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Best ways to water your garden during a heat wave

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With temperatures soaring into the upper 80′s and 90′s, keeping the garden well watered is critical. Plants lose a lot of water through small openings on the undersides of their leaves. On hot, breezy days, water loss can exceed the water taken in by the plant’s roots, resulting in wilting. If the situation goes on uncorrected too long, the plant will die.

Here are some tips that will help you water effectively, while not wasting water.

  • Early morning and evening are the best times to water. Putting the sprinkler on a timer allows you to start and stop watering at optimum times.
  • Drip irrigation, sweat hoses (round hoses that leak water from all sides) and soaker hoses (flat hoses with holes on one side only) turned upside down will put water at the roots where it’s needed.
  • When using a sprinkler, turn it off as soon as the soil becomes saturated and begins to run off your garden. This can occur quite quickly, depending on how dry the soil is. Wait until the water seeps into the soil and then repeat if time allows. Otherwise water again the following day.
  • A covering of mulch will help reduce water loss from the soil through evaporation.
  • Use the milk jug system for watering individual plants. Punch a couple of pinholes in the lower sides of a plastic milk jug. Remove the cap and place the jug beside the plant. Fill the jug with water. This system will provide slow, thorough watering over the course of an hour or so.

Barbara Murphy, University of Maine Cooperative Extension gardening expert, answers questions from beginning vegetable gardeners at Grow Maine Grow!

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