You can make sure that your mum’s gardening plants will succeed if you follow one simple tried and tested rule that will serve you well over many years. It’s just this: never over water your vegetable plants unless you want to kill them. Yes, it’s well-known but you’d be surprised how many would be gardeners, especially beginners, forget to observe this rule and end up frustrated when their vegetable plants eventually die. You may also be surprised how easy it is for the unwary gardener to over water.
How do you tell when your vegetable plants are getting too much water?
They can be:
- Yellow/brownish leaves
- Drooping or wilted plants
- Stunted or rotting roots
- New leaves are absent
These are generally the main signs but note that these signs are also common to other problems such as not enough water. However, there is absolutely no need to over analyse this. It’s not rocket science. The easiest way to check is to dig under the soil about an inch or so deep and take a good look. If the soil is dry at that level, you obviously need to water your plants. On the other hand, if it’s really wet or waterlogged, you need to investigate and find out what is the reason.
Two explanations come to mind immediately. One is that you have been too keen and been watering too frequently. That’s easily fixed. I don’t have to tell you what to do, right?
Most plants like water but not to excess. As a general rule, they should get more water when they are young but, once they are set, they require less water. In fact, if there is enough rain in your area, established plants probably do not need that much extra watering at all. Of course, if rainfall is inadequate, then you have to compensate and supply them with additional water. The rule of thumb here is about an inch each week or as needed.
Remember to water slowly at the root level. This is to ensure that the water enters the top soil and travels deeply to the root system where it’s needed most. Watering quickly may have the opposite effect. Instead, the water may form a puddle on the surface of the ground and eventually evaporate or it will just run off harmlessly.
The other explanation for your waterlogged soil is you have a drainage problem. In that case, you need to address it fairly quickly. Often, this drainage problem is simply due to poor soil in your garden. The solution is to try and improve the soil structure and condition by adding lots of organic matter, compost or well-rotted manure. But, if this fails, you may be facing a much bigger problem in your yard. If it’s severe enough, faulty drainage can potentially undermine your house and other buildings, not to mention create a host of other complications. But, don’t panic. Just attend to it urgently.
By making your mum aware of this rule and telling her to go easy on the water, you can stop her from killing her gardening plants. Don’t forget to mention that, watering her plants only when they need it, requires less effort on her part and will bring her water bill down, saving her money. And, she will also do her bit for the environment by reducing her water consumption. We should all be trying to do that.