Automate your H²0

Don’t forget to breathe … and water

It’s summer and fields of waving wheat make you smile as you bike down the Cowboy Trail south of Cochrane. You love this image so much you seriously consider selling your condo in the city and buying a farm.

As you arrive home later in the day reality hits. Your plants have wilted in their hot, black pots on the patio. Superbells lay limp and are probably dead. Petunias wilt. Snapdragons droop. Maybe you can’t buy the farm until someone starts watering for you in town.

Automate Your Watering:
One option for easy-care is to automate your watering system. This is as simple as buying a splitter, a timer, micro-tubing and emitters. In Calgary, Regency Irrigation offers all the bits, bobs and advice you need to set up an automatic watering system.

The Splitter:
Available at any hardware store, the splitter allows one tap to be converted to two or four taps and each has a shut-off valve so it can be turned on or off individually as needed. This lets you attach a hose and hand water with one side while you attach a timer or “system” to the other. I have a two-way splitter coming off my back tap and from each of those taps I attached a timer.

The Timer:
I currently have one Toro and one Agrifim battery-operated manual timer attached to each side of my two-way splitter.

The Toro timer is connected to a hose and the hose is connected to a specially pierced micro-drip tube running the length of my squash patch. I discovered a few years ago that my deer don’t eat my squash so I planted them outside the fence. (Your deer could be different so test this in a small area first.) I set the timer to open the drip system twice a day for fifteen minutes so that the squash stay well hydrated. I figured this out after I had it open for an hour twice a day and nearly drowned the plants. Soils differ from site to site so start with a short water interval and increase it if the plants are wilting and soil is dry.

The Miniature Sprinklers:
The second timer only runs once per day. It connects to a four-way splitter and tubes run to little mini-sprinklers called emitters – one on each individual pot around my patio. The patio timer is only on for five minutes a day because these emitters – which can be adjusted up or down by twisting to the right or left – really pour on the water. I added drip trays because if the soil in the pots is dry, the water runs right through the potting soil and is wasted.

Automating your city watering saves water because it is precise. It also frees your time for biking and dreaming. What are you waiting for?

Donna Balzer is a garden writer and entertaining speaker. Check out her blog at www.gardenguru.net or follow her on twitter @NoGuffGardener.

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