Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Secrets to my success.....
A question I often received from my neighbors was how did my hanging baskets, container plantings, pots, etc. always look so good. While I'm sure the use of good potting soil, supplemented with additional organic material such as fine compost, along with ample doses of a semi-organic fertilizer like Epsoma's Flower-Tone helped, the real secret was water....and plenty of it. I learned quickly that in the heat of summer, particularly as the pots filled out and the plants became lush that the pots needed water at least once a day. Maybe twice.
And in our two-career busy family that presented a problem.....which was easily resolved by the use of a battery operated watering timer and plenty of drip irrigation and tubing. In fact if you look at my last post, that Louisville deck was during the time my son was an infant...to two careers plus an infant = must have automatic watering system. Some of the supplies I'd find locally, but a great on-line source is DripWorks. I was even able to find some white supply tubing to use around the inside of the front porch. Here's early spring with the lines still mostly in their winter rolled up spot, and then snaked down with the chains to the hanging baskets..
I used the 1/2 supply lines in most places with the lines to the pots using 1/4 tubes and emitters. I also discovered 1/4 soaker hose that worked very well...almost better (and cheaper) than the emitters. When we put in the patio, I ran a supply line with the 1/2 tubing along the edge, just under the mulch. New sidewalks always had a 3" or so piece of PVC pipe laid under to allow supply line/hoses under the sidewalk. In this set of photos you can see first an early spring shot of an empty pot with a 1/4" soaker hose circle, then a late summer shot where it is hard to even notice the supply line.
I even ran supply lines out to some of the garden beds for containers placed within beds. Each of the posts in the photo below had a 1/4" supply line with a drip emitter in each pot.
At the last house, I had two systems set up, one on each side of the house, each with a two outlet timer - this allowed four unique plant groupings (some with 15-20 pots) each on their own schedule. My only real worry was that the battery would go dead, or an emitter would clog or blow off. However, I took enough walks through to enjoy the garden that problems were easily nipped in the bud so to speak.