The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Problems caused by incorrect watering

Although irrigation can really boost the yield of your garden, watering the wrong way can do more harm than good.  Here are a few problems caused by improper watering:

  • Frequent shallow watering tempts plants to keep all of their roots close to the soil surface.  When you forget to water for a few days, your plants shrivel up and die.  Instead, you should water deeply (about an inch of water at a time) once a week to promote the growth of deep roots.
  • Sprinkler irrigation in the evening can promote the growth of fungi, especially in sensitive plants like tomatoes.  For these plants, water first thing in the morning on a sunny day so that their leaves can dry off quickly, or use drip irrigation.
  • Explanation of soil crustingRapid watering with a hose can cause soil crust formation in clayey soils, especially if you tilled your soil too fine or during droughty conditions.  A soil crust forms when tiny soil particles are washed into the air pores between larger soil particles, forming a soild mass which prevents further water from soaking into the soil.  To prevent crusting, water clay soil lightly and use no-till techniques.  This USDA factsheet (from which I got the photo) gives a lot more information about soil crusting. 

This post is part of our Irrigation lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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