Easy Way to Water Plants in Extreme Heat
I've always loved growing vegetables. I had my very first garden when I was eight years old. It was a little plot next to my wooden playhouse, where I grew radishes, yellow crookneck squash, spinach, and pole beans. The growing area was small, but I was extremely proud of my harvest! Keeping my plants watered was no problem, due to the diminutive size of the garden. I'd just place the water sprinkler, turn it on, and let it do its job for a couple of hours. Years later, when I had a huge garden on our hobby farm, I realized just how hard it can be to keep plants properly hydrated in extreme heat, without the use of an irrigation system. I didn't have an irrigation system, so I had to come up with another solution.
For the past fifteen years, my husband and I have lived in town, with a relatively small yard. Even so, my desire to grow our own food continued. I decided container gardening was my best option, so I got to work growing vegetables, strawberries, and a few flowers and ornamentals on our large deck. I've been doing this for the past few years, and every year, it's the same story. My deck garden looks great in spring, but when the real heat of summer arrives, the plants begin to suffer.
I still don't have any sort of system for watering. I use a water hose and water everything by hand. With our recent heat wave here in the Deep South, I was having to water some of my plants twice a day just to keep them from wilting in the 100-degree afternoon heat, even though everything was heavily mulched. Twice-a-day watering was just too time consuming. Then I remembered how I had to water my tomato plants on the farm, and I employed that method for my container garden. It's working great!
Recycle Plastic Bottles for Your Container Garden
I like recycling and re-purposing used items, and plastic bottles are no exception. This method of watering your container garden is easy and effective, and it won't cost you a cent. All you'll need are plastic bottles and a knife. That's it!
I use different sizes of bottles, depending on the size of the plant and on how much water it requires. I don't have to use reservoirs with all my plants. I use the system with my “heavy drinkers,” most especially plants with large leaves. Right now, I'm using the bottles with my gourds, cucumbers, and pumpkins, but I suspect my tomatoes will need the extra water in the near future.
How To Make And Use Bottle Waterers
It's best to use bottles with small necks, like soft drink bottles and water bottles. Large plants might need 2-liter bottles, while smaller plants might be fine with smaller bottles. Actually, for my big gourd plants, I used a gallon milk jug!
First, be sure to rinse the bottles well. Any sugary residue could attract flies and bugs. Next, you need to remove the bottom of the bottle, using a knife or a pair of scissors. Once that's done, place the bottle, upside down, in the center of the container. I bury each bottle about a third or half the depth of the soil in the container.
When I do my daily watering, I water each plant well, avoiding the bottle reservoir. Only after each plant container is adequately watered do I fill the reservoir. As the moisture from the original watering drains away and evaporates, the water from the reservoir can slowly water the plant again, providing moisture to the deeper roots.
Container Garden – Watering Challenges
With container gardening, the right amount of water can be challenging. Sometimes it's hard to get enough water to the roots. On the other hand, it's often easy to accidentally provide your plants with too much water. I've had no problems at all, however, over-watering with the plastic bottle reservoirs. Keep in mind, you'll need to have enough holes in your containers to provide for adequate drainage. You don't want to drown your roots!
If your container garden is suffering from not getting enough water, give this idea a try. Your thirsty plants will thank you. It only takes a few minutes and minimal effort. If you employ this watering method, leave a comment below, letting me know how it worked for you!