Lack of rain while new plants are becoming established — during bloom and harvest and during late summer and fall when fruit buds are forming — can reduce the quantity and quality of fruit. For optimal growth, most small fruits require at least one inch of water per week during the growing season. Irrigation to supplement rainfall to this level is especially important for soils subject to drought, such as sandy soils, or soils with a shallow hardpan that restrict the development of a deep-root system.
If possible, locate the small fruit garden where water is readily available for irrigation. Sprinklers, porous soaking hoses, and drip or trickle hoses are suitable for applying water. Irrigate to thoroughly wet the soil to the depth of the roots, at least six inches. Shallow watering to a depth of only one to three inches encourages shallow root growth and is of little value (and may even be harmful) to long-term plant survival.