Published 17 May, 2018

It’s summer and as it starts heating up, entire families will spend their days in their gardens, relaxing and enjoying the shade or cultivating their tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.

Later, will be the time to eat their produce, enjoying a barbeque with friends y family. Taking care of the garden is a fun hobby in most countries, uniting various generations, dedicated to growing vegetables, while choosing the right fertilizers and protecting their plants from pests. However, there is a factor that usually gets overlooked and never seems to get the attention that it really deserves.

We’re talking about water quality, a fundamental element to determine not only the success of your harvest, but also the health and taste of the produce that we cultivate.

After all, vegetables our made up mostly of water and they accumulate in their interior the quality that they receive. If the water used is contaminated or contains elements that are undesirable for the human body, our fruits and vegetables will be affected, both in quality and taste. It should be vital to irrigate with a good, clean quality water, free of contaminants.

In many cases, water from a well or a canal is used for irrigating a garden. While quality always differs from zone to zone, it’s never advisable to use well water, without a previous water analysis, due to possible presence of bacteria as well as pesticides and herbicides that can come from neighboring farms.

With water from a canal, if it’s close to a road or highway, we can find the presence of motor oils, gasoline and other residues. If the water has not been disinfected, in can turn into a veritable nest of bacteria. Water from the tap will always be more secure, especially from bacteria but it isn’t the best solution either for watering your garden. This due to the presence of CHLORINE. Also, in many arid areas the tap water can be very hard, with large quantities of salts like calcium, sulfates and chlorides.

Let’s look how these different factors affect the water with which you irrigate your garden:


Chlorine is present in all municipal water systems, working as a disinfectant to assure that water is potable for use by local residents. It also works to impede the formation of algae and fungi in the distribution pipes and water storage tanks. In summer, due to high temperatures favoring the growth of bacteria, the municipalities will increase the amount of chlorine added to the water. These greater quantities of chlorine are noted in the smell and taste of your tap water and many people opt not to drink it, using instead bottled water or home filter systems.

Of course, if the water isn’t great for drinking, your plants don’t want to drink it either. Another problem is that while chlorine works to kill off bacteria in your drinking water, it also will kill off beneficial bacteria that are in your soils and that interact with the root systems to promote better absorption of nutrients. The use of organic fertilizers is to increase the potential of these beneficial microorganisms, however, again the chlorine does not discriminate in which bacteria and microorganisms it kills off. So, we see that chlorine neutralizes the positive effects of organic fertilizers, while also burning the plants vitally important uptake roots, limiting the availability of nutrients.

Hard Water

Depending on the region, your local water can be very hard, with high levels of mineral salts such as calcium, magnesium, chlorides and sulfates. These salts increase the electro-conductivity (EC) in the water, which affects your roots absorption capacity. The EC levels that your plants can tolerate has its limits. The higher the quantity of mineral salts dissolved in the water, the less the capacity the roots will have of incorporating the essential nutrients.

We must also keep in mind that an excessively high amount of salts can cause what is known as “Nutrient Lock Out”, which is what happens when the roots are saturated and cannot absorb more nutrients. The salts are embedded in the roots blocking them, a situation that can cause death to the plant. There may also be heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, boron or arsenic in the water, which are toxic not only to plants but to humans.

Better water, better quality

In summary, the goal is to achieve an abundant and healthy harvest, one that is also beneficial for the human body y gives satisfaction to the grower for a job well done. In this sense, controlling the quality of water we use in our gardens gives us better control of our growing process, eliminating unknown variables when troubleshooting problems, while also permitting a better control of the nutrients our plants receive.

The quality of water we use for our plants directly affects their production and their health. If we irrigate with an unknown quality of water, our results will also be unknown. This can affect the taste, smell, look and nutritional value of our what we produce. On the other hand, using good, clean, quality water will permit your plants to correctly absorb the nutrients that you add and will result in more abundant, delicious, healthy and quality fruits and vegetables. If we choose to drink cleaner, healthier water for our own consumption, why not the same for our plants and gardens? There solutions available to achieve better water quality for our plants and gardens, so next time you water, ask yourself: Am I giving my plants the best quality water? And would I drink this same water that I’m giving to my plants?


Leave a Reply