After the drama of the Great Water Escape over Christmas when we lost over 30,000 litres overnight thanks to a tap fiddler, I’ve made a few changes. The leak wasn’t intentional as the tap didn’t immediately gush with water and needed the pump by the tank to activate before flowing so it was impossible to know if it was on or off. There was no point getting upset, what was done was done and the offending tap has been moved out of sight from potential tap fiddlers.
But what that experience did teach me was just how valuable a resource water is. We managed for three days with large bottles and buckets of water. We ate Christmas dinner on paper plates to save on the dishes and the fine china and silverware we normally use was left in the cupboard. In the bathroom we applied the ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow…. ‘ approach and in the garden, plants were watered with a watering can, but only if they started to look a little peaky. This added insult to injury to plants that had already suffered enough this season, but we got through with limited water until the tanker was available to bring us more and nobody died.
At the last garden we were fortunate enough to have an artesian bore with access to so much water at no cost that we didn’t even need to think about it. So, I didn’t think about it. The garden was well watered, if not over watered as I set the irrigation system for 20 minutes a bed and based on my experience here, that is about 11 minutes too long.
This whole experience forced me to take care of something I’d been procrastinating over for quite some time. Sometimes it feels like procrastination is my superpower, but it isn’t something I’m entirely proud of. You see I have this amazing irrigation system, thanks to the good people at GARDENA. The whole garden is hooked up with drippers in each bed, connected to hoses that run under the paths to hubs for groups of 6 beds. OK, to be fair, 3 out of 5 groups are connected to hubs. Twelve more beds need to have trenches dug to group them together at two more hubs, but their trenches are longer than the first three groups and it is best to do it in the winter in wet sand and so I missed my moment. I will do better this year.
So up until this water crisis I was watering one bed at a time, using the alarm on my phone to alert me when to swap the hose to another bed. So every nine minutes all day the alarm would ring out however, if I was in the middle of something, this could easily stretch out to 12 minutes if not more, or on occasion I’d switch off the alarm but forget to switch off the water. I have learnt through experience in this garden that 9 minutes is the perfect amount of time to fully moisten the entire bed and any more than this water floods out the bottom of the raised beds so any watering longer than 9 minutes is wasted water.
But the good people at GARDENA had not only helped me out with the drippers and hoses, but also a very easy to use water computer and an amazing 6 hose water distributor. So, to avoid the incessant beeping ringing out across the garden, all I needed to do was set up the computer on the tap and set up the distributor so it could be plugged into the 6 end connectors in each hub. Now this is where the progress broke down.
For the average person this is a set and forget process as it is set up as a stationary system, however, I’m not your average person and I need to move the 6 hose water distributor about the garden in order to water each of the groups of beds and for that I needed some kind of vehicle. I had a similar set up at the previous garden and version 3 – a converted store-bought trolley worked well. However thanks to the salt spray from a multitude of storms the trolley I bought a year ago with this in mind wasn’t looking so great, so I needed to have a bit of a rethink and create something that would last longer and possibly made of wood.
Eventually I came up with the perfect solution and set about making the perfect trolley for my 6 Hose Water Distributor. Nothing was going to stop me having the perfect irrigation system. I was all set to go and then we ran out of water. I was all set to go but wasn’t in a position make it happen.
Once our water supply became more stable I, with great excitement, took the trolley housing the 6 Hose Water Distributor and plugged all 6 end connectors into the hoses coming from the distributor. Then at the other end I connected the Water Computer to the tap and connected the hose to the bottom of it. I programmed it easily by pressing buttons and turning the knob and it was all set to go. The water did what it was supposed to, and in just over an hour 6 beds had been watered for 9 minutes each and there was no beeping and not a drop wasted.
Now it is such a pleasure to water the garden. I can move it to the new location, adjust the time on the computer and make sure the taps are on and walk away. The great thing is, I don’t need to water all six gardens, especially if a bed is empty, so I don’t waste precious water. Now I weed while I water, or put my feet up for a bit, or even stop for a cuppa. It is so much easier to water this way and as a result it is easier to develop a good routine. My garden looks so much better for it. I really should have gotten onto this earlier, it is a pretty cool way to water the garden.
Come again soon – the harvest is beginning to come in.
Sarah the Gardener : o)