Most annuals, bulbs and vegetable crops need continuous moisture at root level from planting time onwards right through their active growing season. Not many plants will tolerate dry soil conditions for any length of time.
They also do not like being waterlogged at any level. The answer is a well-drained soil and generous deep watering at regular intervals so that the roots may drink continually. You will be rewarded by spectacular performance.
With potted plants too, it is often difficult to judge whether the soil in the pot has the correct moisture content. Not too dry - not too wet. This probe takes the guesswork out of watering. A day or two after deep watering, test the moisture content of the soil at root level. As soon as a reading of 2 or below is indicated, it’s time for more watering.
If a reading of between 3 and 7 is obtained, the moisture content is correct and watering should be delayed. Unless you have just watered, a reading of 8 indicates that the soil is too wet.
The ideal garden loam consists of about equal parts sand, clay and organic matter for improved texture and drainage. Good drainage ensures that the water may reach root level easily and sink in beyond it so that the soil remains aerated and does not become waterlogged.
You may, if you wish, pamper your plants even further by providing a mulch of about 3cm on top of the soil (like a blanket) to help retain moisture and keep the soil temperature more even.
- Regular readings of 1 or 2 indicate conditions too dry for most plants.
- Regular readings of 7 or 8 indicate too wet for most plants.