Our Plants Need Water. But knowing how much they need and when they need it can be tricky. The best guide for when to water our gardens and our crops is based on soil moisture. If we can check the relative moisture of the soil, we’ll know exactly when to water and how much to water with. In this article, we’ll learn 3 different ways to check soil moisture levels.
The question I most often get is when do I water my plants and ironically it’s a question that can’t be answered. There just isn’t one single universal watering schedule.
Due to differences in climate, soil types, local weather, and a zillion other factors that are unique to each of our growing situations.
So the issue of when to water your plants simply comes down to when they need it. Ideally, we want to water about a day or so before the plants begin to flag or wilt.
Obviously, that’s not something that we can know ahead of time so the next best way to predict when to water is to check the soil moisture and the fastest, simplest way to do that is the finger test.
3 Simple ways to check soil moisture
1. Finger test
Just as it sounds remove the mulch from the area you want to test and poke your finger down two to three inches. Basically just above your knuckle.
If the soil feels dry and your finger comes out clean it’s probably time to water. This is the simplest and most rudimentary way to test.
2. The stick method
Another way to test is the popsicle or bamboo stick method. In the same fashion remove the mulch from the area you want to test and stick the stick down three to five inches.
Leave it there for about 30 seconds then remove it slowly. Moist soil is gonna result in bits of dirt clinging to the stick as well as the stick itself being discolored where it’s come into contact with moisture.
A clean non-discolored stick means dry soil and that you should probably water sooner than later.
3. Soil moisture meter
And finally, we have a bit more of a scientific approach and that’s an actual water meter. They only run about ten dollars online and I find them to be mostly accurate. Do Ensure that the prongs are cleaned every time you use them, both for best results and for product longevity.
For veggies, we’re aiming for the 40 to 80 range of moisture which will be marked by the green safe zone on the meter itself.
These three methods take the guesswork out of watering, making your gardening life easier in the process. Thanks for reading guys.
FAQs on how to check soil moisture
How do I know if my soil is dry or moist?
Insert a trowel into the soil and tilt it to examine the moisture level of garden plants. To evaluate the depth of soil moisture, stick a wooden dowel into the soil. The soil is dry if the dowel comes out cleanly.
How do you check soil moisture with a screwdriver?
Insert an 8-inch screwdriver into the ground. You don’t need to water it if you can push it in more than three inches below the surface.
How do you measure soil moisture in pots?
Put your fingertip into the ground up to your first knuckle. Water if the top inch to inch and a half of soil is dry. The finger test works best with plants in medium-sized pots.
Which are direct methods of soil moisture estimation?
A soil sample is dried and the weight difference between the dry and wet samples is measured as part of the gravimetric method, also known as the drying method, to determine the moisture content. While primarily being advised for experimental work, this methodology is accurate and dependable.
How long should soil stay moist after watering?
After watering, the soil should remain moist for 2 to 4 hours. The soil should then feel moist to the touch after that, which is also reflected in its darker color, which often persists for more than 24 hours.
How do you keep the soil moist but not wet?
Put a layer of organic material, such as straw, leaves, shredded paper or cardboard, or bark, over your soil. The soil temperature will be regulated, runoff and evaporation will be prevented, and moisture will be retained for longer intervals between waterings.
What is a good soil moisture percentage?
It is important to know that all vegetables require soil moisture levels between 41 percent and 80 percent, whereas the majority of flowers, trees, and shrubs require moisture levels between 21 percent and 40 percent. NOTE: The ideal soil moisture range for vegetables is between 41 and 80 percent.
Are moisture meters accurate?
When used on the appropriate material, a high-quality moisture meter can measure the material’s moisture content by weight to an accuracy of less than 0.1 percent. However, a cheap moisture meter could be dramatically off.