now there's other reasons as well, you know.

Plants that are susceptible to disease, tomatoes, things like that.

It's going to be a really good idea to not splash soil all over the place and

having a large spray coming from above can throw little bits of soil,

which is where a lot of these fungal pathogens live. And then voila,

all of a sudden now the plants that were just fine are all of a sudden diseased

and starting to die off. So not a good idea there as well. Honestly,

I will say that this mistake is slightly overblown.

Certainly fall crops are a little bit more tolerant of being watered over the

top of because they're acclimated to be growing in the fall where weather

usually turns a bit. It's a little bit more rainy, you know,

so they're acclimated to deal with that a little bit better I would say than

summer crops. And honestly, even summer crops like these tomatoes here,

these beans, they can handle overhead watering earlier in their life.

When they start to fruit that's really when you want switch to either drip,

soaker, irrigation or hand watering with a water wand like this.

It really allows you to get in there and get targeted. Uh,

but that's mistake number two guys, do not, if you can avoid it,

water over the top of your garden.

Mistake number three is the holy grail of mistakes - is either overwatering or

underwatering your plants.

This is a mistake that you're either going to come on the high side or the low

side of, you know.

Either you're loving your plants to death or you're being a little forgetful or

perhaps not understanding the way that water works its way through the soil or

your container and making a mistake on that side. So first of all,

let's tackle underwatering.

So we've had a couple of days of rain here and it's not the best bed to use to

describe and demonstrate this problem.

But what I'm going to do is show you underwatering,

you can oftentimes think you watered well enough and it actually feels in your

brain, oh, I actually gave these plants a lot of water.

I dumped water all over the bed.

And then you realize actually not much of that water actually permeated down

into that subsoil. So I've got my water wand. This is the Ray Padula comfy grip.

It's got this cool little thumb nozzle toggle.

And so what you'll do is you'll often come through,

you'll hit your garden just like this,

remembering to try to not go over the top of the leaves.

And then once you're done or when you think you're done at least,

and that's sort of part of the problem,

is you'll dig down into the subsoil here and you'll notice,

oh, only about a half inch is, is wet. And so what I like to do,

when it comes to watering a raised bed specifically,

is I do what's called the water, wait, water method. So if you have, um,

potting mixes that are high in peat or somewhat dry to begin with,

maybe they have a lot of forest products in them,

sometimes those are hard to rehydrate and it takes a little bit of time for

water to permeate them for it then to allow water to get even lower.

So what I'll do is I'll come through and I'll water really quickly coating the

surface of the soil,

trying to just get full coverage over the surface of the soil just like that.

And then I'll just move on to another bed, let it permeate a little bit.

And then I come back and I hit it with what I would call the real watering for

that bed.

And I find that that really allows the water to actually get deeper into the

soil. And then your plants are healthier. But for underwatering,

the biggest mistake you're probably making is you're simply not checking after

you water how deep it actually went down. And so once you check,

you actually will get an understanding, okay,

if I water this bed for a couple of minutes,

it ends up getting about three to four inches down and that's actually what I

need. So I would really recommend after you water, dig down and check it out.

Now let's talk about overwatering.

The flip side to the problem we just talked about is watering too much.

And oftentimes this comes when we're talking about container gardening because

as you can see, this little container here,

which is a standard railing planter or thin planter,

doesn't really have a drainage hole. I could drill one in here if I wanted to,

but if it doesn't have a drainage hole and it's made out of a plastic material,

then chances are really good if I water too much,

the water is just going to sit in there and it's never going to get out.

It's certainly not going to evaporate out or be used up by these young flower

seedlings soon enough for me to actually protect the plant.

So signs of overwatering. Very, very obvious signs.

Root rot is probably the most obvious, although that's below the soil.

So sometimes that's hard to tell. If you are a houseplant grower,

you know you've probably overwatered your plants before and had root rot.

I would highly recommend first of all, do that finger test again.

You know, bury your finger down in, get a sense of how wet the soil is, two,

three, even four inches deep before you commit to watering again.

Even look at your weather. You know,

out here in the garden in San Diego at least sometimes it's hard for me to

predict the weather because we almost never get rain.

And then I get blindsided when we actually get rain and I may have just watered

the garden and then there's some overwatering issues going on.

But what you're going to find when you have overwatering is certainly root rot.

There actually counterintuitively can be some wilting.

And then also leaves can start to yellow.

So if you think you're not suffering a nutrient deficiency,

there's no pest or disease issue,

but you're still having plant problems that are similar to the ones I just

described, chances are you might be overwatering. And so again,

I would say it's much more common in these smaller containers if you're a

container gardener to overwater than it is in a raised bed because oftentimes a

raised bed has nice drainage at the bottom.

And even if you just dump a whole lot of water in there, it still will run out.

That's still not good. You're still probably leaching that soil of nutrition,

but it's better than flooding the bed.

And so I say if you're a container gardener, just really,

really watch out for overwatering.

Mistake number four is watering all of your plants the same way regardless of

what they are, regardless of where they are in their life cycle.

And regardless of the method that you're using to grow. So what you see here,

I've got about 16 different leafy green seedlings in my veggie pod,

which actually does have a top irrigation on this cover right here.

But just for the sake of example,

I've put a soaker hose in from Ray Padula just to show you why and how to think

about irrigating and watering crops in different stages of their life.

So a seedling, what does a seedling have? It has a very shallow root system.

It's just starting its life and it is relatively sensitive and it is really not

penetrating too much of that soil.

So let's say we went ahead and put this little system on drip irrigation with

emitters.

Well that might not be the best idea because the way that a drip emitter works

is you've got your drip line like this and then there's emitters every x amount

of distance. But that puts out a plume of water in a specific spot,

which seedlings aren't robust enough to have their roots seek that out.

They need water right where they are.

And so that's why if you're not going to hand water,

another good option could be to use something like a soaker hose because that's

going to emit water throughout the entire length of the hose.

It sort of seeps out or soaks out as the name implies,

and that's going to irrigate much, much better. So seedlings,

when you're watering, you're going to want to water right next to them.

Make sure you give them enough and you do have to sort of baby them a little

bit, right? Those roots aren't that deep.

The top surface of the soil of course is what dries out first.

So you do have to come in and make sure you give them some water.

So let's see how the soaker hose ends up working. So as you can see,

you can see the water just oozing out across the entire length of the soaker

hose and that's exactly what we want.

And if you're doing it really well and aligning it perfectly,

you could just align it along your rows really smoothly.

And it works a lot better in larger beds.

But you can see how this would be advantageous as compared to running a drip

line through a system like this because each of these little seedlings is

getting water pretty much exactly where it needs it. This one's right here,

water is coming out right there. This one's right here.

Water is coming out right here.

Instead of potentially being on a drip right there or right there,

we're just missing it a little bit.

So a much more effective way to irrigate this system.

What do we do after our plants have gotten past that seedling phase?

Or maybe we're growing a plant that's actually producing fruit.

So here we have a glacier tomato.

You can see it's setting a lot of fruit right now.

That means it's in its heavy production phase of life. As we all know,

tomatoes have quite a bit of water within them,

so it makes a lot of sense to increase our watering during this phase.

They're using more water,

they're sucking it up and they're holding it in these big fruits.

And so we're going to need to increase our water during that phase.

And then you've got plants like leafy greens that you can sort of water the same

way you would normally water because we're just growing those for their

vegetation.

So all you need to do is make sure you water enough for nice healthy vegetative

growth and you're good to go.

But for something like a tomato or plants that throw out a ton of fruit,

watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, these sorts of things,

you really do have to modulate up that watering as they get into that fruiting

phase. Our fifth and final problem when it comes to watering,

which is actually a problem in many aspects of gardening because it's so

important, is not using mulch.

It almost doesn't even matter what you use as mulch provided that you actually

use it. Of course, I prefer organic matter.

This is actually a product I really liked from E.B. Stone.

It's their Top Coat Seed Cover & Mulch. It's a very fine material.

I'll show you some right now. Very, very fine material here,

but you don't have to use that. In fact, in my potato beds right here,

I'm just using straw.

So just covering the hills with a little bit of straw and that's providing

enough moisture protection so that they don't dry out. Potatoes,

if they're in dry soil, the yield just goes way down. But mulch in general,

so there's a whole host of benefits outside of watering.

But basically what it does is it locks the water into the soil that you've

already watered. So if you're watering on bare soil,

especially if it's a little bit more porous mixture,

it's going to evaporate out relatively quickly.

Whereas if you provide maybe an inch or two, maybe even three or four inches,

depending on your style of gardening of wood chip mulch, this type of top coat,

a more fine mixture, straw, uh, shredded newspaper,

pine needles,

all that type of stuff is going to help lock in that moisture and actually

protect the soil in many more ways besides just the issues of watering.

And so not using mulch is a huge problem in gardening in general,

but certainly a problem when it comes to watering.

So here in my potato bed you can see it's not a lot,

but it's enough of straw mulch to just protect these hills.

And it just keeps a little bit more moisture in than would normally be kept and

it's just a really cheap effective way to lock in moisture.

Bonus tip of sorts is to go ahead and use some kind of tool to make your

watering easier. So there's a lot of different things you can use.

These are all sent out by Ray Padula.

I figured we'd run through a couple of different options so you could see

exactly what's out there in the watering world.

I mean this is going to be one of your most crucial go-to's and that would be a

one outlet hose timer.

So if you have a very simple gardening system that only requires one hose to

irrigate everything, you can put that one hose on a timer.

And let's say you know you're watering your garden and it needs an inch a week,

then perhaps you can just set it to go off twice a week for half an inch worth

of water once you do the math.

And the hose timer is going to water your garden for you.

And oftentimes you connect this to drip or soaker and then you're watering at

that soil surface, which is really nice. If you prefer hand watering,

which I often really enjoy hand watering, it allows me to get out there,

test stuff out in the garden, make my observations,

you can grab obviously a simple hose nozzle.

And this one's kind of nice because it has the thumb control here instead of the

squeeze control, which I kinda like.

But one thing I really like is sometimes I'll want to swap this out for perhaps

a water wand.

And so you can make use of quick connects instead of having to screw and

unscrew. So what a quick connect is,

is it screws in with the normal teeth over here.

And then you've got this sort of looking device right here.

And then what I'll do is I'll take, this is actually a host splitter right here,

but what you'll do is you'll screw on the quick connect and then you pull this

down, slide it in, slide it up,

and now you can connect and disconnect tools really, really quickly,

which I find to be really, really nice.

And then speaking of something to speed things up, this is a hose splitter,

right? So one input into two outputs.

Perhaps you could even start chaining things together like this and connecting

one to a timer. You know it needs to be irrigated on a specific schedule.

And then this one you could just be quick connecting in and out of.

So there's a lot of different ways when it comes to watering that you can

customize your setup.

So you can do things in a really quick and efficient way because honestly the

quicker and more efficient you are in the garden,

oftentimes the better your results. So that's it for today's video guys,

I hope you guys enjoyed it. If you have any questions, concerns,

your own watering tip that you'd like to share, perhaps a mistake you made,

leave it down in the comments. I try to read and respond to all of them.

So till next time, good luck in the garden and keep on growing.