“ Brand: Kleeneze / Water Equipment „
As I seem to be spending a great deal of my time in Lancashire at the moment (a county which doesn't suffer from any kind of water shortage), of necessity my garden in Berkshire (currently on a hosepipe ban despite the recent torrential rain) has been left very much to its own devices just lately. Whilst the early Spring weather was so dreadful this hasn't previously presented a problem, my latest visit north coincided with Britain's mini heatwave. Not only that but it was also a critical time for many of my newly transplanted runner bean and tomato seedlings. I didn't need to worry about leaving them unattended, however, as the previous year I'd bought a few packs of these nifty little garden waterers from the local Kleeneze distributor and although they didn't exactly earn their keep last summer, they certainly came in handy last week.
These garden waterers are currently on sale from the Kleeneze catalogue for £4.75 for six waterers, which is a slightly higher price than I paid last year but still works out at just over 70p per waterer which is a small price to pay for protecting sometimes very expensive plants from death by frying! If you don't have a local Kleeneze distributor, they can also be ordered through the Kleeneze website. A very similar product (Aquadrip), though with a slightly more sophisticated method of regulating the water flow, is also available from Amazon for £6 with free delivery.
The garden waterer is such a simple idea and has certainly saved the lives of my fragile tomato and runner beans seedlings. This 5" long orange plastic spike has a small hole at the tip and two other small holes on either side of the spike approximately 1" higher and the entire unit is designed to screw onto used plastic bottles. When attached to a bottle filled with water and secured in the earth, the waterers allow a continuous drip feed of water to the area of the plant which most needs it, namely the root system. The length of the spike is long enough to allow even a two litre bottle to be fixed securely into normal garden soil without it toppling over. I guess gravity also plays some part in the process, too. I should add that for best results, the plants should be well watered before using the watering spikes. For those cheapskates amongst you, you could make your own waterer by simply boring a couple of small holes in the cap of a used bottle, although when I tried this I had difficulty in getting the bottle to remain upright.
One thing I have noticed when using these waterers is that they function best in garden soil or well compacted compost. If you try to use them in newly potted up containers, the compost seems too loose to secure the bottle in an upright position and may need some kind of Heath Robinson contraption to keep it there. Sadly, they are also only designed to work where there is a sufficient depth of soil or compost to secure the spike so for seedlings still in their early stages, these little nozzles aren't particularly useful. My runner bean seedlings were still growing in their cardboard toilet roll inners so I planted them (cardboard inner and all) into a large ice cream container filled with soil along with a 2-litre bottle of water topped by one of these spikes and placed them in a sheltered and slightly shady area of my garden. I'm very pleased to report that I've returned to thriving bean plants, although after 10 days absence, the bottle was running on empty. I followed a similar process for my tomato seedlings which were still in small pots which I sank into well watered larger containers and, again, I had about an 80% survival rate.
Although the waterers are designed primarily to be used in larger containers, they also work very well for keeping specimen plants in the garden well watered, especially those newly planted which need a little extra TLC or plants which require a constant supply of water. They also just about work in deeper hanging baskets, too, although I find this only works with 1-litre bottles. I'm growing some of my strawberries in a couple of hanging baskets this year and although by the time I arrived home the compost was beginning to dry out and the smaller bottles were completely empty, the strawberry plants were still flourishing and showing no ill effects.
These simple little garden waterers may not be a total fix for those times when you're unable to water your garden but they're certainly a useful additional tool for use during short absences. To my mind they're well worth the investment especially as they've managed to protect my seedlings at such a crucial time in their development and during a particularly hot spell.