Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hand Watering in Hot Weather

Looks like we're about to pay for the garden friendly Summer we've experienced so far this season: 40, 39 and a week above 30 degrees C.

Water becomes the critical issue over the week to come.  We have adjusted irrigation programs to suit and checked all the sprinkler lines. Water early and water late to maximize efficiency. I'm prompted to comment on a pet hate.... Trigger Nozzles!

I get the trigger bit, auto shut off to save wasting water as we move from plant to plant, bed to bed, etc.  But the stupid things are designed for washing cars not watering plants!!!  Fireman Sam reporting for duty! Even the expensive brass numbers are not designed for looking after plants they either bast your plants out of the ground with a rocket stream or evaporate before reaching the foliage when adjusted to a gentler fan. Here'a a thought: lazy nurserymen make the best waterers.  Why? Because they are happy to plug in the i-pod and take more time watering each plant. Busy people are usually too eager to move on to the next job. By the way this is a rule of thumb, there are plenty of exceptions. But I don't care how entertaining the i-pod is NO-ONE can soak a plants roots with a trigger nozzle set to fan it just takes too long. Of course that's a false economy, faffing around dampening the mulch just wastes water. AND don't start me on "multiple pattern nozzles", what a waste of time.

So two tips for today.

1. Aim to wet the root system. I try to teach our guys to imagine each pot is empty and they are trying to fill it as they water.  You can generally adjust up or down from this starting point.  Hand watering garden beds? Use the same theory, how much water would I apply to a fill hole left if the plant was removed. Yes, each individual plant.

2. Buy a decent watering rose. We use plain old Gardena Soft Spray Nozzles for seed raising and very young plants. If you're prepared to spend the money Dramm make the best general purpose "water breakers".  For standard 1/2" (12mm) hose the smaller ones are better because you just won't get enough flow to operate the bigger discs properly. You will have to add a shut off valve and possibly a wand to reach baskets, etc.

Please water early and water deep!

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