10 Water-Saving Ways to Irrigate Your Garden

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Spring is just around the corner.  Though rains and melting snow will provide much of the early Spring water needed for the garden there will come dry periods.  Watering the garden doesn’t need to be expensive or difficult.  With a little bit of work and imagination in the beginning of the season you can have a well watered garden with loads of produce and flowers.  Check out some of these methods inspired by readers ideas curated and adapted from Mother Earth News.

1. Clay pot irrigation – use collected rainwater, or hose water if you don’t have rainwater collection, and place in clay pots on the ground near or buried near your plants. Water seeps slowly into the ground as needed. This prevents weeds and helps reduce wasted water.

2. 5 Gallon Bucket Method – If you have 5 gallon buckets handy drill holes in the sides near the bottom in strategic places so that when filled with water they will slowly empty in the direction of plants nearby. For an added nutrient boost add composted manure or vegetable compost 1/4 of the way up and then fill the rest with water. Fertilize and irrigate all at once.

3. Grey water ditch – if you have a grey water drain in your yard that disposes of your kitchen and laundry water make use of this by digging a trench or ditch to disperse the water in the yard and plant your garden plants along the sides. Be careful of the types of detergents you use if you do this method so as to not feed too many phosphates to your plants.

4. Collect your AC condensation – Do you have a window air conditioner? Fit a length of clear tubing to the outside of the window AC and direct it into a bucket or other receptacle to catch the water. This is collected moisture from your indoor air and should be perfectly safe for your garden plants.

5. Create your own mini well –This will take some creativity, muscle and a few select tools. Dig a 6 foot deep, 30 inch wide hole and frame and line it to prevent collapse. This will catch rain water. Use a pitcher pump to pump the water to a 55 gallon drum, preferably made of food grade plastic (think pickle barrel), fitted with a hose bib so you can gravity irrigate your garden or fill watering cans, etc.

6. Collect water from your roof. Instead of letting all the water that flows from your roof to go into the ditch collect it in barrels. You can use something as simple as a 30 gallon garbage bin or a 55 gallon food grade drum with a lid. There are attachments available for your soffit that allow the water to be diverted to an alternate receptacle along with screens and filters to keep debris from the gutters from flowing in and clogging things up. You can either dip the water out of the barrels when needed or set the barrel up on a simple platform and fit it with a hose bib or spigot to allow gravity to do the work. Since this is standing water it is always a good idea to use mosquito dunks to prevent larvae from hatching in the reservoir system.

7. Simple PVC Drip Irrigation – After preparing your garden for planting determine the length of the row to irrigate. Cut a length of PVC pipe the desired length and drill holes along one side of the pipe. Attach an elbow and a 2 ft length of pipe at one end (this will be your filling end) and cap off the other end so you don’t lose water. The lengths of pipe with the drilled sides are to be buried next to the row you want to water so that the roots grow deeper and they still get watered even when the earth gets really dry and hard. You can do this in a single format or join several together at one end using T joints and elbows yet still only using one filling pipe. You can either fit the exposed filling pipe with a threaded end to attach a hose OR just cover it so you can fill it with a watering can. Forgive my rudimentary drawing :).

8. Catch water from your kitchen faucet in milk jugs – Now this does take some space and planning ahead. If you want to conserve water and put it to good use be prepared with thoroughly washed 1 gallon milk jugs when you are going to wash dishes. Instead of letting the cold water drain away catch it in the jugs and use this water to irrigate your garden plants. This is especially useful when you don’t have working outdoor spigots (like me). Typically, I get 3/4 of a gallon each time.

9. Use 3 or 5 gallon buckets to catch cold water prior to your shower or bath- Just like the method above you save the cold water from going down the drain. You can use this to water your garden. A three gallon bucket is more manageable if you plan to carry this out to the garden directly.

10. Use the kiddie pool to water your garden – If you have children or water fowl you probably have a little pool for them to enjoy in the Spring and Summer. This water tends to get mucky after a few days and needs to be changed. Instead of dumping it in the yard either pump it or dip it out and carry it to the garden. If there is detritus matter in the water the plants will enjoy the little boost of nutrients.

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