Sunday, 22 June 2014

DIY watering system (drip - feed from soda bottles)

When planning the garden, one of the things that worried me most about planting in pots was how easily they dry out, especially on hot days. It's not good for root structures to get completely parched as the plant stems start to collapse inwards. So my initial thought was to purchase a rainwater butt and to set up a drip feed irrigation system using hosepipes amongst the pots and raised beds. However, my garden was simply too small. However hard I tried, I couldn't find space for the rainwater butt without losing valuable growing space. But still, what I really needed was a system that would feed the roots of my plants and not allow them to dry out. And ideally the solution would be cheap. 

Enter the humble soda bottle, stage left. I'd seen watering spikes for sale on Amazon but wanted to avoid having to spend £100 (I have a lot of pots) if possible. So I decided to try drilling holes into the caps of water, soda and fizzy drink bottles instead. Mr Garlic wasn't overwhelmed with happiness at being showered with three months worth of empty bottles when he opened the larder, but it was worth it in the end. 



 
How to make a drip watering system out of soda bottles

You will need:
- One bottle per pot / plant (washed out, labels removed) with the lids
- A drill and small drill bit
- A safe place to drill into

1. Drill a tiny hole into the cap of each bottle and replace the lid
2. Cut the bottom off of the bottle. For the 500ml bottles going in small pots, I took the whole of the bottom off. For the 1.5l bottles going near the bushy plants in the raised beds, I cut half off to help slow evaporation. 
3. "Plant" the bottle, with the lid about two inches under the surface of the soil near the plant you want to water.
4. Fill with water every time you water the garden to get a slow drip straight on to the root of the plant

Troubleshooting 
Make sure that you check the bottles regularly to ensure that the water level is going down. If it slows or stops, check that the hole hasn't become clogged with soil. 
1.5l Diet Coke bottle by a plum tree
This solution should keep your plants watered for a couple of days and will help to keep them healthy and encourage roots to spread deeply and properly rather than just watering the top couple of inches of soil which encourages plants to have shallow roots. It also avoids the plants missing out on water that might otherwise evaporate from the top of the soil and will allow you to go away for the weekend without worrying that your plants will wither and die in your absence.
500ml bottle in a hanging Pineberry basket

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