Becoming a good gardener has always been a dream. My grandparents had this amazing allotment on the outskirts of Amsterdam. My mother is forever creating beautiful spaces wherever she goes. And me, for most of my life, I have had a brown thumb. Why? Well, foremost, learning how to water my plants has always been an issue.
Now, for the first time in my life I have my own garden. Due to travels past and urban lifestyle, having a garden, particularly a vegetable garden, was one of those things that was on the bucket list. A hope for the future. Life then evolves, as does ones desires and direction. But the funny thing about buckets lists, is they generally stay consistent.
And with ticking that box, came the realisation that not only would I need to cure my brown thumb, but that if I truly wanted my garden to thrive, learning how to water would be actually, well, rather important.
You see in the past, I was an under or over waterer. It started with house plants. I have killed many a house plant in my days. Then, when we looked after the garden at the Chateau we took care of, definitely ditto. And still, as life progressed, plants began to survive, despite me. Or maybe because I learned a few things along the way.
With concentration, paying attention and effort comes learning. And there are definitely a few very solid facts I have learned when it comes to gardening and learning how to water.
As I mentioned, I was (and still have a predilection) for over or under watering. More towards the latter. Much more. I get lazy or forgetful and the next thing you know…
And it would seem a no brainer that water gardens and they do well. But how much water has always been a question for me.
This year has been a splendiferous year for our garden. We had a very dry February and March. 6 weeks of sun, but not too hot, spring temperatures, and no rain. Perfect timing for getting the garden ready, but not yet sowing. Except potatoes. Potatoes did go in towards the end of March in our new hugelkultur bed.
Then in April rain came and gave everything a good soaking and since then we have had rain fairly consistently every 3rd or 4th day. Sometimes just a little shower, sometimes much more, but always with the affect that it has kept the soil moist below the surface. I know this as I can count just on to the second hand how many times I have seen the soil dry and had to water.
Add in spring hanging in there temperature wise until, well, it’s still hanging in by its fingernails with cool nights and mornings and not overly hot days, when July should be hot, hot, hot. The garden should look dry and maybe a little wilted come afternoons, but nope, it looks healthy, fresh and very green.
In consequence I have truly discovered how important water is to a garden by being shown by mother nature. (Okay, yeah, duh. But sometimes you really need to see it in action.) I realise consecutive years we will not be so fortunate, so I will treasure this year.
This year I have learned and put into practise the water well and less frequently method a friend initially recommended (and I didn’t initially heed). But then I watched some videos on learning how to water, which finally made it sink in a bit more (see what I did there, sink in? Like water does…)
This method suits me well as, particularly when it comes to watering, I always seem to be able to find something else to do. And I begrudge the time it takes to water our garden. It takes an hour to water our veg garden alone.
Watering every 3rd or 4th day (depending on how hot and dry everything is) fits into my mind and time much better. It also ties in well with changing duck pond water.
Our duck ponds do get mucky. Ducks are mucky creatures, so it stands to reason. And yet they also adore fresh clean water, particularly for bathing. Eventually we hope to have a flowing stream, circulating water system with ponds – bucket list and all that – but for now, ponds have to be emptied, cleaned and refilled.
I have a system in place for reusing the nicely fertilised pond water. Waste not and all that. It waters the duck enclosure, aka the secret garden. We have plants all around the enclosure, on both sides of its walls, as well as a flower garden near its entrance, and our new bean trellis tunnel within. Lots of plants, lots of watering. But luckily lots of ponds too.
So the duck pond water has become my indicator for when to water. If it is sunny and hot it gets murkier far faster, thus needing changing every third or fourth day. Cooler, cloudier, rain probably, and it is changed every 4th or 5th day. Whichever day, it is always best done first thing in the morning as the ducks love a good bath and preen before the day and water get too warm.
Watering a garden is generally recommended either early mornings or evenings, when sun is not directly hitting it. When you think about it, it makes sense. Who wants to waste their time watering when the sun will simply dry it up before your plants have a chance to drink?
And this year I learned it is thought best to water in the mornings as evening watering encourages slugs. Since I prefer slugs don’t eat my hard won veg, and I am a morning person, and lets add in the bit about ducks liking to bathe early, then watering in the morning makes more sense for me.
Speaking of which, I am going to take my well learned lessons and put them to work now. It’s dawn, the duck ponds need changing and it has been a few days of sunshine. Time to get out there and water my garden.