Watering can be tricky, whether in the greenhouse, in the home, or just outdoors. Sometimes, I find myself shaking my head, at my brown, and withering plants, and trying to decide if I have watered too much, not enough, or if there is some other unforeseen problem. Here are a few pointers, that should help you to be more knowledgeable about watering effectively.
Symptoms of over watering include bluish-green mold growth appearing on the soil's surface, sluggish growth, wilting, and yellowing leaves. Concerning yellow leaves, if you see that several leaves in one spot turn yellow and fall off, this is a sign of over watering. However, it can also be caused by air pollution from a heater or cold drafts. If you notice an increase in seedling or plant diseases or if seedlings germinate poorly, this can also be a result of over watering. Roots need air to grow, as well as water. If you crowd the soil with water, you leave no room for air. The roots begin to die. If you have an increased number of slugs to your plants, you are likely over watering.
Now, let us discuss the variables of watering. The more sun plants receive the more water they will need. More venting equals more watering. Plants have varying water requirements, depending on their environment of origin. The age of the plant will also affect the amount of water needed to survive. Seedlings, for example, must never dry out. Just don't over do it. You don't want your seedlings swimming, or smothering in mud. Sandy or well drained soils will require more frequent watering than clay, or potting, soils.
If you are new to gardening, and unsure of when to water, you are going to like this tip. Remove one inch of soil, from the top, and grab a handful. Form a three inch ball in your fist. Try to toss the ball, from one hand to the other. If the ball is powdery dry and won't form a ball, then water your plants. If the ball falls apart easily when tossed, water your plants. If the ball falls apart, but only after a few hard tosses, ten don't water. Check again, tomorrow. If the ball holds it's shape, don't water today. Come back in a few days.
After you are more a more seasoned gardener, you will be able to look at your plants and know if they need watering or not without a second thought. For now, maybe some of these tips will help you along. Be sure to post your gardening tips here, for others!