My many experiments in irrigating my garden have proving fruitful.
When I say 'irrigating' I mean keeping the water up to vegetables so that they don't die.
I'm not asking much.
Pursuant of that I've engineered a lot of creative use of mulch. So now -- even though we have seen so little rain for the past two dry months -- I'm still harvesting vegetables.
This year I have been fortunate in that my supply of grass clippings has been good and the garden never ran out of a top bedding of the stuff.
The grass later breaks down and makes and enriches my soil...
Combine that with my heavy papering and burying of branches earlier in the year --mulching with anything I could get -- and I've been able to hold onto more H2O than in past dry spells.
Nonetheless, the garden is still thirsty.
I have a Leeaky hose system embedded as my primary irrigation network but after using it occasionally for the past two years I'm finding that the method doesn't suit my sandy soil nor my erratic lifestyle. I may be able to wet soil when the system is turned on and 'leaking' into the beds -- but when it's not -- and the system isn't in routine use -- the beds dry out and the plants wilt.
So I've tended to rely on hand watering especially as by visiting each plant with a douse from the hose I get to assess its state of health.
I like hand watering. It's my commune-with-nature moment almost on a daily basis.
For some of those places I didn't have the Leeaky system installed I embedded terracotta pots ( I used wine coolers I bought cheap at Op shops).
Then a few months back, as an experiment, I moved my coolers/pots to four of my primary beds, placed them closer together and made sure I keep them topped up with water.
I also stopped using the Leeaky system to irrigate these beds.I only hand watered them as required and topped up the pots.
The results were impressive. Plant growth was better in these pot watered beds than in others.
If you do your homework, the stats for Unglazed Pot Irrigation are impressive. Water savings of 50-70% is a feasible option.
So with that experience behind me, I've decided to convert my garden to clay pot irrigation.
From one of the major hardware chains I've purchased 19 cm terracotta pots for $2 each. I plugged the drainage holes by gluing tile offcuts to the pot base. At the local tip I got white tiles to sit across the pot rim. (My wife does mosaics and there are always plenty of tiles to hand).
The whiteness of the tile gloss reflects heat away from the pot surface and the slight over hang shades the pot and soil underneath. Tiles are also heavier than plates and bigger tiles are more difficult for crows and other inquisitive or cumbersome critters to shift to the side or flip.
There are any number of online DIY methods to create these 'Ollas' but I've opted for simple + easy + cheap.
Each pot holds 2.5 litres of water which is a generous aquatic reserve every few centimetres. While there is literature on how best to distance the pots from one another -- I've opted to position and bury by experimentation and impulse. The pots are so cheap to buy and adapt to irrigation purposes that I should be able to saturate my beds as I see fit. They're also like caravans: you can move 'em about.
Remember I don't mind hand watering so I don't mind the business of having to top up 30, 40 or whatever number of pots as a gardening task. And by hand watering I'm also very conscious of how much water I'm using to keep the garden productive.
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