During the heat of summer (and even spring!), watering the vegetable garden generates a lot of questions. Vegetables are anywhere from 75 to 95 percent water, making how to water one of the most important decisions in vegetable gardening. Probably one of the most asked questions is, “Is it better to apply water to the vegetable garden in the morning, day, or night?” Watering in the early morning hours is your best bet for several reasons.
Windy conditions and temperatures are not as high in the early morning. For us gardeners, that means less water is lost through evaporation. This is especially important in areas that are on water restrictions where every drop of water counts. A vegetable plant facing a 90-degree day is going to bear it a lot better with the early morning water it received.
When supplemental water is applied in the morning, the foliage of vegetable plants will dry quicker than if the water was applied at night. This helps with plant disease management and is especially important for those using a sprinkler irrigation system. A wet, humid plant canopy is a tempting environment for bacterial and fungal diseases. When a disease is already present, a wet plant canopy can spread the spores around.
For those gardening on clay soils, it is much easier to apply water that will penetrate down to the roots when the soil is not crusted over in the heat of the day. Water will run off when applied to a dry clay soil.
Finally, foliage of vegetable plants can become burned when water droplets are left on leaves in the sun’s direct heat.
Good water management leads to a healthy plant, and healthy plants are able to withstand insect and disease pressures better than unhealthy ones. Be sure and check out the Bonnie Plants Learn and Grow Library! These articles focus on watering and battling drought:
If you have more questions relating to drought or any other vegetable and herb gardening topic, ask me through the Bonnie Plants Ask An Expert tool.
By Dani Carroll, Extension Agent and “Ask an Expert” Moderator