When to water what?

Question ...

I have lots of different crops growing on my allotment and most of them have been mulched. I add home-made compost each year, before the hungriest crops. However, in the very hottest of weather I do have to water. Carrying the water around is both time-consuming and tiring - any tips?

Answer ...

The home-made compost and mulches will be helping keep lots of water in the soil. Automatic irrigation systems are expensive and not really an option on allotments. The next step is targeted watering - different crops need water at different times. Water peas and beans when they are flowering and again as the pods swell. Leafy crops, such as lettuce and spinach, will benefit from supplementary watering about two weeks before you plan to harvest them. Onions and leeks only need watering to get them established. Sweetcorn should be watered as it comes into flower. Tomatoes need watering twice weekly from flowering - watch out for blossom end rot where the end of the fruit turns brown. This is a symptom of inconsistent watering and can be rectified by more regular watering. Other than this, only water if plants are actually wilting.

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