What about drip hoses? They are said to reduce water loss. In a small veggie plot where things keep morphing, volunteers come up and you let them, it may not work to use drip hoses. Some plants need more water more often than others. Shallow rooted plants like onions, strawberries, lettuces, need water almost daily. When onions and garlic come to bulbing time, they shouldn’t be watered at all. If your tomato gets one of the wilt diseases, you need to stop watering it. Some plants are happy with once a week watering. If you are a vigorous gardener or in a hurry, a hose can be shovel cut in 2 seconds flat! Repairs can be made, but there’s the likelihood it will happen again. I tried hoses, but found they got buried too deep after a time, and it was sometimes hard to dig and set plants where I wanted them without cutting a hose.
If you do use hoses, put your plants right next to it for best benefit, because that’s where the water is. Another matter is how to tell how much water the hose is delivering. Water pressure varies per how many gardeners are using the water at once. There is more pressure near the outlet than at the end of your hose. If your hose is slightly buried, as it should be, to prevent watering the undersides of plants that may mildew, or to prevent evaporation loss, you simply can’t really tell how much water you have delivered. The best you can do is experiment and see the average time it takes by digging around and testing to see if the soil is as wet as you would like it to be.
If you are a row cropper, drip hoses may be a perfect technique if you plant plants with similar watering needs near each other on the same hose line. If you multi crop three veggies together in a row, they may need two hose lines.
If you just planted seeds, using a sprinkler can may be your best bet so as not to splash the soil around and bury the seeds too deeply or uncover them by the force of a water spray.
When I water tender new seedlings, I make sure their leaves are up off the ground when I finish. I use a little stick to support them, so slugs and snails don’t walk right up the leaves and eat them over night.
Consistent watering makes a real difference. If you miss, pods shrivel, beets become woody, radishes get pithy, cucs stop growing well, shrivel and get bitter. Too much water, your cabbages crack, your plants literally drown, no oxygen. You get the idea. A lot of plants do best when they grow hard and fast! They are happy doing what they were born to do! It will take practice to find the right balance for your different plants.
With root crops, be careful not to give them too much water, which promotes leaf growth but hinders root growth and can also cause roots to split – carrots for example.
Some plants don’t prefer to have their leaves watered, like the fuzzy ones, tomatoes, eggplant. And when your tomatoes start bearing, to prevent cracking, don’t water the fruit. Beans and peas mildew. Generally it is best to water below foliage when possible, and if you can, in the AM so foliage can be well dry by evening to prevent mildewing.
Not all hot time of day wilting indicates water shortage! Plants are smart. Some let their leaves droop to prevent the heat from drawing moisture from their exposed flat surfaces!
What about summer crusty soil that the water just runs off of? It is hard for germinating seeds to get through. The water doesn’t penetrate, it seeks the lowest level. What causes it? Salinization. Oddly, caused by over watering, and the cure is to flush with water! Read more.
Some small but simple tips: Don’t rinse your dirty hands in the water as you fill your watering can! That debris clogs those tiny little sprinkler holes! When storing your can, lay it on its side so little critters can get out.