You must emulate rainfall as much as possible when watering garden beds and flats. An interesting process happens during rainfall. Rainfall absorbs beneficial nutrients and air that helps the plants growth process. Watering your garden beds and flats by hand using a water fan is the best way to emulate the benefits of rainfall.
When you are watering your garden beds, emulate rainfall by spraying the water into the air and letting it fall down like rain. This approach to watering your garden beds compacts the soil less. Plus the plants are not hit by a hard water spray.
Most vegetable garden plants love to have their leaves washed and others such as squash and tomatoes, prefer not to in humid and foggy areas. In cases where you should not wet the leaves, gently water the soil around the plants. In my Southern California climate, where the humidity is low, I can wet the leaves of all plants and have had no problems.
It’s important to water your garden beds each day to keep them evenly moist. Also, daily watering washes the dust and insects from the plants and creates a moist microclimate that enhances both plant growth and microbial soil life.
Seeds, seedlings, and newly transplanted plants may have to be watered in the morning, noon, and late afternoon. Until the living microclimate mulch develops, these plants will dry out more quickly. As the plants mature, less watering will be required.
You should water until you have a ½ to 15 second water “shiny.” When you first start watering a shiny layer of water appears on the surface of the soil. When you stop watering, the shiny should disappear in ½ to 15 seconds. This duration will change depending on your soil texture. The more clayey the soil texture that longer the shiny will remain. A newly prepared clayey bed may only require 3 to 5 seconds of shiny since a clayey soil retains more moisture and allows less water in. As the bed matures, the shiny time will increase due to compaction. What I’ve realized is this watering process has become intuitive for me over time, and now I don’t have to think much about it. Watering is my favorite time in my organic vegetable garden.
The best time when watering garden beds is late afternoon, about 2 hours before sunset. Depending on cloud cover, watering may be earlier in the day.