How much watering?

Anyone have an idea how often and how long I should water a 7'x8' vegetable garden? (carrots, green beans, tomatoes and peppers - not planted yet) Common sense tells me the best times to water are in the morning before the sun heats things up and early in the evening when it gets cooler. Is once a day enough? I'm also not quite sure how long to water. I don't want to over-do it. I'll be watering with a hose that has a sprinkler head on it. I'm thinking a few minutes of watering is plenty for such a small garden. Am I on the right track? Sorry if this seems like a silly question to those of you with a lot of gardening experience. Prior to this year my closest experience to gardening was buying vegetables at the grocery store. Lol Thanks
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Hud wrote:

Watering is a learning experience...it can vary from place to place depending on humidity and type of soil etc etc. I use soaker hoses that run for 15-20 minutes on timers. With a hose and regular sprinkler attachment, I doubt I'd water one of my 4x8 plots for more than 2-4 minutes. Once a day is usually fine, too. It is possible to over water.
If you're going to do the watering yourself, I find it's best to do it in the evening...unless you're up at the crack of dawn. You can tell if you're underwatering if (given average temps) the next day the soil is dry and the surface crumbly and cracky. You're overwatering if it's still soaking wet the next evening. From there, you find a happy medium.
And of course, you don't need to water during wet weather...sometimes for a day or two later.
If you water too much, also, you'll encourage shallow roots. You want the roots to go down far...take the moisture from the ground.
..
MMVIII
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My philosphy's been that of minimal interference. The more you do to your plants, the more they'll depend on you.
I'm in NE Indiana, and only water the garden when the soil looks like it needs it. (Dig down a couple inches and see what the ground looks like there.) We get enough rain here that the soil stays sufficiently moist for plant growth 90% of the time.
Puckdropper
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wrote:

Jeff Cox says in "Your Organic Garden" that most vegetables need 1/2 to 1 inch of water a week.
It is better to water less often and do it deeper. To measure the amount of water you are getting for normal rainfall and hand watering, put can or pot in the garden, make sure it is level and stick your finger in to check. To the first knuckle is about 1 inch. Heavy clay soil holds water better than sandy. Keeping the garden mulched helps too.
I believe that you said you were in Ohio. I do not have the impression that Ohio is really hot and dry so you may not need to water very often.
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Susan N.

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Taking Susan's suggestion of 1/2" to 1" of water per week, for you that would mean multiplying the length and width of your garden in inches
7' x 12"/ft. = 84" 8' x 12"/ft. = 96"
84" x 96" = 6,064 sq. in. of surface,
1" high would be 6,064 cubic in.
A gallon is 213 cu. in. so,
6,064 cu. in. / (231 cu. in./gal.) = 26.25 gal
Now take a 5 gallon bucket and measure how long it takes you to fill it with your sprinkler head. Let's call that amount of time "y" minutes or seconds.
The amount of time you need to water for 1 inch "x" is:
x min.=(26.25 gal )(y min./5 gal)
As Puckdropper says, this is all rather empirical, more importantly check the dampness of the soil and look for wilting leaves (water stress). You will quickly get the feel of it. I've always heard that the best time to water was just when the ground starts to get warm because this is when the plants can best use the water. Given a choice between morning and evening, I'd pick morning, again because there would be more moisture in the ground, being less time between application and need. No matter when you water, in general, try to water the ground and not the leaves.
I use drip irrigation. I get the paper in the morning, turn on the water. Finish my coffee, turn off the water. Watering is very relaxing, if you have the time, and lets you spend more time observing your work.
- Bill Cloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
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In article

Watering by hand that is. - Bill Cloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
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On Fri, 13 Apr 2007 14:22:05 -0700, William Rose wrote:

Yes, watering is very relaxing. I walk around the garden and manually do it. Every day I see the plants. The ones that are thirsty get a drink.
stonerfish
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During the summer when I'm up at the crack of noon or later, I usually go take a look at the plants in the garden before breakfast. While I'm much more likely to water with the hose, I agree that checking the plants can be a very cool thing.
Puckdropper
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Hud wrote:

can. Do this about once a week and you will be okay. Watering by hand won't get you too far, try using a sprinkler and a soaker hose is even better, less loss to evaporation that way. HTH
George
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So, you're going to aerate the water first (evaporation) with a sprinkling system before it hits the ground.
Hand watering is the most effective use of water, whether overwatered or not. Not all the soil needs soaked like using a soaker hose. Maybe that's why some municipalities overlook hand water method during water usage times...
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Yes avoid midday waterings unless your seedlings are about to shrivel.

You would only water more than once a day if it is very drying conditions and you have new seedlings planted. In most circumstances every day would not be required.

This will take some experience to learn. Study your garden carefully each day, or morning and evening if you can, and work out if you should water and if the last time you watered was deep enough but not too deep.
I'll be watering with a hose that has a sprinkler head on it.

No. A few deep waterings (say once or twice a week) is much better than a light sprinkle each day. Put it on no faster than it will soak in but keep it going until well soaked. Having a river running down the path is stupid and wasteful.
Sorry if this seems like a silly question to those

Don't take a formula approach to this, learn to be flexible.
The absolutely most valuable thing you can learn as a gardener is to be a good observer.
Practice your observation skills with watering. Observe the plants themselves as well as the soil. Are the plants wilting at all? Is the top of the soil damp? How about 4 inches down? Your aim is to water sufficiently deeply only as often as is required. How much that is and how often depends on many things:
- air temperature and humidity - wind - type of soil - degree of mulching - type and size of plants.
There is no accessible formula that will tell you how to compute all that and determine your watering needs, you have to learn by experience. There is a mechanistic way used by commercial growers that requires accurately measuring the water content of the soil but the instruments are very expensive and complete overkill for a small garden.
David
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Since its not planted yet, don't worry about it.
To encourage germination, keep the soil moist at all times. After weening the seedlings, follow the advice of the well meaning folks here.
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Don't forget that YOU don't have to do it. The natural rainfall in an area will take care of some of that for you.
I almost always water after putting seeds in the ground, even if it does look like rain. Some of it's not just about seed germination, it's about encouraging soil to pack more tightly.
Puckdropper
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