How to water plants with minimal expenditure of water and physical strength?
We have a drought in the Kuban. Dry autumn turned into a dry winter, and that, in turn, into a dry spring. The river that flows past us has been represented by the brook for the third month. Small backwater pools are completely filled with frog caviar. Frogs yell in bad voices, but they still have nowhere to put more eggs. In these conditions, the problem of providing plants with moisture is very acute. I will tell you about what options are for a particular site and how to rationally use water without adding extra work to myself, in this article.
How can I water it?
In fact, there are only two methods of watering plants: sprinkling, favorable for all plant inhabitants of the site, and “targeted”, highlighting pets. The second, of course, is much more economical.
Sprinkling is effective, perhaps, only for the lawn and all kinds of lawns. In other cases, this is unreasonable water consumption and weed cultivation. It is a question of a personal plot or a summer cottage - in the fields a completely different situation.
The “targeted” water supply includes all other types of irrigation, both ordinary (from a watering can) and “exotic” (using wicks). The most economical option is drip irrigation, which delivers water in a strictly dosed manner.
Officially, the method was invented in Israel. There it is vitally necessary, because 60% of the territory is occupied by the Negev desert. But, in my opinion, the idea was always in the air. Variants of drip irrigation were used earlier by craftsmen in places with a shortage of water or time, and the Israelis patented it and introduced it into mass production. And automated to get confused with the installation of the system once and no longer worry.
Methods of metered watering
Drip irrigation systems, the most diverse, can simply be bought by choosing the hosts that are suitable for a particular site and requests. It remains to be concerned only with the source of water. It is desirable, in a large capacity in which the water would be warmed. The container needs a closed and dark color - it will heat up faster, and algae will not start in it. The inconvenience of the system - all these pipes and hoses are very cluttering up the space. It’s better to try it in the greenhouse, and then decide if this option suits you, or not. For hot and arid areas, this method is very good.
You can not buy, but look at the diagrams and assemble them yourself from available materials at hand. Old, sometimes leaky hoses will be very handy.
The vast majority of popular hoseless and tubeless drip irrigation methods are based on the use of plastic bottles. Fortunately, as a rule, there are no problems with these resources.
Bottles with a cut bottom and holes in the lid are stuck with the lid down near the watering plant (or group of plants), it remains only to periodically add water there. You can use special conical dropper nozzles.
There are options:
- with suspended bottles and medical droppers fixed in them;
- with suspended bottles and slightly detached corks;
- with a system of cut-off 1.5-liter and 5-liter bottles (in a small one - water, and a large one collects condensate that drains into the ground);
- and a host of other diverse options, depending on the needs and fantasies of gardeners.
These methods provide a guaranteed supply of plants with water for several days, but require the filling of numerous containers as they are emptied. If there are few dry periods, it is quite acceptable.
An interesting option, borrowed from indoor floriculture - wick watering. Everything is at home: a container of water is placed in the middle of the garden, streaks of fabric stretch from the water towards the plants (they should be sprinkled with a little earth). And the plants themselves "pull" their water. You can use multifunctional plastic bottles.
Watering from watering cans, buckets, hoses with different nozzles do not lose their relevance, but they require timeliness, that is, the constant presence of the owner on the site. Water consumption is noticeably greater. This event also requires a lot of time (and regular).
All of the above applies to herbaceous plants. Trees and shrubs are watered, as a rule, from a hose (into grooves, special pipes or diffusers) and for a long time.
Is it possible not to water?
You can reduce the number of irrigations to a minimum or reduce to nothing. Moreover, to get a lot of additional bonuses. Mulching solves this problem. The materials used, the thickness of the mulching layer can be very different: hay, straw, non-woven materials, wood chips, rotted sawdust, compost, cones, wooden boards and even stones. In a decorative garden, this function is successfully performed by ground cover plants.
For garden crops, hay, straw, rotted sawdust, mowed grass, cut siderata show the best results.
The main advantage of this method is not only the conservation of moisture that was in the soil, but also the retention of the one that forms every morning in the upper soil layer from temperature extremes (condensate). That is, natural watering without additional water.
Additional mulching bonuses:
- the topsoil does not compact, does not weather, does not require loosening (due to which the suction roots of plants are inevitably damaged);
- Mulching at times reduces the number of weeds;
- the surface layer of the soil does not lose beneficial microorganisms from heat, sun and wind, which process organics into elements accessible to plants;
- lack of regular watering does not wash out nutrients from the root layer;
- under a layer of mulch, earthworms settle with pleasure, fertilizing the surroundings with their coprolites.
If organics (mowed green manure, grass, compost, rotted sawdust) is used as mulching materials, bonuses are added:
- mulch processed by soil microorganisms serves as fertilizer;
- carbon dioxide emitted by these voracious creatures is the basis of photosynthesis, which gives plants 94% of the nutrition for growth and development (only 6% provides mineral nutrition);
- the warmth that inevitably forms during this feast provides a more comfortable environment for our pets;
- mixing soil inhabitants with organic residues significantly improves the structure of the soil.
The nuances of "irrigation-free irrigation"
It is better to mulch freshly planted seedlings in order to preserve moisture in the soil. Plants that have sprouted from seeds are mulched after the formation of real leaves, by this time the earth will already be warm. If you cover a cold earth with a layer of mulch, it will remain cold for a long time. Plants will be stunted.
At our site, we use mowed grass as a mulch for garden plants - we have a lot of it.
Growing green manure directly on the beds with their subsequent cutting and using as mulch is more effective, because it solves several problems at once. Firstly, it inhibits weed growth. Secondly, the roots of green manure, which will remain in the soil after cutting, will be consumed by soil microorganisms and turn into fertilizer. In this case, the remaining cavities will condense moisture on the walls. The more roots, the more moisture.
Thirdly, when processing fresh plants, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, necessary for vegetables, are formed. Fourth, some siderates, for example, white mustard, are able to scare away the bear and slugs with root secretions.
Mulch must be added during the season, since the lower layers will be processed by soil microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, protozoa) and mixed with the upper layer of the soil by larger soil inhabitants, primarily earthworms.
For roses, I use a sophisticated version of mulch (puff mulching): dry grass, cotton (old t-shirts, for example), still dry grass, cones. Roses in the summer (Kuban!) I water once a month, if there is no rain at all. The fabric is a reservoir of water and slowly releases it into the soil. At the same time, a damp cloth helps to cool the surface of the earth and, due to the temperature difference, air-soil condenses additional moisture. If you pick up this whole structure, you will find cool, moist soil and a bunch of earthworms.
She covered the soil with small stones in the place where drought-resistant plants grow. So, it turned out that under the stones it is also almost always cool and there is moisture. The reason is the same - condensation. In the stones, the plants turned out to be good.
Another favorite way is ground cover plants. A variegated periwinkle has grown under our lilacs, taking root in all possible places and creating continuous thickets. The soil under it does not dry out even in extreme heat, although watering once a week still requires it. In the forest, I see a wild periwinkle in the driest and shaded places.
Also for dry places with poor soil, an awl-shaped phlox is suitable, a tenacious creep, stonecrops, a little in the shade - a loosestrife is monetized. There are a lot of ground covers, you can always choose the right ones.
Do not be afraid that some plants will take away food from others, the worst enemy is bare land. Because she’s almost dead.
Mulching of beds with all kinds of non-woven materials is most often found on strawberries, but it is also suitable for other crops. By the way, if you lay white on top of the black mulching material, the effect will intensify - the earth will not overheat and condensate will accumulate more actively. In addition, reflected light is no less useful to plants than direct light.
There are options for storing moisture directly in the soil. To do this, a large amount of peat can be introduced into the soil of acidophilus plants (lovers of acidic soils). The greatest effect is achieved when peat is placed in the zone of suction roots. Peat is able to absorb moisture from 500% to 1800% (maximum - sphagnum peat) during irrigation and during rain. And then the plants suck it from there.
Vermiculite and perlite absorb 500% and 400% of water when watering, respectively, and also then slowly water the plants with moisture. For repeated use, they are not very suitable, with each cycle their absorbency decreases. But they do not stop structuring the soil.
Absorbing abilities of a hydrogel are the coolest: 1 g of a dry gel can absorb 200-300 g of water. The hydrogel can dry and swell repeatedly, it lasts about 4 years in the soil, then the soil microorganisms will finally use it.
The use of moisture-retaining materials gives remarkable results on light sandy soils, in containers, hanging planters, vertical beds.
Dear readers! Providing plants with moisture is a very creative process! Combining different methods will only benefit plants. All good harvests!