"watering" --- poison free organic gardening Victoria BC
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Watering

 thriving in a mulch

Now that summer is here - finally, and it's about time I should say - all that sunshine also means watering restrictions and conservation. A mulch - which conserves moisture ever so beautifully - is now needed more than ever. This also keeps the soil much cooler in the heat of the day, and much warmer in our still chilly summer nights.

And, of course, you also get inordinate good looks, and save all that weeding labour. There just isn't anything better than a mulch, any way you look at it.

Most people just turn on the sprinkler whenever it is needed, and while there is nothing wrong with this when there is plenty of water, it isn't the best method in the world to water a garden - especially hereabouts. It's a bit wasteful, if the truth be known, since it puts too much water on the soil than it can handle all at once. A lot of it will just run off, more of it will just evaporate into the air, and some of it will drift away with the wind when it's windy.

However, if you water by sprinkler, the best time to water your gardens is in the morning, so that your crops can dry off during the day, and go dry into our cool summer nights. Also, sprinkler watering can be very deceiving, as it presents us with a picture of a nicely wet surface, while it may well be quite dry underneath - in the place where moisture is needed the most. Always make sure that at least the top 1" is soaked through; from there it will trickle down nicely.

There are two far better methods - soaker hoses, and trickle irrigation. For the soaking method, you would need soaker hoses - hoses with a lot of very small holes in it. Soaker hoses deliver water to the soil in small quantities - much more in accord with the rate at which soil can absorb water - over a longer period of time. It also uses only about 1/4 of the water as compared to sprinkler irrigation, and uses the water far more effectively and with much less waste.

For small gardens, this is a highly water conservative and very beneficial method - your crops will just love it - and particularly so for flower gardens where you can hide the soaker hoses under the mulch. Its only disadvantage comes in large gardens as it requires a lot of soaker hoses. But this would be a one-time investment, and you would have the great advantage of well watered gardens even under severe water restrictions for many, many years to come.

Trickle irrigation - by far the best for your crops - is essentially the same thing, with the flow of water through the hoses reduced to a mere trickle - a drip a minute or two - and left on for an appropriately longer time.

This method can also be 'customized' for individual plants, shrubs and small beds - as for cucumber hills and tomato shrubs, for instance. All that is needed are as many tin cans, of various sizes, as required. Tin, incidentally, is by far the best as tin is one of the many trace elements all living things need for their health and well being, but is not supplied in any of the commercial fertilizers. It is also much better than aluminum, as we and our crops get too much aluminum via general industrial pollution already.

Just punch a tiny hole into the bottom of each tin can, so it emits a drop of water every minute or two, and then bury the tin can, up to its rim, in the soil near the plants, shrubs and small beds as needed. Fill it with water and cover it with a lid, to reduce evaporation, and refill with water as needed. This is an extremely conservative method as it delivers moisture exactly where needed, at a highly effective rate. With this method you can assure a steady supply of moisture to all your crops, plants and shrubs with an absolute minimal amount of water.

This method also lends itself beautifully to adding a bit of fertilizer at the same time, by adding dilute seaweed - excellent for the full spectrum of the vitally important 72+ trace elements in seaweed - manure and compost 'teas' to the water in the cans. Or just toss a little chunk of seaweed into the bottom of the can, and fill with water. Replace the chunk of seaweed as needed after it has decayed.

And for the ultimate in conservation, fill those cans with dirty dishwater, which just brims with all the nutrients your crops and plants need. You not only save all the money for fertilizers, but the 'double duty' of the dishwater is as water conservative - and as beautifully 'green' - as it is possible to be. Depending upon the size of your gardens, you might not need any other irrigation water at all.

With these methods you will have wonderfully healthy, abundant and thriving gardens, even under the most severe water restrictions.



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