One of the issues our world faces today is the problem of potential water shortage. In many places, potable water has become a limited resource that can not be wasted. Most households use water directly from the tap, for cleaning, washing and bathing. If there is a home garden, watering the plants also consumes a major portion of the water bill. Thus, using water wisely should be every gardener’s objective.
Here are a few tips on how to water your plants more efficiently.
Focus on the roots.
From our science class we learned that it is the plant roots, not the leaves, which absorb the moisture that plants need for survival. So it does little benefit to the plants when we water their leaves. In fact, focusing water on the leaves, instead of the roots, might be harmful for your plants because wet leaves are prone to bacteria or fungal infection.
Use a watering can.
Depending on the size of your urban garden, it is better to use a watering can/pail. Using a container or pail allows you to control the amount of water and minimize wastage. For me, a 5-liter container is an ideal size, which is not too heavy for my small built. If you have enough time and resources to install a sprinkler system, use drip irrigation system instead. A drip irrigation system is better because it controls the outflow of water to the soil.
Water evenly and deeply.
When watering, ensure that the water flows slowly, evenly and deeply around the plant’s root base. For container-grown plants, water your plants until you see some dripping out of the container. Make sure that the containers have enough holes at the bottom, to allow excess water to flow out. Ensure that the soil is evenly moist, but not too soggy.
How frequent should you do it
How frequent should we water the plants depends on the season, type of plants, and size of the pot/ container. During summer, we may need to water more frequently than usual. But not all plants are the same. Some plants need to keep their roots consistently moist, while others prefer them occasionally dry. It helps to understand a little bit about the watering needs for each type of plants.
The size of the pots or container also affects the frequency. Small or shallow pots tend to cause the soil to dry out faster, while bigger and deeper container pots help retain water longer. Some experts advise to check the soil up to about 2- 3 inches deep. If the soil is still moist, then there is no need to water the plants yet.
Use mulch to keep soil moist
Mulching helps plants retain moisture in the soil and protects their roots from extreme heat exposure, especially during summer. Organic materials like dried leaves, tree branches and compost materials are ideal materials for mulching. To prevent the spread of fungal infection or bacteria, mix some hydrogen peroxide which had been diluted with an equal amount of water and spray the mixture on the mulch.
Use recycled or rain water
Lastly, consider using recycled or rain water for your plants. Do not discard the water used after washing your fruits, vegetables, rice grains, meat and fish, or the water that you used for boiling egg or vegetables like broccoli. Instead, set the water aside and use it for watering your plants the following day. Rice wash is very rich in minerals that are needed by your plants, while water from boiled egg is rich in calcium and potassium. Not only do you save water, you can also supplement your plants’ nutrient needs.
Happy gardening everyone!