Recycled Milk Jug for Drip Irrigation

Do you have any plants that need extra water?

- Maybe you have some plants that aren't connected to your irrigation system.

- Or maybe you don't even have an irrigation system and use a hose to water your plants instead.

- It may be that you don't need to irrigate your plants - you get enough rainfall to do the job for you.

Well, whatever situation you find yourself in, there are times when your plants need some extra water.  

So, you can haul out your hose and water each of your thirsty plants.  The problem with this approach is that often the hose puts out water too fast and the soil can't absorb it fast enough.  As a result, much of the water simply runs off and doesn't benefit the plant as much as it should.

Well, I am going to share with you a solution that I use in my own garden.

Now, I do have a drip-irrigation system.  But, not all of my succulents are connected to it AND sometimes when I plant a new plant - it can take a little while for me (meaning my husband) to connect it to the irrigation system.

This solution is really just so easy and I'm sure you will all soon be collecting your used milk jugs instead of throwing them away.

All you need is a plastic milk jug and a nail.  You will need to use the nail to make 4 equally spaced holes on the bottom of your milk jug.

1. Heat your nail using a lighter or your stove burner.  Then use your nail to pierce a small hole on the bottom of the milk jug.  
The heat helps the nail to get through the plastic easily.  Although, I had to heat up my nail each time I made a hole.

2. Fill your milk jug with water from your hose, put the cap on and carry it upside down (so the water doesn't leak out) then turn it right-side up when you place it by your plant. 
Of course, if you don't want to carry your milk jug full of water, you can always place the milk jug by the plant and bring the hose to it instead.

3. Slightly loosen the cap so that the water will slowly drip out the holes, which allows the water to penetrate the soil instead of running off.
(This is also a great way to apply liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion to plants).

I told you it was easy, didn't I?

 I recommend this method of applying supplemental water to people I meet who have cactus, which appreciate getting some extra water twice a month during the summer.

**This is also a great aid for those who live in areas that are suffering from drought and may not have an irrigation system for their plants.  Normally, they get enough rain to keep their plants happy.  But during drought conditions, this can be an easy way to provide supplemental water to thirsty plants.**

- Another variation to this method of providing extra water is to take your milk jug and make holes on the sides instead of the bottom.  Then bury the entire milk jug by your plant, leaving just the top exposed.  Keep the milk cap screwed on the top and when you need to add extra water, simply unscrew the cap, pour in the water and screw the cap back on.

I hope you find this tip helpful!

I have received a ton of great comments about this post.  I do want to address two concerns that people raised about using milk jugs for watering.
- Some people expressed a concern about the unattractiveness about leaving milk jugs out in their garden.  
* I assumed that people would bring the milk jugs in after watering, which is what I do.  Of course, you can leave them out - but I would 'hide' them behind my plants so that they aren't as visible.
- Another concern was that the milk jugs would 'blow away' if left out.
*To prevent this, simply pour  1 - 2" of small gravel or rocks into the bottom of the jug, which will help weight it down.  Don't worry, the rocks won't interfere with water being able to get out.


Carol said...

Awesome tip! I also like that there is no chance of forgetting the hose on and wasting tons of water. Thanks for posting this.

Lucy said...

I was thinking one would have to put stones inside to stop it blowing away but burying it would solve that problem - as well as one of sightliness. However, I suspect those of us plagued with slugs might be giving them a congenial home underneath.

trav4adventures said...

You know, I NEED to do this when we go on vacation because our son apparently doesn't know how to water our plants while we are gone!!!

A Daughter of the King said...

I was glad when you got to the bury it option. That sounds like the best solution, because then the jugs won't blow away. I also like that you share this as a way to apply fertilizer.

Indie said...

LOVE this idea! I don't have an irrigation system, and this is a great way to water some of those plants that are further out and don't often see my hose during dry times!

Andrea said...

Hi Noelle, yes we do that here too. We only have dry and wet season, so during the dry we do that for our most cherished plant. When plastics are not yet available, the old people use bamboos with small holes at the bottom and it keeps small seedlings withstand the dry season.

Stiletto said...

A brilliant idea. I've tried this once, but decided to stop cause the plastic containers didin't look pretty in the garden.

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ said...

That's a great idea Noelle! Some of my plants are on a slight slope and the water from the hose tends to go down into the street instead of water the plant. I'm going to try it for them. Thanks!

Arid said...

Love the idea! I might even set up a five gallon bucket in this way. We just returned from our house in Lake Havasu, AZ. I will keep this idea in mind for our next visit. Didn't need it this time around because of the nightly rains.

Roberta Belote said...

You could always paint the jugs to look like ladybugs or whatever.

Roberta Belote said...

You could always paint the bottles to look like ladybugs or anything you like.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More) said...

Excellent tip. I've done something similar with buckets but milk jugs are MUCH easier to come by and more suitable for smaller plants than 5-gallon buckets. Instead of a heated nail, I use an icepick. But I'm not sure how many people have icepicks anymore :-).


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