Gardening Blunder #4

February 16, 2006

The previous gardening blunder looked at the importance of feeding the soil; today’s blunder examines the watering techniques for supplying moisture to the plants growing in your vegetable garden.

Gardening Blunder: Shallow Watering

A consistent supply of moisture is important to maintaining your plants growth and health. Many beginner gardeners provide frequent but shallow irrigation to their vegetable gardens, which can be a big mistake.

The harm from shallow irrigation is that it encourages your plants to develop shallow root systems, rather than promote deep root growth.

For the best results in your vegetable garden, you should follow cultural practices that aid your plants in developing deep, spreading root systems. Shallow rooting harms your garden in a number of ways:

  • Shallow rooted plants will become dependent on frequent irrigation and will not be capable of reaching moisture that is deeper within your garden soil levels. These plants will therefore be more susceptible to stress during drought conditions.
  • Shallow root systems will deplete nutrients in the upper soil levels, rather than mine nutrients from deep within your garden’s soil.
  • Your garden won’t benefit from the soil loosening and conditioning that is created by deep growing root systems penetrating, and later decaying within the deeper subsoil levels.

Watering Solution: Less Frequent, Deep Irrigation

Your garden will be better off receiving a deep and thorough watering a couple of times a week than if you provided a shallow watering every day.

In the next Gardening Blunder we’ll discuss why it’s so important to choose the correct growing seasons when you plant particular varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs into the home garden.

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • Cheryl

    How much watering time is required for it to be considered a “deep, thorough watering” ?

  • Kenny Point

    Cheryl, you can judge the depth of you watering by scratching the surface of the soil to see how far the moisture has penetrated. You’ll be surprised how much it takes for the water to soak into the soil to reach a depth of a couple of inches.

  • mike

    When is the best time to water morning or evening?

  • Kenny Point

    Mike, either morning or evening is fine for watering the garden. The time that you should avoid irrigating the garden is during the heat of mid-day. When watering during the evening, if you can try to allow enough time after irrigating for the plant foliage to dry out before the sun sets.

  • Dave

    I got a vegetable drip kit from a company called Mister Landscaper. The product has worked great for me. It uses drip tubing to keep water at the root zone. I was interested in conserving as much water as possible, but I don’t want my plants to suffer. Do you recommend this kind of irrigation? It seems to keep the ground pretty moist. The site is Thanks for your thoughts!

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