Our rule of thumb for watering our raised bed gardens is one inch per week. You can monitor the rainfall in your garden with a simple rain gauge which can be purchased at a hardware store or garden center.
Many plants are more susceptible to disease as a result of overhead watering, so it is important to water at the base of the plant or find another way to keep water off the leaves.
One of our favorite tomato watering tools is the AquaCone Watering Device. This is a great way to deeply water thirsty plants, as it targets each plant’s root system to get the water where the plant needs it. This method of watering also helps keep water off the leaves of the plants, which will help reduce plant disease. Aquacones are also a great way to get compost tea (a liquid form of compost) or fertilizer near the plant’s roots for a mid-season nutrient boost.
A favorite tool of many organic gardeners are Soaker Hoses, which are hoses with tiny holes that allow water to drip out. They can be woven through a garden and/or placed underneath mulch to conserve water. This is another tool for keeping water off of plant leaves.
Rain water is generally better for plants than water from a hose because it is not chemically treated and often is much warmer. Warm water is essential for proper root development in plants. Cold water from a hose, in contrast, prohibits root development.
Barrels come in two main styles:
- Traditional – large barrels that collect 50-gallons and 75-gallons
of rain water.
- Urns – stylish alternatives to the traditional rain barrel. These usually come in 50 Gallon and 65 Gallons
Some municipalities, like the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District offer rain barrels recycled from food barrels at a third of the price of typical rain barrel. You can also find them at most large hardware stores.
Probably one of the coolest tools for rain barrel owners is the Downspout Diverter, which handles overflow from your downspouts automatically when your barrel has filled up.
Some barrels, such as the Fiskars Rain Barrel that we own, come with a downspout diverter.