This is all done in Tecate, Baja California, the native vegetation here is between sage scrub and chaparral, we're lucky to have both of these. It's quite astonishing really. The average temperature is around 25C and it climbs up to 35C or more easily in summer. The annual precipitation is around 250 mm and it's quite windy so we have to factor all of these in. I know summer is not the best time to plant these but it's pretty far from home so we took advantage of some opportunities and we decided to take on the challenge. So far I've had minor inconveniences with the glue not holding and the local fauna eating some other trees but so far the trees are growing excellently.
Now, I've been using empty (washed) 2.5 gallon detergent bottles and a nylon wick, it's working good so far. But this is where my question starts, I've seen online that this type of plastic (HDPE#2) is prone to breaking when exposed to the sun and high humidity, which is the case here. I was wondering how long these containers can last and when they have to be replaced? Can these containers leech any harmful chemicals to the plants? (which I doubt, perhaps harmful to us) What plastic containers do you think would be a better alternative that can be easily found? I'm trying to apply and implement these techniques for marginalized communities in the area that really need to take advantage of all available water and reutilized materials. I would also love to hear any other recommendations or advice. Thanks everyone!
I would guess those containers would last 2-3 years in the blasting heat, but not entirely sure.
They'll last a lot longer if you white wash them with some low VOC/less toxic type of paint. The black is going to heat them up like crazy in the sun. It looks like an interesting technique just from the pic you posted. I've seen people have luck with similar setups in Portland, OR summers, which are also very hot and dry. Best wishes, Pete
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Have you thought of burying them like ollas? Drill small holes near the bottom, bury them to the neck, fill with water and replace the cap. You stop the water heating up and the plastic won't degrade as fast.
Lots of people use spray foam insulation to protect plastic water tanks. You can get it in spray cans. If the wind starts to become a problem with anything, move right to tree tubes. They've helped me out big time.
A slurry of good old-fashioned mud smeared all over the plastic jug will provide a sun-screen for it to knock down the UV rays. You might wish to add some straw or comfrey leaves to the mud mixture to give it a bit more strength (like a thin cob mix).
Put the jug on the south side of the tree to absorb the hot afternoon sun and keep that heat off the tree roots and soil on the south side of your trees. The warmth of the jug will radiate heat for another hour or two into the evening, giving your plants a small micro-climate of warmth as the evening gets cool.
Welcome to Permies. Great first contribution ---- I think that deserves a piece of pie.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf
Thanks a million for your responses everyone! There's so much good stuff here.
You guys are right, I should avoid letting them heat up so much, turns out HDPE plastic has a big issue with cracking while under stress and heat. 2 years is more than enough time to get the trees up and running but having reusable containers is a big plus! They are buried a bit Liz, (like only 2 inches) so that they don't get knocked over by the wind but it's actually a great idea what you're proposing. That would work great to protect the containers AND give the plants/trees some more water, though I would have to do a little bit of trial and error to see what works best.
Marco! That was some genius advice and that was the best pie I've ever had haha. I was looking for a low-tech application and I think that that is really going to do the trick. I hadn't even considered the microclimate created by placing that jug next to a plant. I'm definitely going to place it towards the south to give the plant a little more protection.
Just to give some background here, we're part of a new sustainable/ecological village here that's barely starting and we're trying to get the trees going so we can get some shade, wind protection, and fruit. Turns out this whole wick irrigation project is getting some good reviews from our future neighbors and we're trying to see how far we can take it. I'll make a video about the specifics of making these and hopefully, I can share it with everyone soon. Cheers guys!