Let's Talk Irrigation
By LMG Calla Victoria
As it has been so hot and dry for the past couple of weeks, hydrating our gardens has become a daunting task. There are several suggestions that can make our lives easy. If you have an installed irrigation system, problem solved. But for everyone else I have a few great tips because avid gardeners would prefer working in the garden rather than watering it.
First and foremost set up a rain catchment system. Do you know that a one-inch rainfall will collect 600 gallons of rainwater from a 1,000 square foot roof? Now that is a serious amount of FREE water you are allowing to escape. Rain barrels are reasonable and easy to install, also you can make our own. Basically you place the rain barrels under your downspouts and they catch the water that runs off your roof. You can find numerous “how to” videos on You- Tube. Using rainwater will save on your water bill and the rainwater has all of the minerals that plants need to grow, minerals that are extracted from tap water so that it is palatable for us.
Rainwater is great, but when there is no rain, what is a gardener to do? You can create your own irrigation system quite inexpensively. Consider purchasing a watering hose timer, they range from $20 and up, depending on the technology. Purchase soaker hoses, they are 50 feet in length and cost $8 each. Buy as many as you will need to cover your garden beds. Lay the soakers throughout your garden beds, circling those plants that are heavy feeders.
Soaker hoses are great because they sweat and don't sprinkle so they water the roots of the plants only. There is no extraneous water loss as with sprinklers where the water sprays all over the place including the walkways.
Once the soaker hoses are laid in your garden beds cover them with mulch. Then set the timer for the watering sequence; every day, or every other day, for thirty minutes or one hour, starting time, etc. Connect the timer to the water faucet, connect the soaker hoses to the timer and turn the water on, now you are all set.
You can buy timers that have several hose ports for a pretty penny, or you can buy a timer with a single hose port and purchase a splitter that will convert your single port timer to a multi-port timer for just a few bucks. Some timers are so sophisticated that they monitor rain fall amounts and will not come on if it is raining or has recently rained. Cheaper timers do have a “manual” button and can be turned off in the case of rain.
Another cost-effective option for irritating your garden is by utilizing gray water to hydrate your garden. Gray water is also quite valuable in drought conditions. Gray water is water from your zinc, tub, and shower. Imagine how much water goes down the drain that could be used in your garden. Let’s not forget how much water we allow to go down the drain just waiting for the shower to get hot. Consider placing a bucket in the shower to catch that water, then toss it in your garden beds. The traces of soap and detergent in graywater will not harm your plants. If you enjoy a long soak in a bubble bath, you can use that bath water in your garden. Think of how many gallons of water are just going down the drain after you bath. As long as you do not use any type of oil in the bath water, gray water from your bath is fine. Only use bubble bath, shampoo, or Epsom Salt in the bath water if you wish to use it in your garden. Also, after boiling pasta or steaming veggies let the water cool and toss it in the garden.
Also if you have an air-conditioning window unit, place plants under the unit to capture the runoff water. With central-air units you can place an extender at the end of the water release hose and direct that water into the garden. But disconnect the extender hose if you decide to flush out your system. If you are running the air conditioner that means it is hot, and there is always that water runoff from cooling the air. So why not make use of that, otherwise wasted water thereby saving on your water bill because your electric bill is going to be sky high.
The use of gray water is a vital option in drought-prone states like California and Colorado where they are subject to watering restrictions allowing watering only several days a week. And get this, in Colorado it is illegal to have a rain catchment system....why?
This article is printed in the August 15, 2015 edition of Data News Weekly.
Remember, never get too busy to stop and enjoy the beautiful flowers!