Raised-bed gardens are an efficient and cost-effective method to cultivate herbs, fruits, flowers, and vegetables in your backyard. They are also valued for their ability to keep weeds and pests at bay, as well as to offer good drainage while preventing soil erosion.
However, how you water the raised beds, can be the difference between a healthy, thriving garden and plants that struggle with under-watering, over-watering, and everything in between.
Watering A Raised Bed Garden
Plants’ capacity to thrive in raised bed gardens is heavily influenced by the technique and frequency with which they are irrigated. To begin, it is critical to carefully select the water to avoid water that contains a high concentration of chemicals or water that is overly salty.
Second, it is very important to avoid overwatering and underwatering your raised bed plants. Overwatering causes plants to rot, while underwatering prevents the plants from absorbing critical nutrients and increases soil salinity, all of which can cause the plants to dry out.
Still, watering a raised bed garden can be done in a variety of ways, and you can choose the one that works best for you to water your raised garden based on its benefits and drawbacks.
Drip irrigation is a type of irrigation in which water drips slowly and gradually to the plant’s base. This can be accomplished by installing hoses with holes or by placing bottles with holes drilled into their tops into the root-covering soil.
If you opt to use bottles, they are filled on a regular basis and placed at the foot of each plant so the water can drop over time. If you use a hose, make sure the holes are spaced according to the needs of the plants.
The most significant downside of drip irrigation is that the perforations might become clogged over time. Drip irrigation installation is relatively expensive and time-consuming, due to the fact that the dispensing holes must be aligned with the base of each plant.
However, because just the soil covering the plant roots is watered, the method considerably lowers irrigation labor, aids in disease prevention, and is precise and water-saving.
Irrigation With A Soaker Hose
A soaker hose, like drip irrigation, appears like a regular garden hose and feeds water slowly and gradually to the base of the plants. The difference is that the latter is made of porous material that sweats or ‘weeps’ water continuously and at low pressure along its entire length. Installing a soaker hose is less expensive and time-consuming than installing a drip. This strategy both prevents diseases while also conserving water.
When turned on, a sprinkler is normally attached to the end of a hose pipe and has holes that spray water. Sprinklers are far more prevalent than their equivalents since they are less expensive to buy and install and require no labor during irrigation. Sprinklers, nevertheless, waste a lot of water because they cover the entire area, including sections that may not need watering.
This is the simplest and most cost-effective technique of watering your raised bed garden produce. Pour water over your plants with a small bowl and break the force of the water with your palm. You can also use a sprinkler nozzle on a watering bucket.
While manual watering allows you to easily measure how much water you feed your plants, it is time and energy consuming. And, because hand watering requires personal effort, you may need to rearrange your schedule, get up early, or make other adjustments to water your plants when it is most convenient for them.
Furrows are large trenches made in the ground for planting or for watering crops around them. You can make gardening easy for yourself by digging a furrow in your raised bed that connects all of the plants.
When you pour water on an elevated section of the furrow, the water will flow through the dug-out channels and into other areas of the garden. This provides water to all of the plants in the raised bed from a single source.
Wicking irrigation uses capillary action to collect water from an underground reservoir constructed of a porous material or from an absorbent wick that connects the garden to the reservoir.
As long as the reservoir contains water, the wick, which can be composed of fabric or soil, constantly supplies water to the bed. Water can be poured into the reservoir from the side. The raised bed garden is effectively self-watering when using the wicking method. Wicking is more expensive to set up, but it is more precise and saves time and labor associated with watering.
When Is the Best Time Of Day To Water?
Early morning is nearly always the best time to water your garden because your plants are lovely and relaxed. Overnight, they replenish their vitality and absorb nutrients from the soil, and in the morning, they prepare for the day’s growth. You may assist them to take full advantage of the sun by delivering water to them early in the morning.
While you can water your garden after dusk, you don’t want it to be damp at night, when most pests come out to attack your plants. If you have a stressed plant, you may always come out in the evening and just water around it, rather than the entire garden.
The Appropriate Amount Of Water
The general rule of thumb is that most gardens require an inch of water per week, but this truly relies on a variety of elements specific to your environment and can even change from day to day.
One factor is the rate at which water evaporates in your atmosphere. The rate of evaporation varies according to the climate. Some gardens in hot, muggy areas can stay moist for much longer between waterings than gardens in areas with different weather conditions. You can find that the topsoil has already dried out by noon, despite the fact that you had just watered that morning. So even if there has been recent rain, inspect your soil to see what the evaporation rate is doing to your plants.
Other key considerations are the type of plants you’re cultivating and the season you’re in. In the cool season, for example, leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale require continual hydration. Lettuce seedlings, in particular, have shallow root systems that do not retain moisture effectively, thus they must be irrigated frequently to thrive. Your seeds may not germinate or your seedlings may not thrive if you allow your garden to dry out.
Occasionally in the summer, when the garden is densely packed, you might not need to water it as frequently. Also, if you have plants providing shade to the bed’s surface, even though it’s warmer, the garden may retain moisture and prevent evaporation. So keep all these details in mind.
Enhancing Water Retention
Raised bed gardens should be able to drain water quickly, so consider utilizing the following garden materials to promote water retention:
1 – Mulch: Mulching reduces water loss due to evaporation because it prevents sunlight from reaching the soil. Mulching also helps to keep weeds at bay.
2 – Liners: Liners such as newspapers, cardboard, weed textiles, and plastics can obstruct water drainage since water cannot easily (or at all) pass through the liner. If you use a liner, water less frequently to avoid overwatering your raised bed garden.
Improving Water Drainage
If your raised bed garden is retaining too much water, you might want to try some of these drainage strategies.
1 – Add a rock layer beneath the soil: By placing rocks beneath the soil, water will drain more quickly. When constructing a raised bed, you can place pebbles on the ground before filling it with soil for your plants.
2 – Increase the number of plants: The more crops you grow in your raised bed, the more water is used. By producing more crops, you can lower the amount of water that remains in your raised bed.
The Advantages Of A Self-Watering Raised Bed
Self-watering arrangements on a raised garden bed, provide a plethora of advantages as well as some additional perks.
- You can water less frequently.
- You may leave your garden for a few days without having to rely on someone else to water it for you or risk losing plants if it isn’t watered at all.
- You have influence over the soil. This is an excellent choice for those who have problems with hard-packed, clay, or polluted soil.
- A self-watering raised bed can be erected in any location. You don’t need a standard yard. Place it on a patio, deck, balcony, or even a rooftop (after making sure everything is structurally sound with the weight, of course).
- More constant watering reduces the likelihood of plant problems such as blossom end rot.
- You aren’t dragging hoses or lugging heavy watering cans around all day.
- You don’t get the runoff that occurs after normal watering if you’re on a balcony or rooftop.
- Because there is no splash-back from the leaves, watering plants from beneath can help avoid fungus and disease.
- Not watering from above also helps to prevent droplet damage to flowers and leaves.
- Raised bed gardens require more water than other garden styles due to their fast drainage system and high plant population. In general, deep watering a few times a year is preferable to shallow watering frequently.
- Water your raised bed garden early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation and increase water uptake by the plants.
- Irrigation at the desired time can be made easier by automating the watering system.
- Mulching your yard also reduces water evaporation.
- The garden should be maintained on a regular basis by inspecting the hoses to ensure that they are not blocked and that there are no leaks.
- To calculate how much water to apply to the garden, evaluate how deep the dry soil is.
Raised bed gardens are simple to care for and great if you don’t have a lot of space. They may be a creative outlet, a hobby, or a method to grow your own fresh produce. When properly hydrated, they may produce nutritious harvests all year long.
Understanding your plants, taking into account the time of day, and checking for good drainage are all necessary steps in ensuring proper watering for raised bed garden. Also, remember that the season and weather might also have an impact on when and how frequently you should water your plants.