Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Wise Watering

Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Wise Watering

Article excerpt

WATERING SEEMS LIKE a simple gardening task, but how you do it can make all the difference in your plants' health and productivity-and even in your utility bills.

Fruit and vegetable crops need about an inch of water a week (in dry or scorching climates, it's two inches); plants may survive on less, but to grow and bear fruit, that's the minimum. When rainfall doesn't supply enough, you need to make up the difference.

With drip irrigation-moisture delivered gradually right to the roots-no water is lost and the soil can absorb and slowly disperse the moisture. You don't need to spend a lot on a basic drip system, though you can invest in a more elaborate setup that lets you forget about watering altogether. Here are the options:

WATERING SPIKES

With empty 2-liter soda bottles and attachments available through gardening suppliers, you can make a DIY drip system for containers. Fill a soda bottle with water, thread a spike on top, turn the bottle upside down, and push the spike into the soil. The fluid drains out in drops; when it's time to water again, you just refill the bottle.

Price: Less than $10 for a set of six spikes

SOAKER HOSE

Made with rubber that's been perforated, soaker hoses seep water along their length and saturate the ground about 6 inches in all directions. To install, simply position the hose around the target plants, connect the open end to a garden hose or spigot, and turn on the water. Soaker hoses work best on flat surfaces and for short runs no longer than 100 feet.

Price: About $15 for 25 feet

TAPE AND TUBING

Drip tape is plastic line with holes. Tubing costs more, but can handle higher water flow. …

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