During the summer, I’m out in the vegetable patch first thing every morning (I used to water in the evening until I discovered this year that by watering in the morning, slug and snail damage is cut by as much as 80%) and everything gets a good soak. I was then, most surprised on pulling out a couple of lettuce that had gone to seed, to find that although the surface was wet, the very bottom of the roots were bone dry. For future years, what can I do to improve things? Ed Harris
I wonder if you’ve been watering the plants rather than the soil beneath them. I see all too often, even on television adverts, images of people holding a spray gun attached to the end of a hose and waving it over the plants until the water runs off the foliage. It is far more important that the water is directed between (not over) the plants and directly onto the soil.
Next summer I suggest that you try the following method: water only the soil and do so until you see it darken before moving on. Go back over again once the initial water has had the chance to soak in… and go back over as many times as you can until finally, the top glistens and does not darken – the soil is then at what’s known as ‘field strength’ and can take no more, but the water will reach down where needed, to the roots of the plant.
The first day after such a watering, get out the hoe and loosen the top few centimetres of soil (which will obviously dry first). Doing so destroys the capillary tubes in the surface soil that permit the water to rise to the surface and evaporate. It will also allow the next application of water to run in, not off!
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When watering, a good soaking occasionally is better than ‘little and often’