Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to Water Your Garden While Cooking Dinner II

In my last post I told you how to assemble and use a simple inexpensive watering system.  Now I will describe how to dress up your system.

Just to reiterate, you now have a 8'-10' length of 1/2" soaker hose attached to your garden hose.  You arrange that soaker hose in your beds and around bushes and trees.  You then turn on your spigot at a low pressure, set a timer to sound an alarm in one hour and you attend to other chores until the alarm sounds.  At that time you move the soaker hose to a different bed, bush or tree and repeat until all of your plants are watered sufficiently.

Here are some other attachments you may add to your system to make your work even easier (you know the adage, "Work smarter, not harder").

First off there are longer lengths of soaker hose that you can cut into custom lengths that will fit your beds or around your bushes and trees.  These lengths of soaker hose can be attached either using male and female hose ends or by hose repair couplings.  You may also need some lengths of regular 1/2" garden hose.  If you will be using the longer lengths of soaker hose, adding valves is a good idea.

Start by purchasing a gang valve with four outlets.  Each outlet will have a dedicated valve.  You can now have four discrete watering systems.  I suggest one be dedicated to your garden hose which you will use for washing the patio, filling your bird baths, watering hanging pots and other purposes.  The next valve will go to one bed or the first plant in a longer line of plants.  The third and fourth will follow, likewise.

You may also want to add valves along a long run to turn off a bed that has plantings that may not need as much water as those in the beginning of the run.  My vegetable square foot garden tends to get excessively wet, because of the way I built the bed.  So, I have a valve to turn off or restrict the water going to my square foot garden.

Then there is the addition of a timer.  Timers are available as either wind-up mechanical or battery operated digital.  The mechanical is less costly.  I had a mechanical timer and I liked using it but it broke a few years ago and I haven't replaced it.  I guess I really don't need it.  The timer and alarm works better for me.  If the water timer goes off and I don't realize it, I may not get back outside to turn it on for another leg of my system.

I may have gotten too involved with this whole soaker hose system, but I like it.  I will add in some photos and captions below to try and illustrate.

In my next post I will describe another system without using the gang valve which uses more labor but, it may be the system for your needs.

This is the spigot that supplies the water to my backyard soaker hose system.  You can see the 4 valve gang unit on the ground to the right and a Y splitter on the left.  The splitter on the left supplies water to the left side of the bed that runs the width of the house or a long run to five bushes and a bed around a tree 30 some feet from the spigot.  I have a sheet of plastic under the bed by the house to try and keep water from entering the basement and that bed can get oversaturated quickly.  That is why I have the valve there.
This is a close-up of my 4 valve gang unit.  As you can see I have only one original threaded hose end on any of the hoses going to or from the gang unit.  If you look closely you will see that only one valve of the four is on and that one goes to the beds that run behind my patio and to the vegetable square foot garden.
I hope you are able to see the green hose with a yellow mender running to my lacecap hydrangea.  That run then continues to a rhododendron and a bed that circles a Norway Maple.  I just finished running the hoses this spring and didn't have time to cover them with soil or mulch.
This is the continuation of that run from the house to my Sambucus nigra-black lace, Clethra alnifolia-summersweet, Cercis canadensis-redbud, Hydrangea macrophlla normalis-lacecap, Rhododendron & a bed around a mature  Acer saccharinum-silver maple and both hosta and hemerocallis of unknown varieties

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