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Alternative irrigation methods
With the arrival of the holidays the question arises again like every year: and our flowers?
Not being able to bring them with us it is opportune to take care in advance of their arrangement, so as not to find them all withered on our return.
If we have many flower pots on the balcony or in the house, the best way to provide for periodic watering, so important this season, is obviously to equip our balcony with an irrigation system equipped with a timer, so that we can program a continuous cycle of watering. The irrigations are to be carried out possibly during the evening hours or at dawn, since the heat of the day evaporates the water from the ground, and therefore our plants, in addition to not being reached by water, also suffer a strong stress due to the temperature difference between water and soil. On the market we can find various models of irrigation system: from the most complicated to very simple ones, to be connected directly to the bathroom or kitchen faucet; moreover we can choose between drip-wing systems and perforated hose systems, which are simpler than the previous ones, and they work even when the water pressure is low. The choice depends on the number of vessels to which we have to supply irrigation, but also on how much we want to spend.
If, for any reason, we are unable to set up an irrigation system, and if we do not intend to leave home for many days, we can still think of our plants using alternative irrigation methods, very valid on certain occasions and, moreover, , inexpensive.
Placing of the plants
First of all it is important to think about the location of the plants, in fact it is advisable to place them at home, or in a not too sunny place; in fact, the high temperatures of July and August can cause serious damage to plants that are not properly irrigated, and could also frustrate our attempts at "deferred" irrigation by drying the soil excessively. Not being able to move the plants it is advisable to shade them with trellises, or with dense nets, which however let the air and rainwater pass; this trick, in addition to avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight, will also repair our plants from damage caused by hail and strong wind, which often accompany summer storms.
If we intend to leave for a few days, and for a long weekend (3-5 days), and intend to leave our pots at home, perhaps by closing the windows and leaving the house in the dark, we will have to supply our plants with a quantity of not too big water, which we can guarantee simply by filling the saucers and watering and spraying our plants just before leaving. In fact, in conditions of poor ventilation and low brightness our plants do not need large volumes of water.
Clay in the saucer
If we intend to be absent for a short time, about 5-7 days, and we have plants that do not require large amounts of water, we can prevent the soil from drying out of the vessels first of all by proceeding with an abundant irrigation before departure, and then placing our vases in a large saucer, properly filled with water and expanded clay, or gravel; in this way we will provide our plants with a good supply of humidity, without leaving the vessels in contact with water, which would favor the onset of radical rot. Otherwise we could insert in the saucer (it is always better than capacious), a layer of felt, a fabric that is easily found on the market, well soaked in water; also in this case the fabric will keep the humidity, slowly giving it to the vases, without leaving the soil soaked.
The traditional system
Our grandmothers teach us another irrigation system, which is as simple as it is effective; this method consists of using strips of felt, or wool threads, well wet and a bucket: by placing the bucket full of water in a place a little higher than our vases, we can water them with strips, inserting one end into the bucket and the other in the jar. In fact, whenever the soil in the pots is very dry, the water, through imbibition, will pass from the bucket to the pot, through the strips of felt. This system can be effective even for a whole week, and even more; It is however important to check before departure that the number of strips is sufficient, in fact if the pots are very bulky we must provide at least 3 or 4 strips of felt, furthermore it is good to fix them well in the soil, with hairpins or wire, in so that they don't come out accidentally, making our irrigation system completely useless.
If we have many pots we can prepare even more dry, so as to prepare a full-scale irrigation system, which will supply even a large number of plants.
If we only have one or two jars we can use plastic bottles instead of the bucket, making a hole in the cap, in which we will insert one or more wool threads, which at the other end will be fixed in the soil of our plants.
If desired we can also bury the whole bottle for some centimeters in the potting soil, obviously upside down and with a very small hole on the cap; we can use this trick only in very large pots, otherwise the weight of the full bottle of water could overturn them, moreover a small pot does not contain enough soil to make space for the neck of the bottle.
On the market we can still find drippers, consisting of a cone-shaped structure to be inserted into the ground from which a small tube branches off, which must be sunk into a container full of water, the principle is the same, the efficacy also.
Vases with water reserve
In all garden centers, but also at the supermarket now, we can find pots and planters that have, on the bottom or on one side, a container of water that allows us to leave a conspicuous supply of water to our flowers; often these vessels are equipped with indicators that allow us to see if the water supply is full. There are also water reserves to hang from flower stakes, which supply water to the soil by means of a tube from which it constantly drips. The effectiveness of water reserves obviously depends above all on their size, the greater the volume of water, the longer is the length of time during which our plants will be supplied with water.
Alternative irrigation: Gelatine
One of the latest discoveries for irrigating our plants is gelatin, a chemical compound made up of a large percentage of water, which, in contact with the earth, or even with the roots of plants, is able to gradually release it, every time that the plant needs it.
There are various types of them on the market, some are already ready in a jar, which is placed on the surface of the potting soil; others instead are in dust, and must be immersed in water before being spread on the soil; the latter can also be used to completely replace the earth of our vessels, we can find colored ones, in this case they can supply the water needed for the plant for a month or more.