Water is a precious resource! Yet essential to all life including plants of course. So how can we use it efficiently? Also, watering is something people forget or cant fit into their ‘busy’ lives. It can be a pleasure………. I find watering is relaxing, a time to slow down, pause and reflect. Though as a naturally lazy gardener I use various strategies to be efficient and minimise water waste.
Plants take in water through roots and lose it by transpiration. A lot of water is lost by evaporation from the soil to the air. This can easily be reduced by mulching. That is covering the top of the soil with either a layer of stones, compost, or even cardboard or newspaper. This also helps keep the soil temperature even for the plant.
Contrary to popular habit of watering from the top it better to water from base. That way nutrients are not washed out of the pot soil. Also it naturally controls how much water is taken up.So how do you water from the bottom? Place containers in a shallow tray of water and leave. Once the water is soaked allow excess to drain. For those plants that like humidity place the pot on a tray of pebbles filled with some water. This keeps the air around the plant moist and decreases loss by evaporation.
Water deeply and less frequently this is better for us and plants than watering little and often. Also container seize matters. The larger the container the less you have to water as the surface area to volume ratio is reduced. Also placing pots close together helps just like us they benefit from company with taller plants shading little ones. Also the moisture released through transpiration makes a humid atmosphere. By default it also looks pretty!
The amount you water of course depends also on the type of plant. Of course plants from the dry climates require less watering (they have fat leaves and spines etc) while those from rain forests (large leaves) require more water. Some examples of low water needing plants are the various agave and aloe plants. So choose plants to match your needs.
You don’t have to use fresh water you can reuse water from washing fruits vegetable or even clothes and people. This is only advisable if you are using biologically safe detergents. Also this is better suited to gardens than pots as it risks salt build up in soil.
Finally, water is also how plants take in nutrients. So an occasional biological feed added to your watering helps. One of the cheapest is a 1:20 dilution urine to water……….but not something most of us are comfortable with! Also not suited for vegetables we eat directly. Seaweed soaked in water is a great pick up tonic for plants. You can add also buy organic liquid fertilizers such as ‘gomutra’ to add while watering.