By DoMyOwn staff
How much and how often should you water a raised garden bed? Too much and you could open the door for disease problems. Too little and your plants will wilt away and die. Tomatoes are especially sensitive to water levels and you need to get it right. In this episode we will talk about how much water our raised bed needs, how often we need to water to get that amount, and the signs to look for to know if plants need water.
Let's talk about watering our garden bed.
Since the last video when we planted everything, I haven't had to water it one bit! We've gotten that much rain.
I'm glad I put down all of that mulch to protect the soil from washing out of the bed from all the rain that we've been getting, but because we've had so much rain, that soil and even the mulch has settled down into the bed even more. So after I get done doing what we're going to do today, setting up our irrigation system and talking about all of that, I'll just top it off with some mulch to protect it even more.
Irrigation! There's a couple of different ways we can do this. We can simply just take a rain wand, like what we used to soak down the bed and water it by hand that way. We could fill up a canister or watering can and manually do it that way. You can buy soaker hose systems that come with timers that will only run for x amount of time and cut off after that period. Or you can just do what we're going to do, run a soaker hose and manually turn it on and off after a certain amount of time.
Now the reason we're using a soaker hose system, it's going to conserve moisture within our raised bed and it's also going to avoid getting the foliage wet, which if you'll remember can cause disease.
As far as how much water needs to get into our raised garden bed, that's going to vary. What region you live in, the climate, what kind of soil your dealing with, what kind of plants your dealing with, all of that needs to be factored in to how much water goes into your bed.
That being said, most tomato plants generally need about one to two inches of water per week.
Now the question is, how do you measure out one inch of water per week in a raised garden bed? Let's try to answer that.
Here's the soaker hose I'm using and here's how I'm going to measure one inch of water, the tuna can trick. Why a tuna can? A tuna can is roughly an inch tall. Just a little bit over. So what I'm going to do, is I'm going to take my soaker hose, stretch it out, take the tuna can, lay it underneath it, turn the water on and see how long this particular soaker hose takes to fill up one inch of water in the can.
So while that's running I'm just timing on my phone how long that can takes to fill up with this particular hose.
So with this particular hose setup it only took us about two minutes and 15 seconds to get an inch of water in this can.
Just to pause real quick, I realized after shooting and editing this video that I didn't give a really detailed explanation as to how much water is going into our bed and how long we need to water our bed to get that amount of water.
We have an eight foot by four foot raised garden bed. That calculates to about 4,600 square inches of surface area that needs one inch of water.
Our 5/8 inch 50 foot long soaker hose can cover about 375 square feet.
To cover our bed entirely with one inch of water, we're going to need about 20 gallons of water.
So after doing some research and some geeky math stuff, we figured out that we need to run our hose for about an hour and a half, twice a week, to get a little over an inch of water in the entire surface area of our raised garden bed.
All of that being said, and I state this later on in the video, just stick your hand in the soil and look at your plants. That will give you an indication of what your bed needs. Alright, on to the rest of the video.
The reason I want to break it up like that, one or two heavy soakings are much better than a few light sprinkles.
The other thing I'm going to do is put a rain gauge out here. Obviously to measure the rain fall. All that rain that we got, not really sure how much it was but I know it was a lot. So if I've got more than an inch or two inches of water over the course of a couple of days, I'm not going to need to water my bed as much.
But to re-emphasize if I don't get one to two inches of water from the rain fall, one to two heavy soakings through the week should do the trick to give me one to two inches of water in my raised garden bed.
But you got to use a little bit of caution! As much as vegetables and plants love water, over watering can be harmful. It not only wastes water but it prevents the roots from getting air if you put too much water inside the bed.
If your plants are looking a little bit wilted on a hot summer afternoon, that's normal. But in the morning time, if they're starting to look wilted or a little bit yellowed, don't wait, jump on it and start to water them.
Another way you can monitor your water or irrigation system is simply by sticking your hands down into the soil. If it feels dry, you need to water it.
Having said all of that and gotten it out of the way, let's put the soaker hose in the bed.
So to pause real quick, the idea is to take the hose and snake it down and in between each row of plants. Like so. Through out the whole bed.
Alright, now we've got our irrigation system for our raised garden bed. What I did was I just simply snaked it up and down, through the different rows of plants, making sure that they're close enough that the root systems get a good nice drink of water. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to top it all off with my last bag of mulch, to give me a nice good protective barrier for our soil, our irrigation system and our plants.
Soaker hose system is all setup, put down our last bag of mulch throughout the bed, also went through and made sure that a lot of our limbs and leaves were not buried by the mulch so that we don't accidentally end up harming them in any kind of way.
If you'll remember, I mentioned that we worked a little bit backwards. We should have put down the soaker hose before the mulch. But, once again, because of all the rain that we were going to get and that we did get, I wanted to protect our soil and our plants so I went ahead and put down our protective barrier.
Now that the rain has moved out, I was able to run my soaker hose, getting the hose, right up next to the plant, in between every row, on top of the soil, and then putting the mulch back over. Allowing for that moisture to be retained inside of the bed, creating for a nice good drink of water for all of our plants.
Now that our raised garden bed is all set up with an irrigation system, I'm not going to water it!
While I was running the hose, I took the opportunity to stick y fingers down into the soil, to see if it's been retaining any of the rain water that we've been getting. And it has. It's pretty moist, we're good to go. I don't have to water for a good while.
What moisture we've received, we want to let the sun be our friend and dry some of that up and then we'll check it sometime next week to see where we're at and if we need to water it some more. If we don't get any rain by then.
Tomatoes are very sensitive to water levels. Too little water or inconsistent watering can lead to problems. It can stunt growth and lead to such things as blossom end root.
Blossom end root occurs do to calcium deficiency. The constant drying of the roots causes problems with the way that the plant absorbs the nutrients. Blossom end root is just simply the browning of the bottom of your tomatoes.
The cycle of drying and drenching our plants causes them to suck down that water and our fruits end up cracking.
What I'm finding out, watering a raised garden bed, is going to take some practice. You got to get out there, get your hands dirty, put your fingers in the soil to see if it's moist, if it's not, give it a drink. If your plants are looking a little yellow or wilted, they need more water, go ahead give it to it. You just have to monitor where your water level is in the bed and adjust accordingly.
But that in a nutshell is how we water tomatoes in a raised garden bed.
Plants are looking really healthy. Seeing some significant growth. Seeing some flowering occurring, so I know everything's thriving and we're doing good.
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