It will rain today (40% chance, with thunderstorms) because I watered thoroughly this morning. It’s infallible, practically a law.

DSC00174Rain is the gardener’s respite. Once the rain stops, I’ll rush over to my garden to appreciate its electrified, green gorgeousness. Summer electric storms transform and invigorate the garden beyond its’ everyday beauty.

Whether hand-watering with the hose or hauling rain water with watering cans, watering your kitchen garden takes some mindfulness . Watering by hand — rather than automatic sprinkler systems — guarantees that every plant gets watered just as much as it needs. Cucumbers, squash and melons, being mostly water, need a lot more watering than tomatoes and peppers, which need very little by comparison. In fact, watering tomatoes too much can cause the fruit to split, damaging your crop. Watering is a delicate balance, requiring observation and mindfulness of the gardener.

And watering by hand allows you to inspect and take inventory of what’s ripe for harvest and what will be soon. It’s pleasant and relaxing, especially after a long day’s work, to pause, to smell the soil, to touch the fruits and plants, to connect with yourself.

I usually water daily and, during the summer, never go more than 36 hours — only after a torrential, enduring rain storm — without watering. For most plants, I water until the ground glistens and just begins to puddle.  And then I do it again, watering twice. Keeping the soil moist, especially on hot, summer days, allows your plants to stay cool and keep producing. On very hot days, I’ve been known to water early morning and evening to ensure that tender plants such as green beans and some herbs don’t turn brown from temperature extremes. Moisture in the soil from a good watering and mulching can bring the temperature of the soil down a couple of degrees, which may be enough to keep your garden producing during dog days. When it’s in the high nineties, even tomatoes  stop putting energy into fruit and go dormant to conserve and preserve the plant’s life.

I water roots of  plants, not the leaves of plants. I use a hose attachment nozzle set to gentle shower to direct and moderate the flow. Often I dig a moat about two inches out from the roots and water the moat, not the roots. This method works especially well with spring and fall spinach, lettuces, young radishes and new beets so they don’t  wash away. And, even with large plants, this method keeps the force of the hose from eroding and undermining the plant’s roots.

More on watering later. I learned to water my garden purely by doing so these tips represent my hands-on learning as a gardener. You may have improvements or knowledge I don’t. Please share.

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