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Hand watering...

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Hand watering...

Post  jerzyjen on 2/4/2011, 8:49 pm

So going into my 3rd year SFG'ing, I've always used soaker hoses on a timer. With my new planned layout, I think having soaker hoses are going to be a pain. My new layout will be more effecient for working and will look very nice and orderly, and I don't know if I want hoses running all over the place, and creating tripping hazards.

So I know its hard to really say but I'd like to hear from any gardeners out there that hand water. How often will I need to do it, and how long do you think it will take each day to water my garden. For reference, I have will have (5) 2' x 6' boxes, and (2) 2' x 2' strawberry boxes.
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Re: Hand watering...

Post  boffer on 2/4/2011, 9:41 pm

The secret to efficient hand watering is having the right tools! I make my own watering wands because my wife can destroy the cheap store bought wands in a heartbeat. Here are three wands; I've added a couple more since but I don't have a picture of them.


I use quick connect brass couplers. The hose end has a shut off valve. Two of wands are old shower heads. One can be adjusted to put out a fine gentle mist which is perfect for keeping seeds damp without disturbing them. The 'sunflower' waters a larger area at once when the plants are established and healthy. I love the thing that looks like a small engine muffler. It's called a diffuser; it puts out the same rate of flow as the hose but without the force that would dig holes into the MM. It works great on a box full of taller mature plants like broccoli or potatoes; it waters real fast.

Personally, I think the secret to watering MM is to water everyday. You can't overwater. Once MM is damp, it's easy to keep it damp. If MM dries out, it is very time consuming to get it thoroughly saturated again.

SWAG: less than five minutes. More if you roll up your hose!
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Re: Hand watering...

Post  camprn on 2/4/2011, 10:03 pm

+1 I agree that the wand is the answer.
Watering a bit everyday keeps the mix moist. I firmly believe that being conservative about the amount of water is better than over-watering. You may not be able to over water Mel's mix, but you can certainly over water certain plants.
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Re: Hand watering...

Post  Lavender Debs on 2/5/2011, 8:32 am

We are planning a drip system because we travel, but we seldom use it except if we are on the road. I get heat sick, it is nice to just turn on the system if it is too hot for me to be outside. The plan this year is to set up drips and put couplers on the boxes (not my job, I'm not that organized, but Ray seems excited about engineering it all.)

I also have a watering can that I like to use when it is hot (not too often around here) to feed plants a mix of compost tea (my composter makes and saves this for me or I probably wouldn't do it) and liquid fish fertilizer. It seems to make everything except the broccoli happy. Broccoli is the Eeyore of the Toy Box. I don't have a good rain water collection system yet but when I have rain water I like to use it.

Deborah....who usually puts the hose away.


Last edited by Lavender Debs on 2/5/2011, 8:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Hand watering...

Post  Megan on 2/5/2011, 8:38 am

I hand watered for a while in early spring last year, but rapidly figured out that I would not have time to do so in my busy work mornings. I was using a watering can, but even with a wand I think there would have been a problem with dragging hoses around, given the basic layout of my yard and where the tap and boxes were.

My solution was to put in an irrigation system where the hoses were both buried and protected in places I might step on them. I spent several weeks fiddling with layouts on paper to minimize hose length and stepping-hazard areas. It worked out great and cost under $75. I will need to rebury a few sections that heaved up this spring, but I plan to put in the same kind of system in my back yard this year.

I know this is not a hand watering solution, but thought it might provide a counterpoint to future readers. I struggled for quite a while with hoses before doing what I did. I still love the idea of hand watering as it gives you time to be out communing with your plants. Smile
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Re: Hand watering...

Post  jerzyjen on 2/5/2011, 10:57 am

I think that is my biggest concern. I work full time and do travel for work during the week sometimes. I'm thinking if I pair watering with something else I do everyday, i won't forget to do it (I'm thinking of watering at the same time I feed the dogs, 1 time in the am, 1 time in the pm). I'm just a bit worried about my hubby remembering to do it on days that im out of town.

I've thought about burying a complex system but I have so much work to do this spring outside of my veggie garden (tree removal, fixing my butterfly garden and front walk area) that I don't want to add anymore to my spring plate.

My old layout did work out pretty well for hose running, but I hated the layout and it was difficult to bring in my little wagon. Also it looked a mess. This year, I think it will be a little more formal looking.

I will definatly have to think about the wand situation, cause the idea of scooping out a cup in a sun warmed bucket like Mel describes does not work for my schedule.
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Re: Hand watering...

Post  Megan on 2/5/2011, 5:02 pm

That was my issue as well--time. I prefer to water in the morning, but I can't easily get up any earlier and it's a race to get everything done before I jump in the car as it is. With the irrigation system, I could run outside, turn it on, get breakfast/dressed etc., then turn it off on my way out the door with a few minutes to take a quick look at what was going on.

I don't want to detract from the wand discussion, but please know that a buried system doesn't have to be complex or expensive. I put mine in in just a couple hours (then extended it later.) PM me if you'd like to discuss further. Smile
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Re: Hand watering...

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 2/5/2011, 5:11 pm

Whichever you decide, it shouldn't take long. I water everyday when I take the dog out. I'm usually done before she can finish her business. You have a few more beds, but it will only add minutes, not quarters of hours.

In the heat of summer, though, if you are watering lightly, you will need to go back over them at some point after lunch/early evening imo. But, again, it only takes minutes to do....and actually is as good as an after work cocktail.

My dad used to walk the yard with his when I was young. I am not much of a drinker, so I water my veggies.
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Re: Hand watering...

Post  Icemaiden on 2/5/2011, 6:09 pm

I hand-watered using a watering can last year and used 1 can of water per 4x4 box. So you would need about 4 or 5 cans of water each session at that rate.

Mind you, I don't have to worry about getting the leaves wet here Laughing

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