I have a unique perspective on water.
I don’t water (much).
I’m serious. I water about 4 times all summer. There are as many opinions on watering as there are people who garden. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m just saying I don’t water (much).
Why? The raised beds help a lot. They are deep. They are filled with moisture holding compost. They are usually mulched (which holds in the water they do get).
I also use timing to my advantage. I transplant seedlings and sow seeds when there is rain in the near forecast.
But the main reason I don’t water is because of what Papaw (Mamaw’s husband) said to me 6 years ago when I was touring his vegetable garden. It was sumer. It was hot. It was dry. BUT his plants were thriving. They were lush. They were green. Everyone else was watering to try to save their tomatoes from the scorch. And Papaw was out walking his rows with a hoe. No water.
Here I was stressing out, worrying about my poor plants, watering every other day like a mad-woman. Setting up drip irrigation so the leaves wouldn’t get wet. AND my plants were barely surviving the crazy hot summer we were having.
Here’s what he said,
“When you start waterin’ – you’re into waterin’.”
Then he explained that his parents couldn’t water. They didn’t have the resources, time or money to spend all those efforts on providing water to their garden. There were just other things that needed to be done on the farm and quite frankly, were a higher priority. Watering the garden was not even on the chore list. They had to milk the cows, make the butter, make the cheese, mend the clothes, cut the hay, store the hay, care for the animals, chop the wood, cook the meals, butcher the meat, etc. They had to survive. There was no time for baby-ing the garden. Yet year after year, his parents always filled jars and jars of food with the harvest from their garden. Without ever watering.
I have another homesteading friend who has never watered her garden. She has been growing food and selling her bushels of veggies at Farmers Markets for years. Without ever watering. She doesn’t even have a water source anywhere near her garden. And it’s HUGE (the garden). Even if she wanted to water she couldn’t. And her garden is beautiful. It is bountiful. It is glorious. She not only grows & cans her own food – she makes pockets-full of money every Saturday at the Farmers Market… without watering.
Maybe we just have the time, the water and the ability to baby our plants – and so we do. Maybe our plants would be OK if we didn’t water.
Papaw said that once you give in and start to water your plants – you’ve turned them into sissy’s and you’re stuck watering for the rest of the season. If you give those tomatoes some tough love & let them hold out for the next rain, you’ll have stronger plants with stronger roots systems (because they have to search out moisture), and (probably) a nice harvest.
Is my harvest smaller because I don’t water (much)? Maybe. But what does watering cost me in money, time, effort, and stress? When did it rain last? How much rain did we get? When will it rain again? Did I turn the water on? Did I turn the water off? Yikes! Someone go turn of the water!
I decided to do what Papaw does. I don’t water (unless it’s been 3 weeks since it rained). I just let the rain take care of things.
This approach has really relieved some stress and pressure off of me. I have other things to worry about than if my tomato plants got 4 inches of water this week.
Your situation may be different. If you live in Nevada, I’m gonna say that your garden probably will need some water. Here in Kentucky I have a little more freedom to tell my plants to “suck it up.” There’s usually rain somewhere on the radar around here. 🙂