The Great Watering Experiment
Now, those of you that read this piffle from time to time will know that I do love a good experiment. I like to try new things, and when I see someone doing something different, I like to try and put a spin on it for my own amusement. Sometimes things go well, but more often than not I waste a lot of time and effort. Still, isn’t that the whole point of gardening? So my next experiment will be a way to reduce watering needs.
On a recent visit to Bordeaux I popped into the Botanical Gardens (there’s some guff about it here) and one of things that caught my attention was how they watered some of the beds. The majority of the beds are trenched, with the plants growing on top of the mounds. In a few special cases, the plants actually sit in the trenches.
At the end of each bed is a tank. These are fairly shallow, low level, large open tanks. They collect rainwater, and considering that Bordeaux has lower rainfall levels than the UK, they still seemed to provide sufficient water. The tanks also have a population of frogs, which helps keep slug numbers controlled.
Each of the tanks has an outlet that leads into a manifold, and this has openings for each trench. The gardeners then simply open the outlet from a tank, and all of the trenches in the bed are flooded. The water soaks into the sides of the mounds, and the plants therefore develop better root growth because they have to grow down to the water level. This ensures a good water supply without the plants sitting in damp soil. Where plants do like sitting in the wet, they’re the ones planted into the trenches. The only bed which has supplementary irrigation is the tomatoes.
Now, this got me thinking about rigging up a similar system at the allotment. I need to get hold of a couple of water containers with a large surface area, and I’ve already set about trenching one half of the space. Luckily I have clay about 16-18 inches down, so any water will soak into the sides of the mounds. I reckon a manifold could be knocked together using old bits of plastic drainpipe. I’ve even got some in the shed, so that’ll be called into use.
All I need to source are the containers … and some tadpoles, and I’m in business!