There are loads of clever watering devices on the market to help water your tomatoes, flowers and newly installed plants while you are away, or in the very warm temperatures we get occasionally during the summer, where you might just forget for one day with disastrous results.
You might be lucky enough to have a neighbour you can ask to water plants while you are away, but that does tie them down and they are every bit as likely as you to forget!
So we thought we would check out some ideas for watering systems that you can use whether you are away or not.
Most perennial plants will survive being a bit dry in the summer months because their root system is established and they can send roots deep down into the soil to find moisture. Your annual plants and crops such as tomatoes might not do so well while you are away if you don’t have a watering system in place.
Tomatoes need a lot of water, and a regular supply to ensure the fruits can swell and become juicy.
Automatic plant waterers like these from Hozelock have a reservoir that feeds water up into the soil close to the roots of your plants. This provides a steady even supply of water that should ensure that your plants never dry out and just as importantly they don’t get waterlogged either.
This self-watering container range also comes in in a growbag model which is ideal for watering tomatoes and other thirsty crops!
We also love the idea of recycling old bottles to make a vertical garden which is very efficient in terms of water, and the upturned bottles made into funnels at the top will catch rainwater to serve the vertical garden. This is a great space saving idea for small gardens and a good use for all those plastic bottles.
You will need to use the larger bottles for tomatoes because they need lots of room for their roots. Choose a variety such as Tumbling Tom which is designed for container gardening.
A weeping hose irrigation system is very easy to install. The weeping hose, also called a soaker hose, can be attached to a water butt or an outside tap to keep a constant slow regular supply of water being fed to your tomatoes, or other plants.
A weeping hose is made is a semi permeable material so water seeps out of the sides. By burying the hose into the vegetable garden your crops receive a steady supply of water to the roots. You can also simply lay it on the ground, which makes it easy to reposition.
Sections of weeping hose can be joined to lengths of normal hose pipe with connectors so you can run them from bed to bed.
A sprinkler attached to a hose is quite a blunt instrument in terms of watering. You often end up using more water than the plants really need, because the sprinkler covers such a wide area. This can be expensive if you are on a water meter, and in any case is quite wasteful.
Many people use a sprinkler on their lawn in the summer if it gets very dry and the grass starts to go brown, but it is better to allow the lawn to become a bit brown in dry weather. It is surprising how soon lawns recover once the rain comes again!
You might still choose a sprinkler though if you have a large vegetable patch to water, as it will certainly soak a large area quickly.
You can buy irrigation systems that use micro bore pipes to water tubs and baskets, greenhouse crops and even vegetable patches. They can be operated manually or set on a time (ideal for holidays)
One end of the irrigation system connects to your outside tap (either using a normal connector, or with a timer system attached. You can then run lengths of hose between any plant that you want to include on your irrigation system, adding components as you go to get the right configuration for your garden.
If you don’t have a timer then this system does rely on someone turning it on and off (but at least it is easier for friendly neighbours than carrying hundreds of watering cans around the garden).
Alternatively, if you have a large water tank you can use a gravity fed drip irrigation system to last during your holiday. See an example in this video (but they just use a bucket, which we don’t think would last all that long….we would suggest a small water butt, or even a plastic dustbin).
Drip irrigation on a budget. You can buy spikes that screw into plastic bottles and are then pushed into the soil. However you can also use any bottle you like to form an irrigation system. By part-burying it in the soil you get water directly to the roots.
If you use these large plastic bottles you can make holes in the bottom to irrigate. If you use 2 litre bottles you can drill holes in the cap, then make a large hole in the bottom (which becomes the top!) to make topping them up easier.
If you use glass bottles you will need to remove the bottle to fill it, but as least you can check that the holes are clear of debris
Drill holes in the lid of the bottle you are using, about three should be enough – don’t make the holes too small or they will get clogged up with earth. The easiest way to make holes is with a drill driver, and if you don’t have one you can get a perfectly serviceable DIY drill driver at a reasonable price, like this one from Einhell which is one of the most popular models in our shop.
If you click the image you will be taken through to our DIY Superstore, where you can also watch the video of the drill being used.