Meeting the watering requirements of the garden actually begins before initial planting. Soils that are loose and easy to work generally allow proper drainage to avoid over-watering (Preparing the seed bed). There should be enough moisture in the soil to support seed germination and transplants until roots are established. Being careful not to water too quickly after tillage and causing the formation of a hard surface crust, added moisture encourages sprouts and reduces transplant shock. Adding mulch provides a multitude of benefits, including erosion control and moisture retention.
Some plants handle extremes, too wet or too dry, better than others. Perennials and biennials (Understanding Plant Life Cycles) have natural ways of defending against nature, allowing recovery time once established. Too much rainfall doesnt usually hurt these types of plants as long as they are not standing in water for too long. On the other extreme, these types of plants generally survive limited drought conditions; nonetheless, healthier plants and brighter blossoms result from timely moisture.
The gardener should pay close attention to the moisture requirements for vegetables and other annuals. These single-season plants do not have the same chance for recovery, so timely moisture is essential. Therefore, "having a reliable water source nearby comes in handy from seeding and planting through the hot, dry spells of summer" (Choosing a Garden Site). Adequate watering throughout the growing season directly affects the quality of blossoms and harvest results.
Timing is everything, so it is best to keep track of area rainfall to accurately assess watering needs. Knowing when to water, or when not to water, is much simpler with the use of a rain gauge, which can be found at most garden centers. Measuring the amount of moisture that has fallen on the garden is indeed a wise choice, but if you would like to check rainfall totals without getting your feet wet, be sure to visit our Weather Page.
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