Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Garden myths debunked 4: daytime watering


Myth: it’s bad practice to water during the day.

I do not agree. I have a mental image of plants dying of thirst on a hot day and the inexperienced gardener waiting until evening because a TV gardening guru said he should! It won’t happen to commercial growers, they water all the time. 

I do not give any consideration whatsoever to the time of day when I irrigate. I water when I judge the plants need it. Nature does not seem to wait until night-time to rain. When I talk about this issue to good gardeners, I find they do water in the day, but somehow feel guilty about it!

Origin of the myth
  • I have already discussed the related myth, the sunshine/water-on-the-leaf syndrome. 
  • The argument is made that on humid nights the plants have more time to absorb water before it evaporates. If this has any significance at all, it is when the gardener is giving a grossly inadequate amount of water. The principle of good watering is ‘ample but infrequently’, NOT ‘little and often’.
  • The completely fallacious belief  that if the soil is wet on the surface, water will somehow ‘soak in’ overnight.
  • The fact  that continuous overhead sprinkler systems will lose water to evaporation before it hits the ground. It will sometimes be true that this waste of water will be greater in the day. 

Rain is the best form of irrigation
When is the best time to water?

Usually anytime, but there are special cases. In a greenhouse in autumn, winter and spring it may be best to water on a sunny morning. That way there are less damp surfaces left to encourage fungal disease. There is nothing wrong with watering in the evening. It can a very relaxing activity. Other gardeners’ evening watering suits me fine. It means more water pressure in the mains throughout the day!

Water supply at Bolton Percy churchyard gate

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