How to Water Your Vegetable Beds & Container Gardens: Calculating Temperature with Other Factors for A Weekly Watering Routine

Posted by Gary Pilarchik on

I get asked all the time, "How much water should I give my plants?" or "How often should I water my plants?" The answer is... it depends.
I can't answer that question with a single simple answer because many factors need to be considered when determining how often and how much water to give your plants each week. The following factors have to be considered:
  1. Plant Size
  2. Soil Type
  3. Temperature
  4. Weather Conditions: Full Sun, Cloudy, Rain
  5. Container Size for Container Gardens
  6. Planting Density for Earth Bed Gardens

These factors dictate how frequently you should water your garden plants over a given week. The principles I present should be used as guidelines for setting up a weekly watering routine. Most importantly it is better to over-water than to let your plant's root system completely dry out. This is more of an issue for container gardens but it can also happen in earth beds. As long as your containers have adequate drainage, it is very hard for plants to get over-watered. 

Please visit: The Rusted Garden Seed & Garden Shop for Neem Oil, Pepper Mint Oil, Rosemary Oil, Calcium Nitrate (for Blossom End-Rot), Seed Starting Supplies and Seeds. Some seed packs are about $1.   

You typically always hear one to two inches of water per week. That leaves such a gray area for most gardeners. And this varies greatly between earth beds and container gardens. The bottom, logical, line to follow is that the hotter it is, the bigger the plants, the less rain you have, the more plants you have in a space... the more you will need to water during the week. 

Here are the principles you can use to set up your garden watering routine. Use them to set up a  weekly plan and adjust accordingly as factors vary and change. When in doubt, give them extra water, especially when the plants are large.


Watering Amount and Frequency for Earth Beds


Give each plant or 12 inch x 12 inch space/a square foot, one inch of water. I show you how to calculate one inch of water, in the video, using a 5 gallon container. Essentially you mark a two inch line from the bottom of the container and count how long it takes for your hose to fill the container to the two inch line. This will approximate one inch of water per plant or square foot. Water each plant for that time period. Feel free to give them up to two inches of water during the hotter days.


When the temperatures are cool... one inch of water 1 or 2 times weekly depending on plant size and rainfall.

When the temperatures are in the 80's... one inch of water 2 or 3 times weekly depending on plant size and rainfall.

When the temperatures are in the 90's... one inch of water 3 or 4 times weekly depending on plant size and rainfall.


Watering Amount and Frequency for Container Plants


Give each container plant enough water until the water gently trickles out the drainage holes. Try not to over water them as to have a lot of excess run off because it will flush nutrients out, especially water soluble fertilizers.


When the temperatures are cool...  water 2-3 times weekly depending on plant size, container size and rainfall.

When the temperatures are in the 80's... water 3-4 times weekly depending on plant size, container size and rainfall.

When the temperatures are in the 90's... water 5 times weekly or daily depending on plant size, container size and rainfall. You may have to water 2 times daily as your temperatures approach 100 degrees.


The above guidelines are fully discussed and demonstrated in the video. You can use them to develop your own weekly watering routine. Common sense tells you to water more often as it gets warmer but determining how much to give them each time is a very common question. One or two inches of water gets deep into the ground for earth bed vegetables. Making sure you give your container plants enough water until it lightly trickles out the drainage holes both supplies your plants with the right amount water and it also prevents the leeching away of valuable nutrients. Water is not as simple as it sounds. These guidelines will help you to be more successful in your gardens.

Good Luck,

Gary Pilarchik (The Rusted Garden)

Please visit: The Rusted Garden Seed & Garden Shop for Neem Oil, Pepper Mint Oil, Rosemary Oil, Calcium Nitrate (for Blossom End-Rot), Seed Starting Supplies and Seeds. Some seed packs are about $1.   

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