top of page

Stick Your Finger In The Ground!

We've talked about various aspects of water in a few previous posts, but this one is all about watering for success. One of our most frequently asked questions by new gardeners is how much do I water? Unfortunately, I can't tell you the answer to that, but I can give you a few tips of how to figure it out for yourself.

The number one thing I tell people is to stick their finger in the ground. This is because even when there are cracks on the surface, the moisture below might still be adequate. So, stick your finger into the ground and see what the moisture is like. If the moisture is at your first knuckle it likely means you don't need to water. Dry all the way to your second knuckle? Time to water. This will give you the most accurate information. You may want to do this in multiple places since some places might have different moisture levels than others.

It's important to know that most plants prefer to be on the dryer side than the wet side. What does that mean? It means that unless you know that the plant doesn't ever like to be dry, you should let it dry out in between watering. The soil should not always be moist. Some plants especially don't like to be damp and require especially well drained soil. In our garden, I can't think of anything that prefers to be wet all the time. Everything requires water, but typically we give things a good soak, and then let it completely dry before soaking again. What does a good soak mean? It means wet. Wet enough that your shoes sink into the mud but not so wet that it takes a whole week before you can walk there. Typically it means the moisture reaches from the top all the way down 5 or 6 inches. Of course, you must be mindful of the weather. If your garden needs some water and it's going to be especially hot, but you're expecting a thunderstorm or a day of rain tomorrow you don't want to soak your garden. Give it what it needs to get through today, and then if that thunderstorm doesn't happen give it a good soak. The last thing you want is to water your garden with an inch of water and then have it rain 3 inches the next day.

The weather will have a huge impact on the watering of your garden. Obviously, rain has the greatest impact, but sunlight hours, wind, and heat all have a big impact on the moisture levels. Here in Manitoba where in June and July the sunlight hours are long, soil dries out much quicker than in September and October when the days are short. Your soil will also dry out more slowly if there is overcast, or calm days. So, these are important factors to consider when watering your garden.

Location of your garden will also impact the moisture. If it is in a wide-open space with no trees around, you may not need to water as often because depending on the type of tree, it can soak up a lot of moisture from your garden. Then again if the wide-open space gets a lot of wind, you may need to water more frequently because the wind can dry very quickly.

When you water matters. Avoid watering during heat if possible. Especially if your plants are currently in flower (watering during the heat can ruin flowers, and sunburn plants). The best time to water is first thing in the morning when it's cool. If you're using sprinklers, watering first thing also means that more water ends up in the ground because it's typically not windy first thing, and if it's cooler less water evaporates before hitting the ground (wastes less water). The second-best time to water is in the evening but try to avoid it if possible. Since nighttime is typically the coolest, cool wet plants can breed disease so stick to morning watering if possible.

Plants prefer to be watered at their roots. Drip irrigation and hand watering do a great job of getting the roots. By watering at the roots, it helps your plants develop deep strong roots, and avoids disrupting any flowers or leaves. Some plants don't like wet leaves and will develop disease if their leaves are wet too often. Plants soak up the most water through their roots. Getting the leaves wet doesn't help them grow. You don't need to use drip irrigation to have a healthy happy garden though. We use sprinklers, and it works great for us.

The type of water you have makes a difference. We use Red River water. What's great about river water is that it tends to be warm during the summer. Watering with semi-warm water helps the plants, and they absorb it better than ice cold water. Be sure not to use softened water if ever possible. Softened water will kill certain varieties of plants, so avoid it if possible.

Lastly, do your research. Find out what kind of moisture the plants you're growing require. This can save you a lot of mistakes while trialing and can help speed your road to success.

Watering the right amount at the right times for every variety takes practice. Each plant you grow has various needs based on location, variety, size, health, temperature and more. Remember to stick your finger in the ground, and you'll already be off to a great start.

Happy Watering!


53 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Unknown member
Jun 26, 2021

Great info M. I love your photos as well! We need rain…no watering is quite the watering from above!

Hope you are all well,

Marianne Bergmann
Marianne Bergmann
Jun 26, 2021
Replying to

You’re right! It’s never the same! We always say God never misses the corners :) hopefully soon. And hope to see you soon!!

Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page