Garden, Silvopasture and Agroforestry

My slightly passive watering system in use on trees and blueberries

Note: I meant to publish my solar wax melter design today.  However the pop up thunderstorms prevented the completion of a batch of wax!

I use this system whenever I need to water my trees or blueberry bushes. But the little jets of water don’t penetrate crops that form stands with many vertical stems like my buckwheat.

But for trees and blueberries it is perfect. I just set up the buckets then haul a pair of 5 gallon buckets of water by hand. Over the next ~10 minutes or so, 5 gallons of water is slowly dispersed into a wide arc of the tree’s root zone. I like aiming the jets beyond the stems of the trees or shrubs because as the water pressure lowers as the water drains, the jets will retreat back in front of the stems more evenly covering the rootzone.

For blueberries, this system proves even more valuable as I can direct the arc to water two bushes at once, thus providing 2.5 gallons to each. I can add my normal 2 tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water in order to ensure the soil pH is not brought up by alkaline (or even neutral) irrigation water. I would not be able to do this with hoses or drip irrigation, at least not without an expensive system. Plus this avoids dampening foliage which is important for crops susceptible to mildew diseases like grapes or asparagus.




Trying to set up a cheap, more passive system for irrigation

This is stupidly simple, but to be honest, I’m not sure it if really saves work or even irrigates evenly at least as far as the garden goes. I adapted this system from watering trees.

I drilled 1/16″ holes around one quarter of the base of multiple buckets. I set the buckets on a pair of bricks that raise it over the edge of the garden beds. Then I filled intact 5 gallon buckets from the well carrying a pair at a time for balance and efficiency. Hopefully the well water will be replaced with my rainwater catchment system (post).


I like this method because I can carry the water, fill the irrigation buckets and go work on something else until they drain. Or with a total of 6 buckets, a leapfrog strategy can be conducted where the first pair is empty by the time the last two are filled. The water also goes directly in the ground rather than sprayed on the leaves which is important with plants like grapes and asparagus with which disease is promoted if the foliage is damp for too long. If I irrigate in the evening, evaporation is negligible. Also I add a small amount of vinegar to the blueberry water to make sure the water from my well is slightly acidic.

Trees need about 5 gallons per week which is the exact capacity of my buckets.

However, if a plant stem in the garden is in line with the little jet of water, the water won’t reach the middle of the bed like they holes are sized to do. It also takes more time than anticipated to continuously move bricks and buckets.

I’ve only had to irrigate once this summer so I am unsure if I’m sold on this system. For trees, definitely but I’m not so sure for the garden.