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How often should I water?

This is, of course, one of the most frequently asked questions about any type of gardening. From vegetable gardens to succulents, how much and how often to water can be challenging to determine. The bad news is that there is not a uniform answer that is going to work for every gardener and you cannot simply decide you are going to water once a week on Sundays and leave it at that.

How often you need to water your garden will depend on a variety of factors: the climate where you live, the time of year, the amount of rainfall you receive, the type of soil you have, where your plants are located in your garden, and whether your plants are in containers or the ground.

Even when you think you have it all figured out, it will change on you because your soil is going to dry out faster some weeks than it does other weeks. For example, your soil will dry out faster during hot, dry months than it will during colder months. You will also find that some plants in your garden need water more often than others.

Here is what you are going to do to learn how often to water your plants:

Your first step is to read the labels when you purchase seeds or plants. Mostly, you need to know if the plant is drought-tolerant once established or if it prefers moist soil. Plants that prefer moist soil should be planted in partial shade or consistently moist soil like near wetlands or streamsides and in dry periods, will need watering more often.

For most of your plants, you are simply going to stick your finger about one inch into the soil. If the soil is dry, it is time to water deeply. If the soil still feels moist, wait until it feels dry.  In the Berkshires, we suggest you water deeply about once a week from March into November and twice a week in hotter weather.

If you really have a hard time knowing when to water your garden, plant some leafy green lettuces between your vegetables or in your flowerbed. When the lettuce leaves start to wilt, it is time to water!

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