The severe drought in California and throughout most of the West and Midwest has made water conservation a major priority this summer. But even in areas where drought is not currently an issue, it makes sense to treat water as the precious commodity that it is.
Water conservation is especially important during the summer months, because summer is the peak season for residential water use. In urban and suburban areas, outdoor irrigation accounts for more than 50% percent of the total water used during the summer.
Some of the most common and easiest water conservation tips include:
· Don’t let the hose run unattended
· Use a rain barrel to collect rainwater flowing from a roof or gutter
· Water outdoors during the cooler parts of the day—early morning and early evening
· Choose plants that don’t require as much additional water
· Add mulch around plants in flower beds and vegetable gardens
Here are some additional ways to save water in the garden this summer:
Ancient irrigation method saves water and keeps plants happy
Good soil and consistent watering are critical to successful vegetable gardening. But regular watering is a challenge for new and veteran gardeners as they contend with busy schedules and community watering restrictions. An ancient watering technique that uses clay pots called ollas has recently been rediscovered as an easy and efficient way to keep garden plants happily watered.
An olla (pronounced oi-ya) is an unglazed clay pot that is buried in the ground up to the neck and filled with water. A large olla holds two gallons of water, and the water is gently pulled through the organic clay olla and into the surrounding soil by soil moisture tension. The result is slow, even watering the helps plant roots stay moist. Ollas can be used in the ground, in raised beds and in large containers to provide controlled irrigation to surrounding plants. Not only do plants thrive because they stay evenly watered, but olla irrigation can save up to 70% of the water used in traditional spray watering since no water is lost due to evaporation or run-off. Ollas are especially useful in arid climates, but they can be used any time a steady and efficient water source is needed. Once in place, an olla will typically require filling two or three times a week depending on weather and soil conditions. Olla watering leaves the soil surface dry—resulting in fewer weeds and no soil compaction.
An olla made by Dripping Springs Ollas sells for about $40 and is available at Whole Foods markets and independent garden centers. For more information visit www.DrippingSpringsOllas.com or call 512-227-4048.
Irrigation mats save water and increase garden yields
Professional growers combine drip irrigation and plastic mulch to give plants what they need: warm, protected topsoil, efficient watering and a virtually weed-free environment. They get a bigger harvest with less effort. Flora-Flow™ irrigation mats now bring this proven technology to home gardeners.
Flora-Flow™ All-in-One Mats are easy to use because the irrigation line is bonded to the mulch—enabling installation of both at the same time. The mulch features easy tear-out 2 inch diameter planting holes every 6” inches for rapid planting at 6, 12, 18 and/or 24 inches apart. Also, plant labels printed right on the mulch produce an orderly garden without measuring. As a result, Flora-Flow™ All-in-One Mats offer weed and water control, large and early harvests, and orderly plantings in one package.
Installation is simple: just bury or weigh down the mat edges to resist wind, connect the fittings to a hose, remove planting holes and plant. The 8-foot-long “3 Minute-a-Day” version of the mat includes all connectors pre-assembled. Available longer rolls can be cut to length for use with connector kits or standard irrigation fittings. All mats are 4 feet wide and are available with red and black mulch.
The complete Flora-Flow™ 3 Minute-a-Day Mat in black sells for $18.95 from Harris Seeds, www.HarrisSeeds.com or 800-544-7938. Wholesale inquiries are welcome—contact the Ken-Bar Company, 800-336-8882 or www.ken-bar.com, for more information.
Solar-powered controller automatically waters plants
Keeping plants properly watered—not too wet or too dry—is essential for growing healthy plants. But with busy modern schedules and changing weather patterns, it’s not always easy to remember to water—or know when it is time to water. The Ancnoble Irrigation Controller uses a moisture sensor to control when plants are watered. When the soil is dry, the moisture sensor triggers the controller to start irrigation. Then, when the moisture sensor detects sufficient moisture in the soil, the controller shuts the water off. The Ancnoble Irrigation Controller comes complete with a controller, moisture sensor, solar panel, four rechargeable batteries, and complete instructions. Just bury the moisture sensor in the garden bed or in a container planting, use the easy set-up to set soil moisture percentages for turning on and off the watering cycles, hook up a standard ¾-inch hose end, and unit will automatically water your plants. Automatic irrigation saves time and water.
The Ancnoble Irrigation Controller (model GG-005C-1) sells for about $88 from www.anctech.com or www.amazon.com. For more information, call 877-822-3958.