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.

The garden water tank
It is all very well having a 30,000 litre water tank for the garden, however if it doesn’t have any water in it then it isn’t a lot of good.

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.

Watering the beans
The drippers are great to water the plants where they need it – at the soil.

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.

Underground irrigation system
The work I put in digging the trenches to connect the beds has really paid off.

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.

Undug trench
I still need to dig a big long trench to connect all of these gardens. It will make my life so much easier to have them connected, but…. digging…. lots of digging….

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.

End connector hub in use
There is something so satisfying connecting all of the hoses here at the hub knowing 6 beds will be watered with no effort on my part at all.

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.

GARDENA 6 Hose Water Distributor
The GARDENA 6 Hose Water Distributor is such a useful gadget, it made my day when I found out it existed. I love it so much!

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.

Gardena Water Distributor Automatic
I love the trolley I made to go with the GARDENA Water Distributor. It works really well.

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.

Gardena Water Computer MasterControl
The GARDENA Water Computer MasterControl is the final piece of equipment to go into my watering station

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.

Garden view from the shed
This is one of my favourite watering positions – sitting in my comfy chair in my office shed doing not a lot, except watering…

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)


NB:  If you want to find out more about these cool tools for  Clever Watering check out:  GARDENA Water Computer MasterControl  and Water Distributor Automatic

3 thoughts on “Waterwise

  1. Ironically, we are busy with a trench to drain excess water from our garden. Double irony: at this time of year we also need to water by hand.
    Soggy for nine months and scorched for three seems to be the new pattern.

    1. If you have a trench open you might as well pop some irrigation in there so it is easier to keep the soil moist in the growing season. It was very soggy and very dry where I used to garden so completely understand your problem. : o)

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