Archives for posts with tag: underwatering

It’s a happy time of year in the garden.  Everyone is growing with vigor and strength (every one of the vegetables, that is).

Well, almost everyone.  One of the cucumber vines is showing the unmistakable signs of bacterial wilt, having been infected (I presume) by the striped cucumber beetles who arrived in the garden only recently.  The upper third of the vine is completely and irreversibly shriveled.  I snipped off the afflicted section and will see whether the condition spreads to the remainder of the plant.  Based on experience, I’m fairly sure that it will but as my father used to say, hope springs eternal (he usually said this about our always-hungry cat).

Bacterial wilt aside, the cucumbers have not been particularly successful this year.  We are very happy with the varieties—they are the tastiest and have the silkiest texture of any we have ever grown—but the vines are small and weak and there has not been an abundance of fruit.  Whether this is due to the particular cultivars, too little or too much water, the soil (very likely; we dug only small pits for the seedlings), or—who knows?—sun spots is not clear.  It is nearly time to take soil samples for testing and perhaps that will shed some light.


When the weather flips suddenly from cold and rainy (we had to turn on the heat last Friday!) to hot and humid (more like what we expect in August), it makes watering difficult.

On the one hand, plants like tomatoes enjoy the warmth but they do not like to be overwatered.  At the other end of the spectrum, lettuces prefer moist conditions but will wither in the heat.

It reminds me that I have to pay close attention.  Automatic watering will probably not be sufficient and manual irrigation—the good old watering can—might be needed.

According to most of what I’ve read, it is very easy to overwater plants.  In fact, the gardening book we’ve been turning to most often this year claims that overwatering is the number one cause of seedling failure.  Damping off and other diseases are abetted by an abundance of moisture.

So I’ve been very careful not to overdo it.  I’ve been using a spray bottle to water the seedlings (so as not to disturb them or the soil) and have been waiting until the surface has become dry (but not arid) before watering again.  For the seeds that have sprouted, I have removed the clear plastic lids to keep the humidity low.

But I suppose it is possible to err in the other direction.  This morning when I checked on the seedlings, they looked to be ever-so-slightly shriveled (not usually a good sign) and a few of the leaves have developed brown spots.  When I felt the soil surface, I could see that in some of the seed compartments, the soil had contracted a bit.  Apparently, I waited a day too long.

I gave everything a thorough watering (not the squashes and cucumbers which are still covered) and hope that the seedlings will not be permanently affected.  Going forward, I will have to be more vigilant and try to better anticipate the seedlings’ needs for water.