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Published: Wednesday, 2/29/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

COMMENTARY

Irrigation an easy resource

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
BLADE COLUMNIST

You’re not alone if you’re planning for your spring garden. Just over a week ago, I hosted a seminar at the Toledo Home Builder’s Expo at SeaGate Convention Centre and talked with many readers about tricks to keep plants happy.

Did you know that you can save 30 percent to 70 percent of your water if you use drip irrigation? One of the best reasons to set up a drip irrigation system is to give up lugging

the hose around your yard. It also pinpoints the region that will be watered, and sends water to the roots instead of the foliage. Since wet foliage is a good place to breed disease, setting up a drip system also will create less disease in your plants.

If you are looking for a professional irrigation system that is a snap to install, then pick up a Waterwise irrigation kit. It was created by my friends at Proven Winners. Founder, Tom Smith gave me a few kits to play with and I am hooked.

“We wanted to put all of the pieces any gardener would need all in one box,” Mr. Smith said. You can run the hose to each pot on your deck, then to your spigot. It is so simple that it will take you longer to decide how many locations you want than to have it installed.

Mr. Smith recommends hooking the Waterwise kit to a timer right where it hooks to the spigot. That will give you consistent moisture on a regular basis. You can find these kits at your favorite garden center or online.

If you are looking for an excuse to recycle that cracked garden hose, this is your chance. In the last several feet of hose, drill small holes that will serve as a homemade drip irrigation system. Hold the hose down securely with clamps or set it in a vise. With a quarter-inch drill bit, drill small holes in a straight line about 2 to 3 inches apart.

Before attaching to your spigot, cap the end. Turn on the hose slowly, making it only strong enough to produce a consistent drip from the holes you just made and make sure the holes are facing the ground so the water goes directly on the soil and not up on the foliage. Pin it in place with 4-inch pieces of a wire hanger stuck in the ground around the hose.

To get water to the entire rootball, you might need to plant a pipeline for each tree. Cut an 18-inch length of 1 or 2-inch diameter PVC. With a marker, map out a series of holes in a straight line down one side of the pipe spaced about an inch apart. Secure the PVC in a vice or with clamps, then drill into the marks with a quarter-inch drill bit. Use a 1 or 2-inch auger bit to drill a hole next to your tree’s rootball. Tap the PVC into the hole, making sure that the line of holes faces the rootball

Keep it flush with the ground level so you won’t hit it with the mower or trip over it. Now you can use your hose to fill the tube and get water to the entire root system, rather than just the top three or four inches.

Plastic jugs can become a reservoir for your trees. Poke small holes in the bottom of the jug with a nail, fill the jug, and let it slowly seep into the soil. This is great for tomatoes

and shrubs. Five-gallon buckets are also good for irrigation. Drill three small holes in the bottom of a bucket, fill it with water and let it do its job as it sits beside a tree or is tucked between bushes.

If you are going away for a few days, you can easily keep your plants moist if you gang them together. If they are in outside containers, put them together in partly sunny location. Run a drip hose across the top of the containers and set the timer to keep them evenly moist while you are gone.

If you need to keep your houseplants watered, put them in a partly sunny location inside your home and set them in a shallow tub filled with water. You can also set your houseplants in your tub or kitchen sink filled with water. Don’t forget to leave a light on. If you will be gone for just three or four days, you can water your plants slowly with ice cubes. Just put six to eight ice cubes on top of the soil of your plant and let them melt. If you have a very large floor plant, use 12 to 15 ice cubes.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com.



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