Wa­ter­ing tips

French Property News - - Joie De Vivre -

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’

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