Water Conservation in the Garden

Conservation strategies

Watering Guidelines


Kinds of Organic Mulches

There are many ways to conserve water in the vegetable garden. One is to cut the top from gallon-size milk jugs, punch very small holes in the bottoms, and set them in the ground with only the neck showing above the surface. Use one jug near (or between) each large (tomato or squash) plant and fill it once or twice a week or more often if needed.

Watering Needs for Specific Vegetables

Water is most critical during seed germination, the first few weeks of development, immediately after transplanting, and during flowering and fruit production.

Asparagus needs water most critically during spear production and fern (foliage) development. Less water is needed after ferns reach full size.

Cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, brussels sprouts, kale and kohlrabi) need consistent moisture during their entire life span. The quality of cole crops is significantly reduced if the plants get dry anytime during the growing season. Water use is highest and most critical during head development.

Beans have the highest water use of any common garden vegetable. Blossoms drop with inadequate moisture levels and pods fail to fill. On hot, windy days, blossom drop is common. When moisture levels are adequate the bean plant is a bright, dark, grass-green. As plants experience water stress, leaf color takes on a slight grayish cast. Water is needed at this point to prevent blossom drop.

Carrot and other root crops require consistent moisture. Cracking, knobby and hot flavored root crops are symptoms of water stress.

Corn -water demand peaks during tasseling, silking, and ear development. Water stress delays the silking period, but not tasseling. Under mild water stress the crop may tassel and shed pollen before silks on ears are ready for pollination. The lack of pollination may result in missing rows of kernels, reduced yields, or even eliminate ear production. Yield is directly related to quantities of water, nitrogen and spacing.

Lettuce and other leaf vegetables need water most critically during head (leaf) development. For quality produce these crops require a constant supply of water.

Onion family crops require consistent moisture and frequent irrigation due to their small, inefficient root system.

Peas need water most critically during pod filling.

Potato tubers will be knobby if they become overly dry during tuber development.

Tomato family (tomatoes, peppers and eggplant) needs water most critically during flowering and fruiting. Blossom end rot (a black sunken area on the bottom of the fruit) is often a symptom of too much or too little water. The tomato family has a lower water requirement than many vegetables, and plants are often over-watered in the typical home garden.

Vine crops: cucumbers, summer and winter squash, and assorted melons need water most critically during flowering and fruiting. Vine crops use less water than many vegetables and are often over-watered in the typical home garden.

Contact for bucket irrigation system: Chapin Living Waters
364 N. Colorado Ave., Watertown, NY 13601
Phone: 315-788-0891