When to water?

A common question asked by gardeners is how often should they water their garden.
Unfortunately, limited watering times imposed by water restrictions have encouraged some gardeners to rush around giving everything a light watering during the allocated time.
A light daily watering is one of the worst things you can do for your garden. It only encourages plant roots to stay close to the soil surface – the area that dries out first.
Plants watered in this way wilt quickly on hot, or windy, days – encouraging gardeners to perpetuate the cycle.
If you use mulch, very few plants need watering every day. Mulch not only prevents water loss through evaporation from the soil surface, it assists the capillary movement of water through soil. Seedlings will probably require daily watering through the warmer months because they have very small roots systems.
The most reliable way to decide if plants need watering, is to poke a finger, up to the first joint, into the soil or potting mix. If the soil feels damp, the plants don’t need watering. If the top centimetre or so feels dry, give the plants a thorough watering, under the mulch. When watering shrubs and trees, water under the outer edges of the mulch where the feeder roots lie, not near the trunk. Plants watered in this way develop stronger root systems, and will be more resistant to adverse climate conditions.
Many plants slow their growth or become dormant in winter, and they need less watering than in warmer months. More pot plants are killed by over-watering, than under-watering. When the surface of potting mixes feel dry, small pot plants can be watered, at any time, with water collected while waiting for the shower to warm, as long as you remove the bucket before getting in the shower and making the water soapy. Dunk the pots into the bucket until bubbles cease to rise from the water surface. Overhead watering of indoor plants can encourage fungal diseases, especially in the cooler months.

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