I'm considering adding a root watering system to water my 50x50 veggie/herb/flower garden. I've seen root spikes or watering spikes (there are many names for them) where a pipe - usually PVC or some plastic pipe anywhere from 18" to 36" long and has many holes drilled in it vertically at even intervals. Then you take this spike and place it in the ground and then fill the spike with water and the water will seep out of the holes and water the root system and soil. It seems like a great way to not waste water.
I really like this idea and want to give it a try in my garden.
Only, I really do not want to put PVC or other plastic or petroleum (et al) things in my ground. I'm totally organic and I want to keep it that way! I could use glass containers (wine bottles) but those are harder to drill I think, though this seems like a great thing to use. So I thought about maybe using clay piping. Only I'm not sure where to get it and what the pros and cons of using this might be, never having worked with it before in this wa.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this idea? Please, any and all comments, advice, experiences - you name it are welcome. The last thing I want to do is waste time or money or energy. I have little of all three!
Something of a similar nature was discussed in this thread (Clay pots for irrigation). One thing to consider would be if you get freezing weather it could damage a clay watering vessel when the ground freezes. I think clay pipes are thicker than clay pots so they may be tougher. But if they are intended as "pipes" they may be glazed or otherwise treated to keep water from leaking out of them, thus defeating your purpose.
This book explores a lot of these ideas. At the time of publication, the author said it was very difficult to find clay irrigation pipe in the United States. You might not be in the United States, so that may not apply to you! The author suggested porous concrete pipe as an alternative, not sure if that is easier to find.
I have continued to use clay pots this summer with good results so far. For large, individual plants, I will definitely continue to use this method in the future. It is the first year that my tomatoes and squashes and cucumbers have shown no sign of water stress with absolutely minimal work from me. Nice big pot, keep it filled up, dead simple. I also seeded chard around a small pot in a poor-soil area of my garden and the seedlings have done well with almost no additional water to get them started. So, all that is going well. My only downside is that I would have space a few plants slightly further apart. It's the best cabbage year I have ever had, maybe partially due to the pots, and the plants got so huge, I have a hard time getting through the leaf cover to water easily. Rookie mistake...my cabbages never got so big before, LOL!
I'm trying to figure out how I would make this work with a more loosely scattered polyculture planting. I haven't really played with it yet, but it might be as simple as evenly spacing some spikes or pots into the ground.
In the future, I will definitely plant new trees with a deep irrigation pipe, even if I have to use PVC. The benefits of not wasting water on surface area have been profound.
A few personal variables here: I have a small garden in a maritime climate. It was a very cool summer until recently. Results may vary in a hot arid climate and a large garden, though those have traditionally been the areas where this has been most effective.
I found a clay pipe leading off from one of my ponds, so I dug the pipes up and used them in my orchard. They are not glazed and of all the clay pipes I've seen, they've not been glazed.
I just fill them with water and let it seep out. May be I should have done something more but I just need to get water to the roots of the trees.
Thinking about things easy to use that aren't petro chemicals, bean cans? Easy to drill holes into.
I gat through rather a lot of cat food, having 4 cats. This may be a way to reuse the cans. Not sure if they'll change the soil ph when they rust down though. Guess it would depend on how many and over what time.
I once heard a suggestion to use bamboo with the nodes pierced for this, and I thought I might use it if I'm planting something that needs more irrigation the first year or two, but will be fine if the pipe decomposes and fills in eventually. There was something about tying the bamboo with twine or wire so it wouldn't split when soaked.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
There are stakes(pipes) and then there are pots.
The pipes deliver water deep but quickly,the pots are essentially ollas and seep out over time.
Chimney flues are a nice wide pipe but expensive.
Clay drainage "tiles" pretty much like a flue, but cheaper and harder to find.
You could stack cinder blocks to create a pipe, mortar the joints and bottom and it might work like an olla.
I think food cans almost always will have plastic liners.
A box made of wood could serve as a pipe,or maybe even an olla if the water could work out through the wood.
Galvanized vent pipe could work as a pipe.
Last and funniest.
Take a toilet tank and seal the holed in the bottom with water proofing cement.
Then use a side grinder to remove the glaze from the bottom half of the tank.
I think that will be enough for it to act like an olla. If not, using regular cement to seal the bottom might make it sufficiently porous.
Add a gold fish for fertilizer, mosquitoes control and fun.
I live in North Florida about 5 blocks from the beach so freezing is seldom an issue though it has occurred. I don't care if it's porous since that's the point anyhow. I think the holes I drill in it will let water out fairly quickly anyhow and since the goal is to water the root only, no biggie.
I'm trying to avoid clay pots (olla) because they're probably more expensive than just the pipes. I think. I'm guessing. I can't find clay pipes anywhere! With the pipes I can put them in the ground vertically and save a bit of room for more plants. Plus I like the idea of sinking these anywhere from 8" to 12" or more and taking up as little room as possible.
I've heard this works well but I cannot find clay pipes anywhere (here)! It's frustrating. I'll do more looking for sure.
Thank you VERY much for your posts! If anyone comes across a source for clay pipes, please post it here. It'd be nice too if the source were somewhere near Jacksonville Beach, FL too. :)