Gardening: When it comes to watering, go deep

By Rachel Vogan

Soil is the backbone of the garden, but water is the lifeline. Over the hottest months, valuable moisture is sapped from the soil and from the leaves of plants. Even on a dull day, valuable moisture is lost. Water is a vital part of photosynthesis, as well as being the primary medium for dissolving minerals and fertilisers in the soil. Hand watering is a pleasure many gardeners relish, however it's not the most efficient method of watering the garden. Deep root soaking is by far the best method, but this is time consuming and not often done by hand.

Inadequate and poor watering are major contributing factors to lack of crop performance.


Add layers of thick mulch and feed to garden beds and pots. Ensure the soil is moist before applying, as the mulch will lock the moisture into the soil and keep the root zone cool and healthy. Woollen carpet, coffee sacks and old woollen blankets can be placed on the soil underneath the mulch to further help conserve water. Over time they rot away, adding organic matter to the soil.

Incorporate SaturAid into the soil to enable it to hold on to more moisture. In poor, sandy soils, water quickly drains away before plant roots can soak it up. Add Tui Organic Compost or Tui Super Sheep Pellets to your soil to improve its water-holding capacity.

Pots and containers can dry out quickly; choose a top quality potting mix such as Debco Pot Power to give plants the best chance of coping in hot weather.

Water in the morning or later in the evening to avoid water loss through evaporation.

Plants show when they need water. Watch out for wilting leaves, stunted growth or invasions of pests and diseases.

Water the soil - not the plant. This goes for pots and containers too. The roots take up most of the water; the leaves use a little, but nothing in comparison to the root system.

Water deeply once or twice a week rather than a little every day. Frequent shallow watering encourages roots to stay near the soil surface to seek out water rather than growing deeper into the soil.

Baskets and containers that dry out completely can be rehydrated by placing the whole container in a bucket of water or even in the bath, and allowing the water to soak up through the soil and root zone. This may take hours, but your plants will love you for it. Once the bubbles stop appearing, the root ball is rehydrated.

Recycle, reclaim and re-use: Grey water from the shower, washing machine and dishwasher can all be captured and used on the garden.

As long as it's not overly contaminated with chemical-based cleaners, it's safe to use on the garden. Simply collect rain water from the spouting and store in large containers for later use.



We have a Tui water-saving pack consisting of Saturaid 500g, 2 x Mulch and Feed 40L and Tui Pea Straw Mulch 5L to give away. Send your name and contact details to by February 21.

- Hamilton News

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