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When to Water Vegetables ~ How Much Water is Enough?

Old farmers


With water becoming a scarce and costly commodity in some areas, many vegetable gardeners might wonder just how much water plants really need.

In areas without drought, a common mistakes new gardeners make is watering too much!

To address the big watering question, below is a chart that tells you critical times to water each vegetable crop as well as the number of gallons of water needed.

Of course, these guidelines assume that you have rich, well-balanced soil. Increase frequency during hot, dry periods.

NOTE: If you wish to print this article/chart, go to original source above.

Vegetable Critical time(s) to water for a 5-foot row Number of gallons of water needed
Beans When flowers form and during pod-forming and picking 2 per week depending on rainfall
Beets Before soil gets bone-dry 1 at early stage; 2 every 2 weeks
Broccoli Don’t let soil dry out for 4 weeks after transplanting. 1 to 1 1/2 per week
Brussels sprouts Don’t let soil dry out for 4 weeks after transplanting. 1 to 1 1/2 per week
Cabbage Water frequently in dry weather for best crop 2 per week
Carrots Before soil gets bone-dry 1 at early stage; 2 every 2 weeks as roots mature
Cauliflower Water frequently for best crop. 2 per week
Celery Water frequently for best crop. 2 per week
Corn When tassels form and when cobs swell 2 at important stages (left)
Cucumbers Water frequently for best crop. 1 per week
Lettuce/Spinach Water frequently for best crop. 2 per week
Onions In dry weather, water in early stage to get plants going. 1/2 to 1 per week if soil is very dry
Parsnips Before soil gets bone-dry 1 per week in early stages
Peas When flowers form and during pod-forming and picking 2 per week
Potatoes When the size of marbles 2 per week
Squash Water frequently for best crop. 1 per week
Tomatoes For 3 to 4 weeks after transplanting and when flowers and fruit form 1 gallon twice a week or more
 Needs a lot of water during dry spells.  Needs water at critical stages of development.  Does not need frequent watering.

For more on watering the garden, especially in drought, click to read our article on “The Water-Wise Garden.”

* small tip from me, water in early morning, preferably ground watering. this will help avoid soils issues such as powdery mildew, which can occur with watering at night.


5 responses

  1. Now this tutorial is a real good one for us. We have problems with water retention in the soil. It’s being retained alright, just in the clay layer 200mm down! The trees suck out the moisture from the soil and the clay cracks and we end up with some serious problems with houses cracking as well. Tassie isn’t the damp dark place it used to be with Global Warming. On the positive side (where I like to live on the whole 😉 ) maybe we will be able to grow more warm climate crops and trees? Can’t wait to get pistachios and pecans in if that is the case! 🙂

    July 23, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    • yes i always take care to water the trees, they will take all available water first. weeds will too, so anything you don’t want get rid of in waning moons (grow slower if pulled then). good luck on the pistachios and pecans that would wonderful crop to grow 🙂 yummy

      July 23, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    • Narf, you have red clay soil ??…..Make your best investment mate and spend as much as you can afford on ” DOLOMITE “…Mix it at all deepness you choose, and in 2 years time I will buy all your soil :D…Nah, I have worked up my soil with mulch and more mulch …I AM RIGHT NOW..( No chem fertilizers here ) 😉

      PISTACHIOS trees needs lots of water to establish …Plant an WALNUT some were away from the house but not too far away 😀

      July 24, 2013 at 3:47 am

      • We have a walnut and we grew lots from seed, along with hazelnuts and chestnuts. All of them do well here. Pistachios are great waterwise trees and the water to establish them would be well spent later on. We are growing Pistachio chinensis (gorgeous autumn foliage) that often get used to graft Pistachio vera on. I have a dream…just like Martin Luther King but mine might be slightly less noble ;). I want to grow the entire property cram packed with food in the most natural way possible. The idea was to be growing so much we didn’t even notice the possums plundering! We are going to have to establish them all first. The idea is that as possums are so territorial they will protect their patch so the 10% they might scoff would be money in the bank with our own integrated “pest” management in place using the pest as the solution. Isn’t that what homeopathy does?!!! Our clay is a bollocks :(. It isn’t red, it’s yellow and sets like porcelain in summer and you can just about forget to try digging it if you forgot to dig it in autumn when it was mud. Have you ever heard of Steve Solomon? I have him living just down the road from here and had our soil tested by him. We have a great custom prescription for our soil to grow nutrient dense veggies. All organic and all wonderful based on using canola meal (organic of course and sourced locally) as the nitrogenous quotient and some pretty interesting ameliorants added from there. He is a real character. When he saw my friend Jen and I he figured he didn’t have to “pretend” that he was anything other than an old pot smoking hippy (we must give off vibes 😉 ) and reverted back to being “himself”. A great character and one of many in the permie world 🙂

        July 24, 2013 at 5:56 am

  2. My little secret is, THICK MULCHING, and WATER AT NIGHT ….Give it an good soak every 4 days or 5 .( Works great for me here Out West country ), ..Am lucky tho, I have 3 water tanks, and enough water most of the time ..That is fine, unless one needs other ways, depends on what he grows

    July 24, 2013 at 3:35 am

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