With the arrival of oppressive heat and no rain in sight, it's time to start watering, but it's important to do it the right way. The best time to water is in the morning, this gets the plants ready for the day and also allows the foliage to dry out. Some plants like tomatoes are susceptible to fungal diseases and if the leaves are left wet, fungal spores have an opportunity to attack.
Most plants only need one inch of water per week and that should be applied in one deep soaking at the base of the plant. No reason to waste water on evaporation from the leaves, fungal issues also come into play here too. When things get this hot, I water twice a week.
When watering, soak the plant, this encourages deep root growth. Use the same technique on the lawn. Instead of watering a little bit every morning, use lots of water once or twice a week.
A small tuna type can is perfect to use when watering to figure out when an inch of water is reached.
If the garden isn't mulched, it should be to help keep the plants evenly moist. Mulching also reduces fungal issues as the spores can't splash up onto the foliage of a plant.
There's nothing better than rain water, a rain barrel is easy to install and the Pennsylvania Resources Council offers classes to help. Their rainbarrel workshop give you everything you need except the barrel. It's great way to harvest our most precious natural resource.
Drip irrigation is a great way to water the garden. It's system that's installed at the base of the plants that drips water. Many farms use this type of watering system under a coating of mulch or plastic, but there are systems made specifically for home gardeners too.
Keep your garden watered until the rain comes, and water smart.