Getting to the root of watering the vegetable garden

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Spacing out five-gallon buckets allows water to seep through holes and get to the root systems of neighboring plants. Photo by Yvonne Savio.

Noted horticulturist Yvonne Savio specializes in drought-tolerant techniques for maintaining gardens. She says the biggest mistake gardeners make is not anticipating the heat and high temperatures ahead of time, and not understanding how deep the roots of plants grow.  

“The real trick is to teach the plants to grow deeply in chasing the water, rather than just giving them a sprinkle every day,” Savio says. “It makes you feel better but it doesn’t help the plants a whole lot.” Techniques for getting water to the root systems without flooding the garden include recycling the five-gallon containers that nursery plants come in. Savio buries the buckets half way into the soil between plants. Water comes directly to the root systems of neighboring plants when the bucket is filled. Additionally, she puts a single shovel of manure or compost into the bin which further provides nutrients. Getting to the root systems results in the plants’ ability to withstand higher temperatures.




Evan Kleiman