May 12th, 2013
We have been having unusually hot weather here in Portland. It’s been lovely to get out into the garden and start enjoying the outdoors, planting things, harvesting things. But unseasonably hot weather is not without its downfalls. Firstly, you’re never sure when it will end. Did I put those plants out too soon, will it get cold again (yes, probably). The plants in the greenhouse need watering twice a day, at least. And my Tomato plants are so big I’ve run out of pots in which to ‘re-pot’ them.
Also it has been so dry that many of my vegetable plants that were in the ground needed a lot of water to survive which meant turning on the irrigation system for the first time. An exciting event in our house since I’ve never owned (or needed to own) an irrigation system before. Once we had figured out the timer situation we turned it on one evening after the boys were in bed (because we all know what would happen if they weren’t!).
Like magic the tiny watering heads slid up and started to water my garden. Ten minutes later my whole garden was watered and happy. Something that would have taken me at least an hour probably more by hand. I was mesmerised and ran around taking photos like a crazy lady.
Then I noticed my husband with a smug look on his face. He smiled and said, ‘Welcome to America baby.’ That made me laugh.
It’s true irrigation systems are both good and bad at the same time.
Most people turn them on too often and for too little time – say for 10 mins every morning. But actually 30mins once a week for an established garden will be better for the plants and will encourage deeper roots which in turn will help the plant be more drought tolerant. Young plants and annuals (like vegetables) still need regular watering though.
They also blanket water the entire garden which means that you’re watering the weeds as well as the plants. It’s much better to spot water plants or use a drip system that targets the main plants. And… water is expensive.
But there’s no denying that irrigation systems are amazing for watering gardens quickly. Especially, lawns. They are labour savers just like lawn mowers, blowers, chippers. The fact that you can zone them, time them and regulate how much water you use is amazing. And like all labour saving devices it frees me up to do the interesting stuff like sowing seeds, planting, planning and pruning.
I know it’s a luxury but I love my irrigation system!