May Garden Corner: When to Water and Harvest

Posted by on May 6, 2015 | Comments Off on May Garden Corner: When to Water and Harvest

May Garden Corner: When to Water and Harvest

We all know that gardening is not an exact science. The methods are not set in stone and things hardly ever really go according to plan. Schedules get in the way of weeding and sometimes those seeds go in the ground a week after you wanted them to. That being said, there are some things in gardening where timing really is everything – watering and harvesting are two of them.

Let’s start with watering…

The best time of day to water outside plants is in the early morning.

You do not want to water during the high heat of the day – not only will that cause water loss through evaporation but may also damage the health of your plants. There are several reasons for why this is the case. First, plants need water to make it through the high heat of the day – high noon is their prime photosynthesizing time so you definitely don’t want their big, beautiful, sunlight absorbing leaves stressed and drooping because they don’t have enough water. Furthermore, watering your plants during the full sun of the day may actually “burn” them! I know this must sound silly…”Watering my plants will burn them? What??” It’s true, though. Think about how much more of a suntan you get when you’re in the water at the beach. Water droplets magnify solar intensity (i.e. sunlight) and can burn your plants when the sun is high in the sky.

If need be, you can also water during the evening near sunset, however if you do that, make sure to water early enough that the leaves of the plants will become completely dry before nightfall – this is to minimize the risk of rot and fungal infections that can result from leaves and roots being left moist overnight.

Also to keep in mind when watering: be patient and don’t water too often. Give your plants a good soak. Deeper and less frequent watering helps to encourage plants to develop strong root systems.

Now for harvesting…

harvest on stumps panel





No surprise there – the best time of day to harvest your crops is in the early morning.

Timing is as or even more important for harvesting your plants as it is for watering them. With very few exceptions, vegetables and fruits are best harvested in the cool hours of the early morning – this ensures that they stay crisp and store for longer because they’re still holding the coolness and moisture from the previous night. If they are harvested during the later hours of the day, they have lost much of their moisture content to the heat of the day and will become limp and wilt quickly. It is especially important to harvest delicate vegetables such as peas, leafy herbs, lettuce, chard, and other greens in the morning, as these vegetables are more susceptible to wilting.

If you are not able to harvest in the morning, do so in the evening after the heat of the day has started to subside. Vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, zucchinis, and other squashes are less sensitive to wilting and can be harvested at other times of day.