I can honestly say I’d never given automatic watering systems a second thought until I started to grow my own tomatoes and courgettes indoors this year. I’ve got six tomato plants and two courgettes which I’ve brought on from seed and they need lots of water (and now that the flowers have started to show, with a high potassium plant food) on a daily basis. Watering my lovely veg plants is one of the first things I do when I get up in the morning so that they are in their best condition for the day. While watering isn’t a task I find particularly arduous, I probably would if I had an entire greenhouse full of plants that needed lots of love and attention. All you need to do is forget to water them for one day, and if it’s a hot one, that may be the end of them….
If that were the case I would definitely consider getting an irrigation system – it means watering would be taken care of and I could spend more time on important tasks like doing the rest f the garden, pruning, staking and propagating. It would also mean I wouldn’t have to worry about asking a friend or neighbour to water my plants when I go on holiday later in the summer.
Most gardeners that grow tomatoes and other thirsty veg will struggle when it comes to taking a holiday. Some venture abroad only in winter, others refuse to leave their precious plants at all. Willing neighbours are worth their weight in gold – but, if you don’t have a reliable helper, technology may well come to your aid!
Soaker and weeper hoses, sprinklers and drippers – all types of automatic watering system – can be placed on a timer so that they switch on and off at the optimum times of the day. This is great if you are off on holiday and want your plants watered at specific times of day, ideally at the start or the end so that the plants don’t get scorched in the sun. Globes and spikes and self-watering planters generally can’t be placed on timers but may come in handy at other times.
By installing an automatic irrigation system that best suits your needs, you will be saving time and money. When you water by hand, statistics say that more than 50 per cent of the water is wasted in runoff and evaporation – so you are saving time and being environmentally efficient by using an irrigation system – that element certainly appeals to me.
But automatic irrigation systems aren’t only for indoor plants and conservatories. They can also be used to water lawns, gardens and flowers – perfect if you’ve just seeded a lawn or planted a new border. Earlier this summer we had a very dry spell after I’d done a fair amount of lawn seeding and I could have done with an irrigation system to keep the seed nice and moist and able to germinate. Instead much of it had to be redone later.
Luckily for us in Scotland, water is free for residential houses but in England and other parts of the world it is chargeable. With an automatic irrigation system there is no money or water wasted – everything is timed, programmed and systems often have rain sensors, so every drop of water is used only when required.
Not all watering systems are the same and knowing your spike from your dripper will help you to select the system that best suits you. For more information about automatic watering systems read this great article.