Sustainable Watering Solutions for an Organic Garden

A reclaimed tap connected to rainwater harvesting butts close to my polytunnel.

There are a lot of new gardeners out there, tending their new food producing gardens for the first time. So today, I’d like to take a moment to go back to basics. Providing plants with the water they need to grow is, of course crucial. But many new gardeners make a few basic mistakes when it comes to watering.

Watering Dos and Don’ts

  • Don’t use mains tap water for your plants if you can help it.
  • Do use rainwater whenever you can.
  • Don’t water at midday when it is hot and sunny.
  • And don’t water and wet plant leaves too late in the day.
  • Make sure you do direct the water where it is needed. (Usually below the soil or at soil level rather than from above.)
  • Do take the different watering needs of different plants into account. (And remember these will often change throughout the year.)
  • And Do remember – use organic mulches and provide shade to reduce watering needs.

Sustainable Ways To Water in an Organic Garden

  • Use drip irrigation (ideally connected to rainwater harvesting systems) rather than sprinkler systems to reduce water use.
  • Use swales/ drainage ditches to direct water to where it is needed.
  • Consider adding a wicking bed (a raised bed with a reservoir of water in the base).
  • Make a ‘self watering’ container – a smaller version of a wicking bed.
  • Insert clay pots or other containers into the soil, and water into these, so water ends up exactly where it is needed.
  • Reuse plastic bottles. Fill them with water and place them upside down in the soil so the water seeps out slowly when required.

Short on water? In a pinch, tap water is better than no water. But make sure you do harvest all the rainwater you can. In some areas, fog fences can also help you harvest water.

In low water areas, it may be a good idea to consider hydroponic or aquaponic systems. They use less water than conventional growing systems.

Where water is relatively plentiful, using it sustainably might not be at the top of your mind. But it is always important to think carefully about how you use water in an organic garden.

Do you have any watering woes? Please do get in touch.

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