A question came in from Karen at Ask Gardenerd this week: “During these very hot summer days, what’s the best time of day to water my vegetable garden?”
Irrigation is key during hot weather in climates where rain is scarce. Here in Los Angeles, where days are topping 108° in the Valley and other inland areas, and rain is non-existent, it’s important to water regularly to keep plants happy. But when? It’s a good question.
Ideal watering times
Watering is best done before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. any time of year, but in the summer, before 8 and after 5. This gives plants a chance to drink up water before sun and heat hit your garden. Water during this time frame to prevent evaporation as well.
If you live on the coast water in the morning. This gives leaf surfaces a chance to dry down during the day and helps prevent powdery mildew and other coastal fungal infestations.
If you live inland water in the late afternoon to allow plant roots to cool and absorb moisture overnight.
Ideal watering tools
Drip irrigation is a huge tool for saving water and delivering water right where plants need it most – the root zone! We prefer 1/4″ tubing with 6″ emitters for small-space gardens. It coils nicely through raised beds and covers root zones for bio-intensively planting crops.
Don’t forget mulch!
Mulch is another important tool for keeping water where you put it. It also helps keep roots cool and provides food for soil microbes. Put down a 3-4″ layer of mulch around plants and you won’t have to water as often.
With the three-pronged effort of timing, tools, and technique, your plants will be happier and healthier. Thanks for writing in, Karen. We hope this helps.