Top tips on watering summer vegetables

By Gregg Eyestone

Best watering practices can reduce some issues that commonly occur in the vegetable garden. An inch a week works pretty well as a starting point for most situations. Mulching your plants makes that inch of water last. Read any plant guide and it will likely state that your plant likes an evenly moist soil.

My first tomato fruits of the year are developing. Keeping the soil evenly moist is the best defense from blossom-end rot. Blossom-end rot is not an infectious disease. The large, dry, brown to back, leathery area on the bottom end of the fruit is a physiological problem caused by a calcium deficiency in the developing fruit. As the tomato plant matures, blossom-end rot goes away.

Cracking of tomatoes and other vegetable fruits is often caused by watering. These situations are made worst when dry soil gets a heavy amount of moisture from a rain or forgotten sprinkler. Avoid over-watering but also don’t let the soil dry out too much to set the fruits up for cracking.

My first sweet corn planting is tasseling and the beans are starting to bloom. Water is important during the whole plant growing period but early fruit and pod enlargement improves yield.

There are a few vegetables that I let forage for their own water after establishment. Melons with watermelon in particular have to find their own water. They originate from central Africa where they have to fend for themselves. I take the same approach. A dry soil followed by a downpour will make them crack. Good luck forecasting those occurrences.

Okra and sweet potatoes are basically drought tolerant. Weeds like the moisture more than the crops. These will take the rain when it comes but keep the irrigating to a minimum.

Water is critical for plant growth. Each crop and site is specific. Add the ever changing weather and it becomes a wonder how any crop produces in Kansas.

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 through e-mail at

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