Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Greenhouse Irrigation

It might seem an odd topic for this month’s Bean Feast, but unless there’s a problem rain doesn’t actually fall inside a greenhouse. This means that despite the recent deluge, your greenhouse plants (and mine) still need some of the wet stuff to keep them growing and that’s the topical topic for this month’s Bean Feast, not so much a feast but a thirst quenching exercise for greenhouse plants.

The good news is that in the cooler cloudy weather water barely evaporates from the pots and compost and indeed our greenhouse plants aren’t growing quite as fast or drinking so much, so twice a day watering is not usually needed. The bad news is that if you’ve set up self-watering systems and automatic watering to tend your plants during an absence you may come back to soggy compost and overwatered plants  if the weather doesn’t warm up soon.

The weather this year has been more than a challenge for greenhouse gardeners than ever. When it’s hot, it’s been very hot and our greenhouses have become virtual ovens, dependent upon shading, ventilation and air blowers to keep things bearable for us and the plants.

Our well fed, burgeoning plants grew into veritable triffids when the warm, moist growing conditions were just right and when the hot weather deigned to soak our isle in sunshine, the same plants sucked dry their growing media and wobbled under the weight of developing fruit and leafy canopies. It’s been a balancing act between too much and too little and if the weather forecast is anything to go by it’s going to be a yoyo summer. But all is not lost.

After the wettest drought on record the good news this season is that the powers that be finally saw sense and stopped punishing gardeners for wasting water. (never was the poor gardener anyway in my opinion – it’s the garden owner that should be in the dock for that charge – better not get me started on that).

Previously, when a hosepipe ban was imposed the restrictions included our water saving micro-irrigation systems. Bonkers when they use up to 90% LESS water than hand watering. This year, most water companies (please check yours) have agreed that drip irrigation connected to a timer is exempt from most hosepipe bans. Hoorah for common sense.

These tiny targeted watering tubes serve individual pots and containers with a vital supply of water, dripping small amounts at root level to keep our precious plants watered. Not only water saving, these ingenious, if a little unsightly systems are also a godsend in terms of time. Once you’ve set up the web of tubes (even that’s not as bad as it sounds) and connected it to a timer, you can almost forget about watering, it does it for you day in and day out enabling you to use the precious saved time somewhere else in the garden. It’s always as good idea to test it out and tweak it until you get the right amount of water delivered to your plants and it’s essential to turn the tap on, the timer keeps the water from passing through continually and if the tap is switched off it will never water.

Since most gardeners try and squeeze in a short break sometime in the summer, keeping the greenhouse plants watered is just one headache if help is not at hand. Check out the range of micro drip systems on offer from Hozelock including a choice of timers to cater for your every need. There’s even one with a rain sensor that knows when it’s rained, but that’s really designed for outdoor watering rather than greenhouse set ups. Plus there’s a whole pick n mix of attachments and accessories to suit your every need. So if you have to go to that flower show, or you simply must take a break then this bit of kit is worth the investment to ensure your plants are hale and hearty on your return.