–Karline Jensen, High Rocks, Hillsboro, WV
At our Garden Maintenance workshop last week, one of the most popular topics was Watering. Everyone was on board that water is important for vegetable plants to grow strong and healthy, but we got into a good discussion about how often and how much they really need. Some people said they thought the garden needed to be watered every day, so we talked about how watering deeply once a week would encourage deeper rooting because the roots follow the receding water deeper as the surface soil dries. Watering shallowly every day would encourage the roots to stay at the surface and not spread as deeply. Shallow, frequent watering, also leads to higher water loss through evaporation, increasing the amount of water you use at the same time as decreasing its effectiveness. Encouraging the roots to grow more deeply will enable them to reach more of the soil nutrients than they would have access to if they were content to stay close to the surface. We talked about measuring the rainfall to find out if the garden had received an inch in the past week or not, and to water deeply whenever this has not happened. The drip irrigation systems we are providing to many of our gardeners through the Grow Appalachia funding will enable them to save time and successfully get their gardens watered deeply when they need it.