Making A Drip Watering System For Only Dollars

There are many kinds of drip watering systems. The most basic are generally at least $20, give or take. The nicer ones are close to $100.

The benefits to drip systems include significantly less water waste because of reduced runoff and evaporation, as well as delivering water to the base or roots of the plants so as to not water the leaves of plants that don’t do well with watering from above or which are fighting fungus or mold. The delivery straight to the roots which I’m using brings water to deep tap roots and encourages deep roots for hardier, more drought resistant plants.

I did a homemade drip watering system using plastic bottles. Costco had a thirty pack of Gatorade for about ten dollars. With the heat we’ve had in the Pacific Northwest lately, I decided that some Gatorade couldn’t hurt; we don’t usually drink much of it because of the sugar and coloring.

I also had a couple of two liter soda bottles from a get-together with friends.

Many drip systems drip water onto the top of the soil, but the one I made delivers it straight to the roots.


I started by removing labels and rinsing the bottles.


  
From there I drilled three holes in the bottom of each. For the small bottles I drilled two more holes on one side, and for the big ones I did three up two sides. Go slow with the drill. You don’t want it to slip.



After that I buried them next to the roots of the plants. Where there were pairs close together I used the two liters. The holes up the sides faced the plant.


Epsom salt is an organic way to help plants recover from root shock and create better blooms and fruit. It dissolves in water, so I put maybe a teaspoon into each bottle before watering. I imagine that putting liquid fertilizer, compost teas, etc in would also be possible.


  
To finish off, I decided to keep the caps on the bottles. I wanted to keep insects from falling in and drowning — particularly good ones like bees and ladybugs — and slow down how quickly the water drains. It only slows it a little, but the concept is not unlike putting your finger on the end of a straw to keep the water from coming out. In this case, multiple holes in the bottle still allow it to drain, just slower.

I didn’t particularly want a bunch of orange Gatorade caps in my garden even though most of the plants will eventually spread enough to hide them fairly well, so I painted them. My adhesive stencils pulled paint off since the paint doesn’t adhere very strongly to the smooth plastic, so I free-handed a lot of them. They’re not very fancy, but they’re better than a bunch of orange caps with a logo.

So what do you think?

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Trying This Gardening Thing…Organically 

I’m fairly new to this gardening thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally without knowledge and experience. I helped my mom plant flowers, saw the beauty of her roses (mulched regularly), and did indoor seed germination at school. I’ve certainly weeded before. I helped my sister-in-law start a garden when we lived with them for a few months one year.

But ultimately it’s not a lot of personal experience. Especially since the personal reward has never really been there, and I tended to abandon weeding my parents’ yard at the first sign of spiders. Can you blame me?

More so, I’ve got this ambition to be largely, perhaps totally, organic with gardening at my own home, which means I have to learn about natural solutions and buy organic supplies rather than just grabbing Miracle Grow or Slugg-o to address the needs of my growing things.

Pinterest, Google, and a few Facebook pages have been ridiculously helpful.

I’ve got a few things from the kitchen set up already.

Egg shells, like diatomaceous earth, kills slugs, snails, and low crawlers. Coffee grounds added straight acidity the soil, so it’s great for my blueberries.
Today I also picked up a bag of Epsom salt–magnesium sulfate–for a few of my plants that could use a boost, including one struggling blueberry and the veggies I planted yesterday.

Only my spinach really came up before, so hopefully I’ll have better luck this time. I also forgot about thinning said spinach when I was supposed to, so I did that yesterday too. Epsom salt is supposed to help transplant shock, so hopefully they’ll forgive me for the delayed thinning.
Hopefully there will be minimum error in my trials with organic gardening. It takes a bit more knowledge and planning to garden and control pests without fertilizers reliant on fossil fuels and indiscriminate pesticides on the plants, but hopefully it will be worth the effort.

Bring In the (Good) Critters

As I shared not long ago, we bought a house and I began gardening. Very quickly, my reading in conjunction with this new venture has given me a new desire: to create a safe haven for certain wildlife in my own backyard.

Did you know that bee populations have been radically declining? While neonicotinoids (the root in there is nicotine, for pronunciation help) are likely part of the problem, and avoiding using them or buying plants treated with them can be an important step, it’s not the whole picture. Scientists aren’t precisely sure what the whole picture is yet, but it’s likely a combination of factors, one being overuse of pesticides on the plants bees collect pollen from. Bees are vital to our food supply, and need our protection.

Bird populations are also declining nationwide; faster in some places than others. Much of this is habitat destruction, so obviously sharing our habitat with them could be of vital significance in stopping this trend, along with greater conservation of natural resources.

 Although we don’t get many this far north, monarch butterflies are included in this sad trend. In 2003 they took up 27.5 acres in the hibernation area in Mexico. In 2013, it was just over 1.5. They bounced back some last year, but not totally. Again, herbicides in agriculture are of some of the blame.

Bat populations are on the decline too. Part of this is a disease, likely caused by a fungus.  The disease will likely sort itself out once the population decreases to resistant bats and they breed, but perhaps only after extinction of some species. But part is also habitat destruction. We may not all like bats (I personally have no problem with them), but they are hugely important to pest control. Insofar as we can help with the habitat problem, we should.

So what can the average homeowner do to help all of these, even if in small ways? After all, enough people doing something small can add up to a big difference.

For bees, we can switch to safer pest control. If we want to get more involved, supporting petitions and legislation again overuse of harmful pesticides and looking for/utilizing safer, viable alternatives in agriculture is an option too. Further, when considering flowers for your garden, consider flowers that are particularly attractive to bees. If you’re providing safe pollen sources, you’re doing your part.

Further, if you have a bee hive too close to your house, or encounter a swarming hive, call a beekeeper rather than an exterminator. But if you have land, no one allergic in your home, and they’re not too near the house or frequented areas, just leave them be and give them space. Your garden will thank you.

Finally, for bees, make or buy a bee condo and mount it in a sheltered location. Female mason bees will use them to lay their eggs. Mason bee males don’t sting and females rarely do, so they’re pretty safe to invite into the yard. They’re blue, which is pretty cool. There’s no beekeeping responsibilities with this option, unlike keeping a hive. If you have the space and inclination for keeping a hive, go for it.

On to butterflies! These are also pollinators, so your garden will thank you for them too. Like bees, flowers that attract butterflies are a great option. There’s a lot of crossover between the two.

Providing food and water sources, which can be very decorative, helps too.

 

My perennial garden includes this super simple butterfly puddler. Butterflies have to drink from shallow water, mud, or damp sand, all of which become more scarce in summer. Adding one of these, kept wet, in warm weather can attract butterflies for a drink. A butterfly feeder hung from a tree is another possibility.

Birds may eat our berries, but they also eat bugs and are vital to the food chain, so welcoming them by leaving nests in trees, adding a bird bath to the yard, and hanging a feeder and bird houses from a tree is free pest control.

Ditto to bats. Mosquito reduction like no other. And guess what? There’s such thing as bat houses. They have to be hung 15-25 feet high (no more, no less) and placed in the sunshine. It can take a few seasons to get some roosting critters in there.

A lot of these include projects that can be done with kiddos, along with fun learning experiences. Don’t pass up the opportunity!