Irrigating Cucurbits

I've been hand watering the young plants, but I think it's time to set up the drip irrigation for the year. The cucurbits look like they are ready to take off and the temps are in the 80's.
It seems to me that every other plant is going to be more tolerant of how it is watered than the cukes. At least that's my experience! I have a Rain Drip single time/frequency timer.
I wonder if I should water early, or just before the day heats up, perhaps 10 AM. Or should I get a timer that lets you set more than one specific time per day and water some in the afternoon when they are getting beat on. I'll be away for a while, so I'd like to program the best guess in. The soil seems to have average drainage and moisture retention. Not too heavy and with some humus to loosen it up a bit. Much better than last year when it was denser. Down 10" there is still a lot of red clay.
Jeff
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I like to water mid-morning, and get the plants hydrated before the afternoon heat. How often do you water your plants and are your plants mulched?
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Billy wrote:

A thin layer of cypress blend mulch (light color). It's rained a good bit lately, otherwise a drink in the morning and more later if they look a bit droopy, not uncommon. But that is all handwatering about a half gallon/plant. That seems like a lot to me for such young plants.
I think I'll set up the 1 gph drippers for 20 minutes, mid morning tomorrow, and see what it looks like later.
I put in the drippers last year after the plants were full grown. I was thinking that a young plant needs less water, but now I wonder if the amount should be about the same as for a grown plant, as it's the ground that needs to be moist.
On another note, it has been a fabulous year for flowers. The irises have been standouts as were the azaleas and dogwoods. Hydrangeas that did little last year are growing fast and roses that hid mostly last year are in full bloom. Perhaps the very cold and wet winter...
Jeff
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Jeff Thies wrote:

Don't guess, test. The amount you need to apply will change as the plant grows and the season develops.

You need to re-check moisture for cucurbits fairly often as the weather changes. If it is hot and dry (and windy) they can wilt through excessive evapotranspiration even if the soil is moist because the roots and stem cannot transport water fast enough for the large leaves. If it turns mild and humid (cloudy) they will need far less water.
They have quite deep roots (particularly pumpkins) so you can aid this by using fewer deep waterings than many shallow ones. The roots will go deeper and tap into subsoil moisture making the plants more resilient. The deep roots will in turn open up the soil in time.
Also allow the nodal roots to take in the soil, this improves growth overall and to some extent insulates the plant against stem damage, stem borers and the transport problems mentioned. Given enough room using this system the plant can become so huge that you prune it with a ride-on mower and fill wheelbarrows with fruit.
David
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

This sounds like the same kind of issue that hydrangeas have. They have big leaves and really suffer in the sun. It took me years to figure that out and move them into the shade! I guess carrots are on the other end.
If it

I'll try doubling up and running every other day. Having just wired up the irrigation for the plants at hand, I'll start the timer tomorrow and customize it until I need to leave. I *was* thinking more often, but I'll go with less and deeper and the soil will improve also, otherwise I'll be playing catch up all season.

I remember this being talked about last year. As I recall I just have to bury a node. I suppose I should put a dripper there.
this improves growth

Oh boy! I'd really like to get some Honey Dews this year too. The seeds were hard to find in the stores, and the variety I got simply said "green".
Any advice on that powdery mildew that affects the leaves? Baking soda? I know this will be a problem later. Our current thinking here is to cut off the bad parts.
Thanks, Jeff

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Just don't get the leaves wet, and everything will take care of itself.
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- Billy
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