When, how and why to water.
Watering is a matter of observation. If a plant droops a bit during the day that is OK. If it doesn’t perk up in the cool of the evening when you are out for a stroll it is not.
To combat droopiness, as you can do with people, add water. It is the same for plants and people that too much water will drown them. So how do you know?
As a general rule (weather dependent) a good half hour soak with a sprinkler once a week will do your veggies well. This will allow the water to sink down into the soil and will encourage your plants to put their roots down to where the water is available. If the top of the soil dries out some days, your plants still have access to all the moisture they need to thrive lower in the soil layers. Wonderful.
In contrast watering for a few minutes every day will dampen the top of the soil and your plants will have no reason to put their roots down. Which is fine until you go away for a weekend or miss a few days watering and you garden suffers terribly as the top layer of soil drys out.
Too much water is when the puddles you are making don’t go away after half an hour or so. If the soil feels boggy then this is too much water. Experiment with your garden, different soils carry water differently.
Remember that seeds and seedlings need more regular water than the rest of your garden. The aim is to keep the soil wet but not soggy (like a sponge that has just been wrung out) I try to keep new plantings grouped together in the garden so I can spot water a few rows in each area as they need it.
Try to water early in the morning or in the evening once the heat of the day is less. This means you lose less water to evaporation. At the same time we all have busy lives and watering at any time is better than none at all. I love my garden timers. I have a simple one on each hose outlet. This means once I have picked the salad and veggies for dinner I can easily flick the timer on as I walk back to the house.
Remember that mulch is your friend. Among its many awesome qualities, it keeps evaporation at bay therefore reducing your need to water.