Friday, June 15, 2012

Vacation Watering

My garden is off to a slower, less enthusiastic start this year. I decided not to plant so much as I plan to be away from home a bit more this summer. I just don't have the time to properly take care of my plants. And this past week was the first of my summer challenges: keeping my plants watered for a week with no one at home. In the past I've had someone take care of things for me but this time I decided to find a way to do it without asking for help. I figured that if my plants are still relatively young and planted in self watering containers they might be able to survive that long without needing a watering.

But for the plants not in self watering containers I needed to find an automatic solution. I purchased a Claber Oasis self watering system. It's nothing more than a tub with a timer controlling the opening and closing of a small value. When open, water can flow from the tub through flexible tubing to drippers over the soil in your containers. Only problem is, relying on gravity, it needs to be higher then your plants. And some of my plants are in a planter box at table height.

I added a shelf to the side of my highest planter and placed the Claber there. I pushed all of the containers towards the back of the balcony where they get less sun, clustered around the Claber. And I fed the water lines in a loop over the containers, with a few drippers per container. I even placed drippers over my self watering containers. Then I covered the tops of all the containers with white plastic to prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.  The timer on the drip system was set to go off twice a day and deliver 4oz per dripper per watering session.

When I came home after a week, I was happy to see everything still alive and growing. Only problem I had was with the drippers higher up, closer to the tub. To work properly, the drippers have to be a couple of feet below the water reservoir. The drippers didn't drip as much. Some of them I had modified to drip faster and these did all right. But some providing water to a couple of pepper plants could have been working better.

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