Skip to main content

Water the garden while you're away (2016 update)

This is a method that I use in hot weather so that I don't have to water every day.  With the holiday season coming up, the hardest thing about going on holiday is leaving my garden, particularly in hot weather, as I worry that it will dry out and all my hard work will whither and die.  We pay someone to come and check on the animals, but as we use grey water for the garden, if we're not home, there's no water to use on it (and we're not going to waste our good drinking water!).

Some unusual plants popped up in our garden....



The solution came in a post from Emma at Craving Fresh.  She uses beer bottles full of water and pushed into the soil to keep it moist between watering.  I tried it the first time just before I knew I was going to be away for a few days.  Pete was going to be home, but not sure if he would get time to water, so I placed beer bottles full of water next to my favourite plants, just in case.  It was very hard to choose which plants received a beer bottle though, they are all so precious!  I set it up a couple of days before I went away so I could see how much water was used.  Some bottles were almost full the next day and others had drained a few centimeters.  I guess it just depends on the soil drainage.  I would recommend doing a trial run so you can assess your soil and see how the plants cope.

Since I first tried this method, I have found that its also useful for reducing the frequency of watering.  I can set this up as I'm watering one day, and then I don't have to come back and water for a few days as they plants are recieving a drip-feed of water from the bottles.  I have a stockpile of bottles as you can reuse them for a long time.  I place them around any new seedlings to make sure that they have moist soil as they are getting started.  I find that glass beer bottles work better than plastic as they are rigid, so the sides don't suck in at the water drains, this make them slower to drain (comparing pouring from a plastic bottle vs a glass bottle if they are both turned upside down, the bottle needs to gulp air to release the vacuum as the water leaves the bottle, the plastic bottle will empty more quickly).

How do you manage your garden while you're away?



Comments

  1. Good idea! I could see my hubby going for this one - an excuse to drink some beer (like he needs an excuse) and then he lends me the bottles. Win-win!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tried to leave a comment here yesterday but it disappeared??!! Anyways, I was saying the beer bottles are a good idea. You can buy those screw in devices to attach soft drink sized bottles to as well, which hold more water?

    Our wicking beds will be OK when we go away, as they have a good reservoir & we will fill them before we go. Might add shadecloth over some garden beds, and have been wanting drip irrigation for ages, so might finally have to get on to that one (we have the piping/ attachments & even a timer from the previous owners and when we get back, we can hook it up to rainwater tank instead). Our neighbour will come water for us, and hopefully harvest stuff to stop any rotting fruit/ veg piling up (he can take the produce home too!)

    It would be a shame to lose all our hard work for the season so far, for one hot week in peak season, wouldn't!! Good luck...

    ReplyDelete
  3. My husband was also very keen to do his part when I told him I needed beer bottles for the garden!

    I'm going to be filling all the beer bottles up and placing them strategically around the place before we go on holiday. Hopefully it will be enough to tide the plants over, with a good spread of pea straw to help retain moisture in the soil.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is such a great tip We are going away for a week over Xmas so will give this a try in a few spots.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Let me know how you go everyone! I'd like to know if it works for you and any other tips you have from your own experience. Dixiebelle is right, there are other bottle options, but I liked beer bottle idea because we had lots of beer bottles (well enough anyway, don't want to sound like a drunk). Also because its a rigid bottle, the water drains out slower (a flexible bottle is able to compress as the water drains, the rigid bottle needs to wait for the air to break the vacuum, sorry to get all engineering on you). Soft drink bottles would provide more water, but we don't drink soft drink, so its hard to get the bottles!

    ReplyDelete
  6. have had an hypersensitivity to one system or any other sooner or later in their lives. The inclusion of allergens in creams, lotions and other cosmetics is not unusual. it's now not a very good practice. it's simply commercial enterprise as standard. There are few policies regarding what ingredients can and can't be protected in skincare products.For more ==== >>>>>> http://guidemesupplements.com/dermessence/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Liz, I have used plastic bottles but did not realise glass bottles released the water more slowly. I am currently trialing mixing coconut fibre - coir - into my mulch to see if this helps with retaining surface soil moisture. The coir holds water for longer and I mix it through my back fill soil when I am planting but this month has been the first time I have mixed the coir with mulch products.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very clever. We definitely need some solutions for our hot dry spells. I will give this a try.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have a little system I'm trialling at the moment, for setting up trees when first planted. I imagine it would work in a vegetable garden too. I'll write about it on my blog, one of these days. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Liz, thanks for the great tips, such an awesome idea. I was just wondering, sorry to sound a little behind here, but do you replace the bottle top and pierce it so the water can drip out or just leave it off altogether?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, good question! I take off the lid and jam the bottle quickly into the soil so that it forms a plug and can only drip out slowly. But if that didn't work for you, your suggestion of using the caps would also work :)

      Delete

Post a Comment

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

We don't have any cling wrap either

Last week I wrote about how we don't have a microwave and I really don't miss it.  So continuing the theme of "weird things about my kitchen", we also don't have any plastic cling wrap or paper towels.  And we haven't had them for so long I can hardly remember why we ever needed them.


I always thought that cling wrap was wasteful.  Not just from an environmental perspective, but I also didn't like spending money on something that I only used once.  When I was at uni and took sandwiches for lunch, I used to bring home the cling wrap and use it again until it didn't stick anymore.  One year when we did Plastic Free July (I can't remember when exactly - here's what I wrote last year) we decided to stop using cling wrap.  I used up the last of it recently when we were painting (its really hard to renovate without creating waste) - its handy for wrapping up paintbrushes and sealing paint temporarily, however I do not use it in the kitchen.

The pape…

Getting started with chickens - Tanya from Lovely Greens

Sign up for my weekly email updates here, you will find out more about soap and our farmlife, straight to your inbox, never miss a post!  New soap website and shop opening soon....

Farmer Liz: You will remember Tanya from Lovely Greens from the first series, she lives on the Isle of Mann and added chickens to her garden about a year ago.  You can leave comments for this post on Tanya's blog.



How many chickens (and other fowl) do you keep, what breed and what do you use them for (meat, eggs, slug control etc)?
Tanya: Around the same time that we were initially thinking about having hens another friend beat us to the punch. She went to the local pet store and bought a flat-pack hen house and chicken run combo and found a local farmer who had dozens of semi-feral chickens running around his property. One night he pulled three down from the trees and my friend took them home in a pet carrier. She named them Miracel, Carmen, and Geraldine and though they’re probably related they were all…