Keep watering

Have you been enjoying the dry weather? Has your garden enjoyed it?

The latest edition of the Urban Scion Post (love that name!) from the Seattle Tree Fruit Society offers great advice: “Keep those sprinklers going.” The article makes an important point, and it’s not just for fruit trees: it notes that “plants that go into the winter months under drought stress caused from a lack of water are more susceptible to winter damage than those that have ample amounts of water.” The advice comes from horticulturalists at Washington State University.


I’ve been amazed at how dry my garden has been getting. Sure, the days are cooler, so the sun is not baking the landscape as it does in summer. But the garden, especially the vegetables and annual flowers–and most especially the raised beds–have been extremely dry. I’ve

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been keeping my drip irrigation system on, just running it for 10 minutes a day three days a week, and it has meant all the difference. My summer vegetables are still producing (the basil and cherry tomatoes love this weather!) and the winter vegetables, which are still very small, are putting on good growth.

I use my index finger to test the soil for watering. Some people have a “rule of thumb,” I have a rule of

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index finger. I stick it into the soil beyond both knuckles. If it comes out with wet soil clinging to the finger all the way up, the garden is certainly wet enough, probably too wet. If there’s wet soil up to the second knuckle, the moisture level is just about right. If it’s only up to the first knuckle, it’s time to water. And if it comes out completely dry, I have let it go too long, and my plants are in stress.

So keep watering during the dry fall weather. Even if we start to get showers, go out regularly and test the soil with your finger, or a more sophisticated moisture meter. The fall rains will return soon enough, but for now, we need to provide the moisture, to keep our plants healthy into fall.

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