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University of Minnesota Extension

Watering the vegetable garden

Quick facts

Water your garden so that your plants always have enough moisture.

  • On sandy, well-drained soil, you may need to water twice a week.
  • For soils that hold moisture, such as heavier clay soils, or loamy soils rich in organic matter, watering once a week is fine.
  • Soil covered by mulch will retain water better, and you may need to water less often.

Watering the garden is a must

It is nearly impossible to have a successful vegetable garden without watering. There may be weeks or even months when the perfect amount of rain falls. But nearly every summer brings a stretch of hot, dry days when garden irrigation is essential.

hand dripping water onto seedling in mound of soil

A lack of water can have major impacts on plants, even if it is just for a few days.

Plants draw nutrients in through their roots and move the nutrients through the plant in a water solution. A lack of water also means a lack of nutrients.

Photosynthesis transforms water into sugar and oxygen when light hits plant leaves.

How drought can affect your harvest

Under drought stress, garden plants may produce small fruit, such as undersized tomatoes or melons, or they may produce no fruit at all. They may become tough, fibrous or bitter, as with cabbage and turnips. They may bolt, sending up a flower stalk and stopping growth, as with lettuce and spinach. Or they may wilt and die.

Watering wisely


Jill MacKenzie

Reviewed in 2018

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