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Tips for watering your garden, fruit trees

Farm and Garden: Vegetable crops and fruit trees need to be watered differently throughout the summer and fall.

May 7, 2024

2 Min Read
Watering a plants in raised bed garden
SUMMER WATER: There are basic tips for proper watering of garden vegetables and fruit trees during the summer and fall. brebca/Getty Images

by David Lott

How much do I need to water my garden vegetables and fruit trees during the summer months, and how do I determine how much water to provide? Warm summer temperatures prompt vegetable crops to grow and thrive. Keeping garden vegetable crops hydrated is crucial for these plants thriving, as water is essential to the photosynthesis process, plant growth and production.

When water availability is reduced, carbohydrate production in the plant, the building block of plant nutrition, decreases significantly. That decrease leads to reduced growth, vigor and crop production potential.

Here are some simple tips to help provide the needed moisture levels in vegetable and fruit crops:

Keep it even. Provide an evenly moist seedbed for direct-seeded crops through the stage where the first two true leaves have emerged. This tip will help plant roots become established to start pulling in moisture and nutrients for the growing season.

Treatment for transplants. Transplanted crops need to be watered to keep the roots and leaves hydrated to avoid plant wilting during the establishment and production phases. Watering with drip irrigation or soaker hoses will help place the water at the base of the crops to reduce water loss and reduce the spread of blight by not moving foliar bacteria with overhead irrigation.

Related:5 causes of brown branches on arborvitae

Much about mulch. Place organic mulch sources that are free of pesticide residue between plants to help keep soil cooler and reduce soil moisture evaporation.

Timing is everything. Water in the morning when the wind is down, or in early evening, to maximize the amount of water that reaches the intended crops.

Consistency pays. Maintain consistent moisture levels for each crop, not allowing the soil to dry out or become soggy. This tip helps reduce incidence of blossom end rot in tomatoes and bitter or watery-tasting cucumbers.

For the fruit. Watering small fruit crops will vary between crops and their specific needs. In general, 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week is needed for plant growth, and especially during fruit establishment.

Slow the water. Fruit trees require a high level of water use, especially during fruit set and development. Deep, slow, trickling watering sessions under the canopy and beyond of each tree is needed every couple of weeks this summer and into fall. If a gardener can shove a screwdriver into 12 inches of moist soil, the irrigation has been adequate.

Veggies vs. fruit. Know the difference between moisture needs between vegetable and fruit crops. Learn more from the publication, “Water Wise: Vegetable and Fruit Production,” by Nebraska Extension.

Lott is a Nebraska horticulture Extension educator based in North Platte.

Please email your farmstead landscaping, turf, forestry or gardening questions to [email protected].

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