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Keeping it moist: Hand watering vs bucket irrigation

Now that Summer is over the garden is surging into growth and abundance. But this option will soon enough be contained by the fact that as the months tick over here in the sub tropics the rain will thin out so that by July, August and September we should be in dry.

Last Winter was particularly dry and keeping water up to the vegetables was a daily and frustrating challenge.

I have installed a Leaky Hose system  but I have found it cumbersome to manage as I water the garden from the one large 100 litre water barrel and keep shifting the hose that runs from that to hook up to hoses on pairs of garden beds. It takes so long to fill and if I am distracted the water will overflow before I turn off the tap to the hose that fills the barrel.

Since my 'soil'  remains quite sandy despite my loam-ing efforts, I  think that I'm losing a lot of water to seepage despite my attempted efficiencies: trench and sheet mulching .

So of late I have been hand watering instead.

Accepted wisdom is that you need to always water long and deep  but then...that may not be the case:
According to an American Water Works Association (AWWA) Research Foundation study, manual watering with a hand-held hose tends to conserve more water than other irrigation methods. If you are going to have an in ground system, make sure it is a drip system as it uses the least amount of any automatic system – but still 16 per cent more than watering by hand. In-ground spray systems used 35 percent more water than hand watering, and an automatic spray system used 47 percent more. If you are going to have an in-ground system, drip irrigation is best . However, even drip irrigation uses 16 percent more water than hand watering. (link)
The problem is that you can't spend all day hand watering the soil.You may get to know your plants that way individually and  intimately -- but it takes time to  wet all of what you've got growing. And besides the more concentrated and speedy is your inundation on sandy loam like mine, the quicker it will seep to a depth below the root line.

And I'm a busy man.

So I'm thinking of adapting what I've got -- the Leaky Hoses -- and adding a few smaller buckets around the garden instead of relying on the one 100 litre tank. If I am doing  my sums correctly I need allocate only 10 litres per 5 metre long bed each time I irrigate.

I may have to bucket each bed daily or maybe twice per day during drought -- but the savings as per the water budget make sense.

So instead of moving along the garden beds squirting H20 at botanicals I stand at one end and fill a bucket with the liquid instead.


My notion is to in effect deploy both methods: hand watering and bucket irrigation. I need  get a couple of extra buckets and some hose adaptors; use the barrel I've got to water 5 garden beds at once ( at 10-15 litres at each irrigation) instead of two..and Bob's your uncle! 

My problem was that I was caught up in a schematic  approach and was trying to force the garden to adapt to my technological wishes instead of addressing the challenge of watering more from the point of view of actually doing the job of just wetting soil and hoping to water the roots it contained.

Bucket Irrigation: Uganda

Afterward: The other option is to embed terracotta pots into the soil and fill those with water as required. But who wants to be squirting water into small flower pots sealed at both ends? Some times the simplest and cheapest options make the most sense.


 

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