Tips for early watering of your garden

By Gregg Eyestone

Soil temperatures and water are necessary for our gardens to take off in the spring. If either is not right then the desired outcome will be reduced. Take your soil’s temperature around 11 a.m. to determine correct planting time. Then make sure your plants have moisture to grow.

A garden crop needs water available at all times during its life cycle to survive and grow. Once seed is moistened, it needs to stay moist through germination as it sprouts out of the ground. This means a frequent and light application of water. Spring can often provide these conditions.

If I have to supplement the irrigation, I use a watering can that has a water breaker providing a gentle spray. The ideal water source is rain water. It is pH neutral and hasn’t been treated for human use. Rain barrels or buckets that can collect the water are my sources when it does rain. Trash containers work well too.

Food crops require a constant source of moisture. Crops should never be under prolonged water stress since yield, quality and pest resistance may be sacrificed. Plants use water as part of the photosynthetic process. Most water used in the plant is used to move nutrients from the soil environment to upper parts of the plant. The water cools the plant as it moves from the roots to the leaves where it exits the plant.

Cool-season plants have shallower mature root systems than warm-season plants. Our spring vegetables, berry bushes and early flowers will develop roots about two feet deep. The soil should stay moist to a depth of six to twelve inches as these plants mature. Warm-season plants roots may go as deep as four feet.

The Riley County, K-State Research and Extension Master Gardener are scheduled to have an informational booth on watering at the Blue Earth Plaza on 3rd street in Manhattan. They will be there from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday April 13, weather permitting. Rain barrels for purchase is scheduled too.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website at Gregg may be contacted by calling 785-537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail:

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