How to water veggies without wasting

Vegetables need regular watering, because drought-stressed vegetables don’t produce good-quality fruit or tasty leaves. They are also more susceptible to pests. But what’s to be done during the hottest months, especially if water restrictions are applied?

Root-level watering

Vegetables like tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers, brinjals and squashes have deeper and wider roots than leafy crops. They need water to reach their roots, and by making it available directly at root level, instead of from the surface downwards, less water is lost through evaporation or run-off.

  • Take a 2-litre plastic cooldrink bottle and cut off the base.
  • Dig a hole next to the plant, down to root level.
  • Remove the cap and position the bottle neck downwards.
  • Fill in with soil so that the bottle is How to water veggies without wasting firmly in place. The bottle should be buried half-way or a bit deeper. To water the plant, just fill the bottle and the water will go directly to the roots.

This makes watering easy with a watering can or bucket. For larger plants, place a two-litre plastic bottle on either side of the plant to provide ample water.

Making an eco-circle is an option for more shallow-rooted veggies.

  • Dig a circular bed 1m in diameter and sink a 20cm plant pot (with drainage holes) in the centre.
  • Plant the vegetables around the pot, 10 – 15cm from the pot.
  • Water the veggies by filling the pot with water, which will drain out at root level.

In both cases, a light mulch (only 1 – 2cm deep) on the surface of the soil will help to shade the roots and keep them cool.

The Gardener