When to water?

If I dig down 3-4 inches, the soil appears moist. Should I wait until it's dry to a depth of several inches before watering? My garden is doing well, even my beans are doing good now that the weather is warm. If anything, I'm overwatering. My nieghbors say that our wells will run dry in August, and I will have to switch to city water to keep plants alive. At that time I will need to cut watering to a minimum while still maintaining health and productivity.
So - what is a good indication of the need to water? Wait until plants start to wilt? Wait until soil is dry at a depth of several inches. Water twice a week, needed or not?
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On Tue, 11 Jul 2006 14:54:31 -0700, "Matthew Reed" <nospam at zootal dot com nospam> wrote:

Of course containers need almost daily watering, but I only water in the ground when I first see the start of a wilt on the least drought tolerant plant in the garden. In "general" one inch per week is ideal, but not always necessary.
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I watch the leaves, they will tell you.
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I agree. It's actually good for plants to get to the "soft wilt" stage before you water. When they first show signs of wilt, water them. They will grow to be stronger plants.
betsyb wrote:

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Even when plants like squash or cukes or corn are producing?

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Those plants will do fine. But, it's good not to let tomatoes go through extremes - very dry soil followed by lots of water. It can lead to cracks in the skin. Would it be practical for you to use a watering can or rain wand? http://www.dramm.com/html/main.isx?sub 
These tools put the water only where you need it.
"Matthew Reed" <nospam at zootal dot com nospam> wrote in message

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With vegetables watering is more crucial to watch. However, it's always best not to water vegetables before you pick them because it will take some of the flavor away.
On Tue, 11 Jul 2006 22:48:32 -0700, "Matthew Reed" <nospam at zootal dot com nospam> wrote:

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"Matthew Reed" <nospam at zootal dot com nospam> wrote in message

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Short answer: it depends.
Shallow rooted plants, such as peppers and beans won/t appreciate having the top two inches dry out.
Corn roots OTOH, go much deeper, but corn likes 1-2" / wk following pollenation when the ears are filling.
Melons, strawberries, and brambles like water while their expanding, but not while they/re ripening b/c it dilutes their sugar content.
Tomato likes an even water supply, especially while ripening to minimize splitting.
Best overall advice is to apply mulch and irrigate in the morning to supplement rainfall so that your plants get ~1" / wk. Like me, you/re on well water, so drip irrigation is the best method.
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"TQ" <ToweringQs AT adelphia.net> wrote in message

Ahhh...did not know that about peppers/beans. Might explain why some of my beans did not set fruit. And why my peppers are growing slowly and for the most part just sitting there. So are my Eggplants. My tomatoes and tomatillas are exploding - I had no idea tomatillas would grow so big! And my first planting of corn is just now sending up tassels, plants are 6' tall and growing - I figure they will hit 8' or so. Appreciate the water advice -)
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