"We water the soil, not the plants" is what I heard at least 3 times from my farm host before I actually committed it to memory. I'd never really known whether to water a plant or the soil, nor had I asked. What I was doing was watering the garden beds from a greater height, leaving the water to fall all over the leaves of the plants. This, I've since learned, can harm their leaves, since water + sunlight = burn. What a "duh" moment for me, and there were more...
Lesson #1: Water the soil, not the plants. Sure, plants need water to grow, but growth can only happen if the soil is nurtured by it in the first place.
Lesson #2: Adding compost then mulch to the top of the soil can help it retain water. Depending on the level of dry heat and sunlight a garden bed receives, this process can cut watering in half, or more, leaving you to have to water your beds only once every 2-3 days instead of twice a day (once in the morning before the sun and once in the evening after the sun).
Lesson #3: Young plants need more water than mature ones do. This is the exception to the 2nd lesson, since young plants don't have strong enough root systems to pick up the resources they need from the surrounding soil. They also don't have as much ground cover from matured branches and leaves to allow the soil to be shaded, protecting it from drying out after constant sunlight exposure.
I can't believe how little I knew about farming and gardening in general when I arrived here in Summerland 3+ weeks ago. Something as simple as watering plants properly was not something I knew or appreciated. Baby steps.
In a place like Summerland, being in the dry summer interior of British Columbia, watering never ends. I'm on a farm with 5 acres of land, about half of which has plants and trees. We water every day. As the summer temperatures rise and rain stays at bay, protecting the soil from drying out is a must. We mulched all the trees and garden beds in the past week to prepare for the heat wave we're now experiencing. It has helped to lessen the amount of watering required, but it still doesn't compare to the abundance of water used on a daily basis. Of course, now I'm freaking out about how much water is required to grow fruits and vegetables. It's insane.
Lesson #4: Be mindful of the amount of water you're using in every day life. You are just one small ant among 7 billion others who need it to live. Then there's the plants, who actually come first because without them we can't survive. Think about it.