Monday, November 14, 2011
Mandala watering system
Now the warmer weather has started so does a new task in the garden... watering. So Saturday morning in a spare 15 minutes before having to go and do some shopping a bee flew into my bonnet. I stomped out to the shed determined that I was going to invent a watering system for our mandala garden in 15 minutes using only what was on hand. And blow me down I did it.
Until building a mandala garden I never realised what a wonderful shape a circle really is. Looking through a bag of disused gardening bits I found an old mental sprinkler. It waters a circular area and our garden beds just happen to also be round. Perfect! But then my face dropped as I realised a sprinkler like this is fine for a lawn but no good for a garden with protruding plants that will block the spray from covering the whole area. But of course put it on a stick and that will raise it above the plants. So I hunted around the shed stopping to take a good look at gardening stake. However how was I going to attach it and besides it would be a right pain to be constantly be inserting and removing it from the ground when I need to move it from one bed to another. So would you believe I found some thin mental pipes, left over from a cheap flimsy piece of furniture, and a piece of dowel that fitted tightly into the bottom of the sprinkler and cleanly into the pipes. I even had more than enough pieces of pipes to install one in the centre of each bed. Could I have been any luckier? The gods where definitely on my side that day.
My watering plan now is that each night I will water one of beds, rotating clockwise as not to cause any friction with the way water likes to rotate in the southern hemisphere. Giving each bed a good deep soak as to last for 6 days. In the case of a heat wave I will probably double the rotation.
In the past I have watered by hand, and even though finding the experience very relaxing, Melanie never felt I gave the ground a good enough soak. She is probably right. And part of the whole idea of implementing this permaculture designed garden is to increase efficiency. While the sprinkler is doing the watering my hands are free to plant out a few seedlings or tie a tomato bush etc. I did think about laying a dripper system but didn’t think it would play nice with the chickens, or should I say I don’t think the chickens would play nice with it.
While using it for the first time I started to question how long I should leave it running. Do I need to give each bed a good hour of soaking or is just 5 minutes ample? It occurred to me I had no idea. The first step I thought would be to calculate how much water the sprinkler delivers. So I turned it on to the desired flow and, getting very wet in the process, I took it off its stand and plonked it in a measuring jug and timed it. It took 12 seconds to fill 2 litters. That’s 6 seconds per litter which is 10 litters per minute. How easy was that maths? As I said the gods where on my side that day.
But now that I know my watering system does 10 litters per minute, how many minutes should each bed get every 6 days?