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

“Water the earth, not the air”

“Water roots, not leaves.”

“Water the earth, not the air. “

These are some of the many lessons we learned from our first garden coordinator in 2014. Here are scenes from this year’s watering orientation.

Chris shows Meredith where watering begins: Getting a moisture meter from the garden shed, and using it to determine if a bed needs irrigation.

Chris’s finger shows the very tip of the moisture meter, the part that does the soil moisture measuring. Place the meter into the soil just as deeply as the roots of the plants being watered. Lettuces will be shallower, carrots deeper.

Turn on the well pump by pulling the blue handle all the way up.

Then open the water valve by turning it parallel to the hose.

Go into the garden and open the black hose valve, turning it parallel to the hose.

Unwind the hose so it’s easier to move around. Be very, very careful not to drag hose over the planting rows to avoid dislodging seeds and crushing plants.

Set the hose nozzle onto Soft Wash. This gives seeds and seedlings a gentle rain.

Hold the nozzle right over the area being watered. This is where “Water the earth, not the air” becomes gospel.


Meredith watered all the greens beds, two rows of peas, and a row of carrots.

Then turn everything off in the same order that it went on: First pull the large blue pump handle down. Then open one of the pump nozzles that has no hose attached to drain the water then close it again. Then turn the garden hose valve back to horizontal (perpendicular to the hose) to close it as well. Finally, head back into the garden and turn off the hose valve there. Drain the hose from the hose head.