[disclosure: Productive Gardens gave me this watering system to review at my request. It’s every bit as good as I hoped]
Like all of you, I am freaken busy. There’s kids, there’s work, the house, dinners, endless washing and all those “little things” like filling out holiday forms and ordering toilet paper. And while my kids thrive on loving neglect, my veggie garden does not.
I have many excises for all the failed starts and shrivelled-up greens, but the truth is, I just forget to water the vegetable garden. It goes thirsty for days (and by that I mean weeks) then gets a five-minute shower from the hose, which reminds me I need to buy a pump for the water tank, so I run upstairs to order one, discover Edith has been chewing a texta and Alfie is drawing on the table, remember to turn the oven on and then forget about the garden until I need salad, by which time it’s dark and the kids are in bed and I really, really want to put on my ugg boots and lie on the floor. “I’ll do it first thing,” I tell myself.
Mama needs a watering system
My neighbours, who have an abundant edible garden spend and plenty of time, spend around half an hour a day watering their veggie patches and fruit trees during the dry Queensland winters. I reckon my 7×5 patch and four fruit trees would need around 20 minutes every other day. Thus it goes on the “should do this” list along with pelvic-floor-exercise and meditation.
We’ve tried using a drip-feeding hose, but it blocked easily and was better at watering weeds than anything edible.
As soon as I saw the wetpot watering system in the Productive Gardens newsletter I knew it was the answer. The fact they describe it as a “self-watering system” told me everything I needed to know. (They don’t sell a self-weeding system, I asked.)
Here’s how it works. You bury clay pots in the patch (you can also use this system for a potted veggie garden), hook them all together with tubing connected to a 30L tank and then plant your seedlings around the clay pot. Being clever things, the plants seek out the water source and send their roots that way.
I used seedlings again this year as I find them a whole lot less work. Seed-raising is great fun for the kids, but I find all the thinning out and replanting too time consuming. I buy 12 seedlings for $1.80 at the Caboulture markets and usually get half a dozen of each plant: spring onions, different lettuces, sweet peas, tomatoes, leeks, Asian greens, cabbage etc. Here are my seedlings in position:
I am very haphazardly following permaculture principles and companion planting things like lettuce and leeks to control insects, but you could plant all the same thing around one pot if you wanted. What you end up with are these gorgeous pods of edible goodness. At the moment mine look a bit messy as the sweet peas, like my kids, are not yet following my orders. Here’s how it looks now (excuse the weeds!):
I have ten of these pods and am harvesting stuff every day. I possibly overplanted, but I’m working on the theory that the plants that are crowded will get their chance to grow as we eat their neighbours.
I am not exaggerating when I say this watering system is a game-changer for me. In my quest to avoid chemicals and be kinder to the environment, having a thriving veggie garden is really important. I love knowing I can make a healthy meal from my pantry and backyard. When we get to the end of the week, we have fresh clean food just down the stairs. Topping up the tank every five or six days isn’t a hassle and I am using the water from our rainwater tank even though I still haven’t bought that pump. We’re also using minimal water as the plants and pots have a little chat and regulate the amount of water needed that day. If it rains, the plants use that water, when it doesn’t, they draw from the pots. It’s like there’s a miracle growing in my backyard, and it gets better every day.
I have the ten-pot system to cover my large veggie patch, but there are smaller kits and you can buy the pots individually.
To see the range of watering systems available from Productive Gardens click here.