The Garden at 485 Elm
People growing together:
a collaborative community garden in Montpelier, Vermont

Water, water, everywhere. Please.

Watering corn on August 30, the dry season.

Watering corn on August 30, the dry season.

This is the dry season. We don’t have sagebrush rolling past cacti, but our plants are parched.

Cindy, our garden coordinator, runs a watering-intensive garden. Sometimes there are protests: The plants will drown; it’s not necessary; mulch will reduce the watering needs; etc. But Cindy’s gardens have always been lush and productive. She designs for maximum output with minimum labor.

So we water this garden like it’s a rainforest. Well, we try. We have a deep well with two hoses running from it. That way the plants benefit from the nutrients in groundwater instead of our municipal house water filtered through charcoal. It’s just a matter getting out there and wielding those hoses.

Without sufficient water, the plants will stop producing food and die. Our first pea planting died due to lack of water and not enough picking.

So we water thoroughly. That means holding the hose at the base of each plant, watering the roots instead of the leaves. We stay with each plant until the soil is saturated down to the roots. The larger the plant, the larger the roots – and the more water is needed.

Albert, one of the gardeners here, taught us, “One, two, three, shiny!” That means after moving the hose (or watering can) away from the plant, the earth around the plant should stay shiny with water for a slow count of, “One, two, three, shiny!”

Albert said he learned that method for testing sufficient soil saturation when watering from John Jeavons, a leader in biointensive agriculture techniques.

Cindy figured out it takes an average of an hour to water one of our full-sized garden beds. It takes seven to eight hours to water the entire garden.